Forza Motorsport 4: Week in Review 8/19
Brian is off in Canada eating poutine and telling everyone how great Forza 4 is, so I’m handling WiR duties today. It seems like we say “it’s been a really busy week” pretty much every week, but it’s true. It takes a lot of work to get a game shipped, as I’m truly coming to understand. Despite all the hectic work at Turn 10 Studios ensuring that the game is polished to a gleaming luster, we’ve managed to roll out some new website features this week, as many of you have already seen. The new pages on the site, helpfully called “Cars” and “Tracks,” are where you’ll be able to read about the hundreds of cars and dozens of tracks that you’ll be able to explore in October when Forza Motorsport 4 ships out. We’re hoping it helps tide you over, so we’re putting up cars and tracks onto the pages as quickly as we can so you have even more to get excited about. If you want to hear about new car reveals the second they drop, keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter feeds, where our daily reveals first see the light of day.
For a quick runthrough on how to get around the Cars and Tracks pages, we’ve put together a helpful guide to get you familiar with the new section.
Moving on to news out of Germany, I’m sure you’ve all been following the great information, videos, and articles coming out of Gamescom. Dan is on the ground in Germany, and he’s been dropping some great info about the game. Folks at the show have been racing on the brand-new Hockenheim track (see how Turn 10 in a behind-the-scenes video here), and the feedback has been great—particularly considering that the 2012 BMW M5 is available to drive on the track, too. It’s not even in showrooms yet! Gamescom is also where we’ve been able to reveal more information about the TopGear content, showing off Jeremy Clarkson’s narration of the Autovista feature, car bowling, and all the TopGear Test Track goodness.
Speaking of TopGear, a few of you with sharp eyes watching Dan’s videos coming out of Gamescom may have noticed our TopGear homespace, which is a great backdrop for Forza 4’s photo mode. Personally, it’s one of my favorite places to shoot cars, as the high-contrast between the bright spotlight and the dark background makes the new lighting in the game pop. Phred really enjoys using the TopGear space to check out his custom liveries in the flesh, after he’s finished a long painting session, to check out the fine details and look for places to touch up. It’s definitely a great space to closely explore the details of a special car, so be sure to check it out when you unbox your copy of Forza 4 in October. You can also take a look at more of the TopGear homespace, as well as some of Dan’s discussion of game’s features, in the video below:
And lastly for Gamescom, I’d like to let you know that IGN is having a poll to pick their People’s Choice Award for their readers’ favorite game to come out of Gamescom 2011. Hop over to their microsite and take a look.
Let’s go ahead and answer some Ask Alex questions now. We asked for more question submissions on Facebook yesterday, and the response was incredible! Lots of you asked great questions, and I don’t have time to answer them all, but I picked a couple favorites:
Facebook user Steven L. asks: What is the oldest production engine still in use today?
These kind of questions are always pretty fun. A writer at The Truth About Cars had an excellent comment thread on a similar question—what engine was produced the longest—about a year ago. Of course, that involved thinking about all the engines that are no longer used put into new cars but are still produced for industrial applications, or as marine engines, or as crate motors. Where do you draw the line? It makes a fun debate topic, though. Thankfully, your question is a little easier. With the demise of the ancient (but excellent) Lamborghini V12 last year, after 57 continual years of powering Sant’Agata’s finest, there’s only one answer: the Rolls-Royce/Bentley V8. That engine, ironically, is no longer used in Rolls-Royces—that company is now owned by BMW, and uses their engines. Only a few Bentleys soldier on with the 6.75 Litre at this time, in twin-turbo form, which would probably shock the engineers who designed the engine in the 1950s. It debuted in 1959.
And Facebooker Nick S. asks: With all the advances and innovations developed for modern transmissions (CVT, dual-clutch, etc.), are there any practical reasons to still go for the traditional stick & 3-pedal arrangement?
Let’s get my personal bias out of the way first—my car’s roll bar has a “Save the Manuals” sticker on it, so I’m clearly a three-pedal diehard. That being said, I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of the automated manuals (and even, in some cases, the true automatics) are getting much, much better. Dual-clutch transmissions can shift in a matter of milliseconds, usually at the expense of smoothness—but still, that’s many times faster than I could possibly hope to shift a traditional manual. They also usually offer the flexibility of a fully automatic mode (something that I occasionally miss when traffic in Redmond slows to a crawl). In many cases, particularly in CVT transmissions, they also better fuel economy. That being said, what I love about a manual transmission is the involvement—I move the shift lever, and a mechanical connection physically moves a gear selector fork to select a gear. It’s up to me what gear I want to be in, and I also have precise control over how smoothly the shift goes. I like that kind of intimate connection to my car, so it is great to be able to be so involved in the process of driving it, rather than being a passive driver disconnected from the mechanical-ness of the drivetrain. So that’s the subjective rationale. From a practical standpoint, one advantage is slightly lower maintenance costs overall (most manuals don’t have expensive transmission computers to fail). More importantly, if you can drive a stick you can theoretically drive any common car you encounter. But really, modern automated transmissions have a lot of advantages, so it’s pretty much a wash. While I think there’s a benefit to learning how to drive a manual, just to have the skills, there are simply not that many cases where manuals have a clear performance or practical advantage over a fast automated manual. On the plus side, since the differences are now much smaller, you can drive what you like without sacrificing too much, and wherever you stand in this debate, that’s pretty cool.
Keep those questions coming! But now, onto some car images. We revealed the 1999 Lotus Elise Sport, new to Forza, on Monday, and we just got some incredible images of the car that we’d like to share with you. Take a look:
Hopefully you didn’t drool too much on your keyboard there. Let’s turn now to the weekend, where there are a few things going on that you should know about. First of all, on Saturday, we’ll be bringing back Turn 10 Track Days for the race at Road America. All you have to do is show up during the race, log on to our Facebook page, and join us as we chat about the race. We’ll be logging on to the ESPN app on Xbox LIVE to watch the race, but you can also watch it on ESPN 3 if you want. It should be a lot of fun, so check it out.
Then on Sunday we’re going to be running a Facebook poll to see what you, the Forza Community, think is the best car that we announced this previous week is. We’ll put it up on our official Facebook page every Sunday, so make sure to have your say.
Looking beyond the weekend, we have a couple of things that we know you’ll want to have on your radar. First of all, next week we’ll be revealing a new track for you all. I can’t tell you anything other than that it’s a very old friend. Also, for all of you who frequent our forums, we’re giving it a makeover sometime soon. It’s going to look a lot more like the new Forza Motorsport site. I’ve played around with the new skin and it looks great. We’ll let you know when that rolls out.
Finally, if anyone noticed an issue with MyForza, rest assured that it’s back to normal, thanks to our Top Men.
That’s about it! Hope to see all of our Forza fans who love ALMS racing this weekend at the viewing party, and for the rest of you, have an excellent weekend!