When Forza Motorsport 4 released last fall to a cheery reception (read our review), it burnt the rubber off of a two year wait from it's predecessor, Forza Motorsport 3. Doubtless, the bi-annual development cycle gave Turn 10 Studios the proper amount of time to tune up the game engine and gave fans of Microsoft's best-selling racing series time to enjoy the heap of vehicular content present on the disc.
That format is still in place for now -- Turn 10 doesn't plan to release Forza Motorsport 5 until 2013 -- but it won't be stopping a spinoff entitled Forza Horizon from releasing later this fall. The announcement came from Turn 10's Dan Greenawalt , who revealed at the Xbox Spring Showcase that Forza Horizon will be principally developed by Playground Games and will strive to be a "fast-paced, pick-up-and-play racing game."
No specific details on the game were imparted, but Greenawalt explained why Turn 10 pegged Playground Games -- a UK studio formed in 2009 by ex-Codemasters executives Trevor Williams and Nick Wheelwright -- for the job:
"Those guys stepped away from Codemasters studio and started their own studio about two years ago. "
"At that same time we were looking for a partner to push our vision - gamers as car lovers and car lovers as gamers. We wanted them to embrace this vision but also come up with their own way of executing their own thoughts, so we could expand the house - not just duplicate it."
A teaser trailer for Forza Horizon was also released at the event. It doesn't show off any new gameplay or features, but the music concert vibe, brief dirt racing snippet, and obligatory girl-in-bikini shot likely indicate a departure from Forza's sim-racing ethos:
Turn 10 hasn't discussed their future plans for Playground Games as a co-developer of the Forza series, but Greenawalt's "expand the house" comments have all the feel of a rotating annual schedule (a la Infinity Ward and Treyarch's Call of Duty format). Hopefully, though, Horizon doesn't become too infringing on the primary Forza Motorsport brand that's responsible for a massive racing community on Xbox Live -- the two games might even be aiming at a separate audience altogether.
It will be interesting to see how Horizon stacks up with the recent pack of arcade-style racers like DiRT 3, Blur, and Need for Speed: The Run. But, if Forza 4 fans decide not to shift gears and wait for Forza 5 in 2013 instead, Forza 4's always-persistent DLC should provide enough fuel for the trip.
Ranters, what do you think about Turn 10 and Playground Games attempting to create a Forza Motorsport spin-off? Will a change of pace between Forza's flagship installments of the game help or hinder the franchise?
Forza Horizon is scheduled for a Fall 2012 release on the Xbox 360.
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