A few months ago, it was announced that Turn 10 (the people behind the Forza Motorsport series) had joined forces with the BBC to bring Top Gear to Forza 4, adding a little bit of extra intrigue to Microsoft's, up until now, incredibly serious, realistic racing sim. To begin with, no-one was quite sure what the partnership would mean - the smart money was on the Top Gear test track being included as a course, but beyond that, it was hard to see how a show as off the cuff, and at times, utterly bonkers as Top Gear could get along with the serious, motor love-fest that Forza 4 is. Or perhaps that should say, Forza 4 was. Because with one small partnership, Forza 4 has suddenly transformed, with Top Gear helping what can otherwise be quite a dry racing sim feel a lot more friendly.
With Forza 4 now merely weeks away, the extent that Top Gear's taken over the game has been revealed - and it's pretty impresive to say the least. A few things are as we expected - when you're choosing a car to race in, and you press a button, you'll be able to activate the game's AutoVista mode, where you'll be treated to views of an incredibly realistic model of the car, while the typically acerbic Jeremy Clarkson tells you all about what it does. But then there's more. The Top Gear loving's spread all the way through Forza 4, to the point where they've even completely recreated the Top Gear studio in-game for you to admire your cars in, complete with Stig banners, Jeremy's knee-capper equipped Police car, and Top Gear's tribute to the indestructible Toyota Hilux. For all it's worth, it may as well be called Top Gear: Forza 4.
As we'd already figured out, the Top Gear Test Track's also included in the game for you to set your own fastest lap around, complete with authentic Top Gear TV camera angles during the replays - meaning that camera during Gambon corner. You can even change the standard Forza driver into the Stig during replays, for the most authentic Top Gear representation possible. And as you can't really do the Top Gear Test Track without a Reasonably Priced Car, the Kia Cee'd has been included especially, so you can see if you can top Rowan Atkinson, the current Star In A Reasonably Priced Car board leader. Whether the game will have an in-game leaderboard styled to look like the Top Gear leaderboard is anyone's guess, but if it hasn't, it'll be criminal.
And still, that's not all, because there's even more Top Gear nonsense packed into Forza 4. After all, it wouldn't be a Top Gear tie-in without including some daft Top Gear challenges. As a result, in the once hyper-realistic racing simulator, you'll now be able to take part in Car Bowling and Car Football. In Car Bowling, you drive a car around the Top Gear Test Track knocking over as many pins as you can in a single lap - we'd guess wider cars will be better for this. In a nice touch, Car Bowling will also become a part of Forza 4's Career Mode, which should offer a welcome break from all the straight-out racing you're usually faced with.
Those of you who've watched Top Gear on TV over the years might also remember their quite successful Car Football games, where they tested a pair of small, light, nippy city cars by pitting two teams of cars against one another in a game of football. For those of you who can't remember it, YouTube can help:
But in Forza you're not just limited to the Volkswagen Fox and the Toyota Aygo, as you can build a team of virtually any combination of cars from the roster, so if you really fancy playing a game of eight-on-eight football as a team of Bugatti Veyrons, then you can, and let us know how well it goes. With games allowing up to 16 people to go at it, we can see Car Football becoming a regular staple of our multiplayer nights - even if it's only half as much fun as it sounds.
With full (and optional) Kinect integration, and a range of assists, including auto-braking, and assisted steering, it feels like Forza 4's undergoing something of a change of image this year. While it can still be every bit as challenging and realistic as ever, by including so many ways to make the game easier, and with the return of many of the things that make Forza stand out from the pack, like the ability to paint your cars with a full paint package, allowing for the creation of true masterpieces, which you can then sell on to other players (although sadly, only for in game currency), Forza 4's looking to appeal to a whole new market with a game that anyone can play. Check back for a full review soon!
Forza 4 is out on the 11th of October, exclusively for the 360.