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Going Small with City Cars
Forza 4 has yet again revised the performance index. One thing made possible by this revision is a new class of small cars, known in many places of the world as city cars or micro cars. Examples include the Ford Ka and Chevy Spark.
The inclusion of these cars is, to be honest, one of my least favorite aspects of Forza 4. Small cars like the Ford Fiesta and Mazda2 have at least some sporting intent and are sometimes found to be serious competitors in real racing.
City cars, however, are almost never found on the race track. In addition, they offer no additional content to the campaign mode. Your first city car can be used for just a single race, if you desire, and players who've enjoyed Forza 3 will be given a number of gift cars based on their campaign experience in the previous game.
So, why were they included at all? I suspect it has something to do with the Top Gear tie-in, a show that has depicted small cars such as these in made-up sports like car soccer. New game modes inspired by this were added to Forza 4's multi-player. Although these modes can be fun, I think this is one area where Turn 10 made the wrong choice. Yes, the city cars are a nice novelty, but no one is going to come back to the game time and time again because of them.
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Porsche (Mostly) Disappears
New titles in a racing franchise are supposed to add cars and brands that were not previously represented. Forza 4, however, lost Porsche, which is one of the world's most recognized automotive brands. What happened?
The issue is licensing. As you might expect, developers have to license the right to use an automotive company's cars in their game. Usually, this license is made available to multiple developers, or it is made available to one developer who then offers it to others in the trade for their own exclusive licenses. In the end, gamers receive the cars they want without knowing that a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo was involved.
However, this time was different. Electronic Arts, publisher of the Need for Speed franchise, holds exclusive license to Porsche. Some bigwigs decided that this license should not be made available to competitors, so Forza 4 was deprived of the Porsche brand.
However, it's still sorta-kinda possible to drive a Porsche. You see, there is a German automotive company called RUF that takes the chassis of an existing Porsche and tweaks it for better performance. Their relationship is similar to that of the Saleen brand to Ford - often, Saleen modifies Ford cars to create their own, but they're an independent entity. RUF is included in Forza 4, so if you really want to drive a Porsche, look them up.
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American Muscle Makes a Strong Showing
Often, the national bias of a developer turns up in their games. Gran Turismo has always been developed in Japan, and that's shown in the selection of cars. There is usually a wider selection of cars from Asian brands than from others, a fact that's often criticized by western gamers.
Forza 4, however, is developed in America and that comes through in the car selection. The game offers a wide selection of American muscle both new and old. Mustangs, Corvettes, Camaros, and even GTOs are well represented in-game. While many of these offerings fit the classic muscle car image of a big car with a big engine that isn't great in corners, some of the cars are surprisingly nimble, such as the original Mustang.
Even if you are not a fan of muscle cars, you should drive a few. Forza 4's sound quality is incredible, and the classic V8 roar of these cars has been precisely reproduced.
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Some Notable Exceptions
For example, there is no 2011 Mustang of any sort. The newest is the old version of the Shelby. Considering how well receive the new Mustang GT was in the press, it seems odd that it was not included at the launch of this game. Another oversight is the Lamborghini Aventador. At the same time, the game does include the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. It seems as if too much effort was put in to cars that people don't want to race.
This may yet again come down to licensing. Both the Leaf and Volt are very new cars, and their inclusion likely required cooperation from their manufacturers. Turn 10 may have been given incentive to include these cars or may have been strong-armed into including them in exchange for additional licenses to other vehicles.
All of this is pure speculation, however. We'll never know exactly why some cars made it in and others did not.
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Still a Great Game
If you feel the tone of this article was a bit negative, you haven't mis-read. I'm a bit down on the selection in Forza 4. I think they missed some opportunities and included cars that have no business being in the game.
Even so, Forza 4 is the best automotive racing sim you can buy. You can read more about my love for it in my Forza 4 review.