With glistening cars and gorgeous tracks, Forza Motorsport 4 plans to woo gamers and car enthusiasts alike. It’s been a few solid months since we’ve had a decent burst of new information on the Xbox 360’s number one driving series, so we went behind the wheel at this year’s E3 to take the game for a test drive ourselves.

One of the biggest new features for car enthusiasts in Forza Motorsport 4 is Autovista mode, which can be navigated with either a standard controller or Kinect. Not only can you pan your camera around a glimmering ride in your garage, you can now single out new points of interest in the car, opening up Top Gear dialogue that will spurt interesting facts about the vehicle’s specifications, history, or even celebrity history.

By clicking on any door, you can also interactively open the vehicle and take a look at what’s inside for the first time. The vehicle interiors are quite frankly gorgeous, seeming to be perfect replications of their real-life counterparts. Clicking the keys, you can now turn the ignition and feel for yourself what it would be like to start up the ride.

Forza Motorsport 4 is, as expected, absolutely stunning to look at. The graphics are as smooth as can be, thanks to the new image-based lighting system. In previous games, the Forza series relied on different rendering engines for both car and track, which when fine-tuned together looked like a well-balanced, realistic image. Now, one light engine takes care of all the work by shining down and reflecting up off of the ground, and the improvement this makes to the look of the game is obvious.
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Players can import their Forza Motorsport 3 profile into the game, which will then gift them certain vehicles based upon where they were in the older game. This makes all the difference in the new career mode, World Tour. The game will automatically open up new international competitions for you based upon the vehicles in your garage. Even if you have never played Forza 4, import your master class driver profile from Forza 3 and you’ll be able to jump into an S Class race in moments.

Fans of Forza will be happy to know that they will still win vehicles upon each rank increase. In Forza 4, Turn 10 Studios has given players the option of selecting between a few different cars to see which prize they would prefer. Downloading new DLC packages will add those cars to the appropriate rank-up rewards, as well.

Impressively, there were several new racing modes shown off during our E3 2011 demonstration. In Track Days, for instance, the objective is to pass as many cars as possible. This allows players to race against potentially hundreds of vehicles on one track. Of course, most races will feature much smaller numbers — usually between 8 and 16.

Forza 4’s huge selection of cars, tracks, and race types are sure to immerse gamers in a world of racing, but one of the biggest things people have been worried about is the game’s Kinect head tracking feature, which is supposed to follow your head and make the in-game driver look to the left or right. Playing down worries about oversensitivty, Turn 10 reps assured us that the feature mostly tracks your eyes and very subtle movements, as opposed to sloppy sudden turns. Likewise, voice commands in the menu work flawlessly. According to Turn 10, it’s all about making the player feel at home.

“16 player multiplayer? We have that. A full career on world tour? Kinect as a wheel with your kids sitting on a couch? We have that too. The goal is to have diversity so that whoever picks up the game, they think the game was made for them – and they don’t even understand why we did the other features. Each section is just so in-depth. Everyone who plays the game should feel like they’re home.”

There are a plethora of new features that Turn 10 Studios announced all at once, crafting Forza 4 into what seems like a worthy successor to the franchise. With immersive and impressive depth, spotless attention to detail, and significant gameplay changes, Forza 4 is looking like Turn 10’s strongest game yet.

Forza Motorsport 4 is due out this Fall, exclusively for the Xbox 360.

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