Forza Horizon throws off the shackles of circuit-based racing in favor of an open-world playground set entirely in Colorado. Players will race all over the Centennial State, barreling through cities and along dirt-covered roads in a selection of the most desirable – and beautifully rendered – cars imaginable.

A new video documentary series takes players behind the scenes of the game and offers a look at some of the features that set Forza Horzion apart from the numbered Forza Motorsport titles, including night racers and courses littered with traffic. Additionally, a number of Forza Horizon cars have been announced – take a look at them below.

Colorado is the setting for the “Horizon Festival,” which in the words of Playground Games Creative Director Ralph Fulton, is “a place where people can take their cars and their friends, where they can go to race or party – all coming together to make a place that cars belong.” Though the festival may be the heart of Forza Horizon, it is the impressively diverse landscapes of Colorado that will be the real draw for racing fans.

Forza Horizon 2012 Ultima GTR

According to Turn 10 Studios Community Manager Brian Ekberg, Horzion’s open-world version of Colorado will allow players to, “go anywhere [they] want… there’s no restriction,” – a claim that is backed up by the game’s listing on the Xbox Marketplace, which states flatly, “If you can see it, you can reach it.”

Not only will players be able to go anywhere they want, they’ll be able to do so at any time of day. While a select few Forza Motorsport 4 tracks, such as the Infineon Raceway, benefited from multiple lighting variations, Forza Horizon comes with a full day/night cycle. Racing at night, the track illuminated by nothing more than your car’s headlights and the distant glow of the full moon, looks absolutely fantastic in the trailer at the top of the page, and could prove to be much more challenging than racing in broad daylight.

Forza Horizon 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe

Regardless of the time of day, Forza Horizon players will need to keep a sharp eye out for traffic as they race through virtual Colorado. Where previous Forza games were all about nailing the perfect line, Horizon tasks players with reacting quickly to the “pedestrian” cars that clog up the raceway – watch the trailer carefully for a glimpse of the explosive consequences of dulled reflexes. It’s not exactly Burnout (or Need for Speed Most Wanted, for that matter), but it’s quite a lot more than scuffed paint and a dented fender.

As with all the previous Forza games, Horizon will be stocked with a wide selection or truly gorgeous cars, both modern and classic. We don’t know exactly how many cars will be available in the finished game (and I suspect it will be fewer than the 500+ in Forza 4), but take a look below (and above) to see what’s been announced so far – and remember that even more cars will be available to players who pre-order Horizon or pick up its Limited Collector’s Edition (click on a pic for each car’s make and model details).

To stay up to date on the very latest Forza Horizon car announcements, be sure to keep an eye on the Turn 10 Studios News Page.

Yes, Horizon looks to be a huge departure from the previous Forza games, but with the series’ trademark handling intact, and an entire state to explore as players see fit, it might not just be different – it might be better. Time will tell, but we’re counting the days until we can put this one through its paces. Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about Forza Horizon in the comments below.

Forza Horizon releases October 23, 2012, exclusively for the Xbox 360.

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Source: Forza Motorsport