Forza 4: the driving sim that just keeps on giving

Top Gear!

For me, as a former PlayStation and PlayStation 2 owner, the term “driving simulator” was synonymous with the Gran Turismo series.

Then, one day, I played Forza 2.

Whilst Gran Turismo‘s cars would come out of scrapes unscathed, Forza‘s cars got visibly beaten and battered if driven irresponsibly. And then there was the Forza auction house. I spent hours buying a selling cars, right up to the point were I suffered a two-week ban for dealing in cars with adult-themed and thus contraband paint-jobs. A situation brought on by a combination of naivety and greed (boy those nudie cars earnt me some serious cash).

With Forza 4, Microsoft has really rubbed Sony’s noise in it. This super-polished affair blows raspberries at the long-delayed and ill-received Gran Turismo 5. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

For Forza‘s forth outing, predictably, Microsoft have added Kinect support. If the mood takes you, you can actually steer cars around the track in a specially developed Kinect mode. More traditional players may still get a little out of the Kinect head tracking which enables players to turn their heads, adjusting the camera view to look into corners. There’s also Forza 4‘s interactive car gallery called Autovista that allows players to open doors get in and examine a selection of cars. With Kinect players can actually walk around cars and duck down to take a closer look. I was impressed by this feature, and I’m still not convinced about the Kinect in general. Autovista also allows Halo fans to take a gander at a fully realised version of the iconic Warthog, as I’ve previously reported here.

Not only does Forza 4 have so many cars available out of the box that it needs two discs to accommodate them, each month Microsoft releases a new DLC pack of even more cars. These themed packs have seen the addition of claasics like the Ford Escort RS2000 and dream cars like the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S.

The April DLC comes to us from the team at the BBC’s Top Gear TV show. The Top Gear Car Pack adds another ten cars to the game. I was surprised to see only two British marques represented in the pack, the Lotus Cortina and a 1965 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk3 considering Top Gear is a UK show.

The only time you'd probably be seen dead driving one of these is in Forza 4!

Check out the official blurb below.

The May Top Gear Car Pack features the following 10 cars:

  • 2012 Hennessey Venom GT The Venom GT is ambition personified. Designed to beat the Bugatti Veyron’s 0-200 mph time, the car is defined by pure, unadulterated power. The result is impressive—the Venom reaches 0-200 mph in less time than it takes your average car to reach 0-60 mph.
  • 1977 AMC Pacer X – Wayne and Garth never had it so good. With classic 70s style and a 232-cubic-inch, 3.8 liter, inline six, the Pacer X was modest on power, but its legacy lives on today. Take it for a ride in “Forza Motorsport 4,” preferably with “Bohemian Rhapsody” cranked nice and loud.
  • 2011 Ford Transite SuperSportVan – The SuperSportVan is the latest creation in the long-standing series of Ford-built custom fans, which dates back to 1971. Designed to prove that Ford engineers know how to have fun, this version is a one-off design shown at a 2011 UK commercial vehicle show.
  • 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon – The 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is by far the most comfortable and amenity-loaded Wrangler ever. It’s grittier too, with 40 percent more horsepower than older models, making this Jeep just as comfortable on the track as it is on the trails.
  • 1966 Lotus Cortina – One of the first “race on Sunday, commute on Monday” factory cars, the Lotus Cortina built its reputation both on the tarmac and in folks’ daily lives. Packing 115-horsepower and weighing just over a ton, the Cortina can carry four people in relative comfort, but it’s most happy when being revved high and thrown into a corner with full gusto.
  • 1992 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 – The turbo-charged Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 is a treasured piece of JDM history. The VR-4 was sold in limited numbers and its four-wheel drive, four-wheel-steering handling highlights technology that caters to a driving experience matched only by much more expensive sedans.
  • 2012 Smart ForTwo – The uncontested winner of the “easy to park” award, the Smart ForTwo is the first micro car to be introduced in the U.S. At just 106-inches long, the ForTwo is by far the smallest production car ever made. It’s a practical, urban errand runner whose looks will always spark a conversation.
  • 1990 Subaru Legacy RS – Putting aside its smaller, quirkier wagons and sedans, Subaru brought new game to dealerships in 1990 with the Legacy RS. More substantial in nearly every respect, the Legacy RS Turbo was the most powerful Subaru model available and still enjoys a strong following among Subie enthusiasts.
  • 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 – Packing a huge HEMI under its hood that makes for more than 450 horsepower, the Chrysler 300 SRT8 packs a potent combination of power and sophistication. The 300 will go hit 0-60 in under five seconds and will nail the quarter mile in less than 13 seconds. It might not be what you expect from a Chrysler these days… and that’s precisely the point.
  • 1965 Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII – Hand-crafted beauty and grin-widening performance define the 1965 Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII. With a 147-horsepower, six-cylinder overhead valve engine, the Healey–or “Squealy” as it was often called–delivers an exhilarating open-air ride and grippy cornering.

The Top Gear Car Pack is available from the Xbox Marketplace from the 1st May for 560 MS Points. Owners of the Forza 4 Season Pass get this new content for free.

I'm sure you've aways dreamt of racing a Transit van, well now you can!

Although Forza 4 has been out the best part of a year, the game is still very fresh, helped out by these regular infusions of content. If you haven’t already taken a look at it, the game is definitely worth a punt.