Turn 10 to Release Fast & Furious Collaboration March 27

Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & FuriousIn collaboration news that is both surprising and entirely logical, Microsoft’s Turn 10 Studios announced a promotional collaboration with Universal Partnerships & Licensing that will join Forza Horizon 2 and the upcoming addition to the Fast & Furious movie franchise, Furious 7. Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious will release for the Xbox One on March 27 as a stand alone expansion to last year’s very well received Forza Horizon 2 and will be free to download until April 10.

Players will be recruited by franchise mechanic Tej Parker, voiced by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, to source and test out the vehicles needed for the Fast & Furious crew’s next big heist. Missions will take place in the south of France, much like the region explored in Forza Horizon 2, with a variety of challenges for players to partake in as well as a free roam mode to explore the map.

The expansion will feature more than eleven cars, all modified to Fast & Furious levels, including Dominic Toretto’s iconic Dodge Charger. The cars confirmed so far are:

  • 1970 Dodge Charger R/T
  • 2012 Nissan GT-R
  • 1998 Toyota Supra
  • 2014 Maserati Ghibli S
  • 1970 Plymouth Road Runner
  • 2015 Dodge Charger R/T
  • 1970 Plymouth Cuda
  • 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

It is a fairly healthy list of cars that has a very good variety with exotics, SUVs, imports and especially muscle cars well represented. I hope that the associated liveries to these cars, the Toyota Supra in particular, will be included as well. Mostly so we can be done with the scores of orange Fast & Furious knock off liveries that have been created by users since the original Forza Motorsport.

I’m hoping the expansion adopts at least one special challenge that has players racing a train (complete with a slow-motion jump at the end) or dragging a ridiculously oversized safe through the streets of Miami (not really). There is no word on whether the expansion will add to the library of cars for Forza Horizon 2.

The free availability is in promotion of the theatrical release of Furious 7 on April 3. Furious 7 is notable as it is late star Paul Walker’s last film before his death in 2013. The price for the expansion will be $10 after the free promotional period ends.

Xbox Wire – Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious – At No Charge for a Limited Time!

Forza Motorsport 6 Unveiled Alongside New Ford GT

Forza Motorsport 6

Forza Motorsport 6 was announced today with a reveal trailer put out by Microsoft. As part of Microsoft’s continued partnership with Ford, the newly unveiled production model of the Ford GT will play a prominent role in the seminal racing simulator from Turn 10 Studios. You heard right, the Ford GT is back.

The game will be playable at E3 2015 and will also feature other marquee Ford vehicles like the Shelby Mustang GT350 and the Shelby tuned Ford F-150 Raptor. If this partnership keeps bearing fruit, we might see some additional vehicles like the North American version of the Ford Focus RS or even Ken Block’s custom Ford Fiesta ST RX43, his Gymkhana Fiesta ST HHV or even his custom AWD 1965 Mustaing ‘Hoonicorn’.

I don’t care that the announcement trailer is just the new Ford GT at the Detroit Auto Show and the in-game model. It’s the Ford GT. The Ford GT is back. Ford GT.

Aside from the obvious cover-boy nature of the Ford GT, there is no real surprise that Forza Motorsport 6 is on its way. The franchise began alternating years with its Motorsport series and the Forza Horizon series beginning in 2011 with Forza Motorsport 4.

Hopefully Turn 10 learned their lesson following the negative feedback Forza 5 received for its aggressive use of microtransactions and in-game currencies. Forza Horizon 2 rectified much of these concerns by following a traditional career growth model which was augmented by additional DLC.

Did I mention the Ford GT is back?

Top Ten Tuesday E3 2013 Edition – Biggest News to Come Out of the Pre-Show Presentations

E3 officially begins today, as the show will open to denizens of reporters (not named Theory Flaw) ready for terrible food, hourly deadlines and product demos galore. But while many games will get their moment of glory in the coming days, the major players have already opened their hands for heads-up poker. Franchise reboots, new exclusives, new consoles and product strategy highlight this list of the biggest news to come out of the pre-show presentations.

10. Crimson Dragon

I had to try my hardest not to write Dragoon because this is clearly designed in the vein of the stellar dragon riding series Panzer Dragoon. Even bringing back Panzer Dragoon series director Yukio Futatsugi this Kinect based Xbox One game features massive bosses and gorgeous dragon-borne aerial combat. While I fear it may play a little too closely to Child of Eden, this is clearly a bold move by Microsoft.

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Forza Horizon Review – The Drive of Your Life

Forza Horizon

Racing games like to make a lot of statements. Photo-realistic car models, dynamic tracks and evolving course layouts, authentic engine sounds, revolutionary physics engines, human-like AI opponents. It’s the nature of the genre. Because all of these features are expected out of the best racing games, its no surprise that the good racing franchises are consistently held to the same standards. Racing games are constantly evolving, but rarely do they stray from the course.

Maybe that’s why Forza Horizon is so refreshing. There have been other open-world type racing games before (Test Drive Unlimited, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Need for Speed Underground), but none felt as alive as the Horizon Festival in Colorado does.

Forza Horizon Continue reading

Would you like fries with that? – On Pre-Orders & Collector’s Editions

Forza Motorsport 4

image credit: forzamotorsport.net

GameStop has created a business model built on pre-orders and used game sales. Try purchasing a game on launch day without a pre-order is like playing Russian roulette, only their might be more rounds in the cylinder. Odds are that if you waltz into a GameStop without a prepaid deposit, you are more likely to get judgmental stares and criticisms of: “Sorry, we’ve sold out our launch stock, you should have pre-ordered.”

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that often pre-order bonuses of downloadable content are included as incentive to choose a pre-order deposit over a $5 footlong at Subway. Before the days of DLC (and DLC pre-order vouchers), pre-order swag was a mini-strategy guide, or a map, or a plushie, or an abnormally thin T-shirt. Now, as a consumer, I feel that I’m not getting the entire experience of a game if I don’t have that super secret retro costume & mission pack that comes only with a pre-order.

Factor this into the allure of Limited Collectors Steelbook Fancy-Pants Editions and it is all over for me. Not only do I have to shell out $60 for the base game, tack on another $10 for the special edition, another $20 for the limited collector’s edition or another $40-$90 for space wasting models and toys that look really cool on paper, but not so much on my already cluttered desk. Continue reading

E3 Early Impressions

Leave it to a couple of expected announcements, some really nice gameplay footage and a couple surprises to get me excited about E3 again.

First off, Microsoft seems to be trying (a little too desparately) to integrate casual online functions and gaming with the Xbox 360. A bit of it was highlighted previously with the New Xbox Experience and things like 1 vs 100 Live. Now they’re adding social networking functionality via Facebook and Twitter. I think this is a novel idea and one that could potentially be a nice little feature.

The other is Natal, or the 360’s answer to Wii motion/IR. Sony already has SIXAXIS, which is ok, but nothing spectacular. Natal promises to be different by using a camera to track whole body motion, something that sounds similar to the PS2’s EyeToy or the Xbox Vision camera that came out a couple years ago.  My take on motion control is it can be a bother at times, especially when you are forced to use it. Some games make good use of motion sensitivity like Uncharted had a little bit of it and several Wii games are exceptional at it. But for the most part it’s Microsoft tapping into a gimmick that all its competition has. Although if Steven Spielberg is helping announce it, I suppose all is forgiven…

Now onto some game impressions…

The Beatles Rock Band – I had heard a lot about it before and  I’m already very excited about it. I love the new guitars and the idea to chronicle the Fab Four’s career. Watching it in motion is something else. Going from Liverpool to the United States, playing the various stages of their career from performing on TV, to stadiums to their LSD trip period. The Beatles looks like an incredible experience. Throw in not two part harmonization, but three and this looks like the step that the Rock Band / Guitar Hero formula needed to take.

Left 4 Dead 2 – You knew it was coming, just not this fast. Coming at the end of the year, Valve is bringing the sequel to the one of my favorite games of last year, Left 4 Dead. Four new survivors (which unfortunately means no Louis…aww) take on the zombie horde at the same time as the first game, just in new cities, including French Quarter New Orleans amongst others. There’s a new focus on melee combat with weapons like baseball bats, frying pans and (yay) Chainsaws. I’m hoping for custom characters, so we’ll see.

Halo ODST – The “expansion pack” has become a spin-off, and apparantly that spin-off deserves a $59.99 MSRP.  Impressions from the first gameplay trailer are good, it’s still very Halo-ish. But I wonder how is one normal ODST supposed to fight the Covenant in a Master Chief like fashion, without having any Spartan abilities. I see a silenced sub-machine gun and really that’s about it. The campaign looks very good with a lot of interweaving stories including Reach and what might be the first Covenant assault on Earth.

Halo Reach – Here’s the game that looks to hoist the flag as a true descendant of Halo. Reach is a story that has already been published and many know about but the teaser trailer looks to bring chaos and a massive Covenant army assaulting Earth. There also looks to be many Spartans. Excellent.

Forza Motorsport 3 – The trailer looks really wonky. Choreographed stunt driving at high speeds looks all fine and good, but Forza isn’t exactly known for it’s tricks. Drifing in Forza has always been something I’ve been curious about after watching videos on YouTube so maybe there will be a bit more of a focus on that. What I can say, is that the engine has been revamped, it will run at 60 frames/sec and there will be as many as 400 cars in the next installment. Drops October.

Crackdown 2 – The game that everybody bought to get into the Halo 3 Beta turned out to be not half bad. Crackdown 2 looks to have a more detailed cell-shaded engine and all the superpowers that made the first one fun. It also looks to have something more monstrous going on than taking down crime gangs.

Metal Gear Solid Rising – Leave it to Hideo Kojima to steal the stage at Microsoft’s press conference. MGS Rising will be a new Metal Gear, focusing on an older Raiden. Hopefully between MGS2 and MGS4, during the time he goes rogue. I like the idea, Raiden is a much better character now than he was after MGS2. It has been anounced for 360, but Kojima is likely to announce it for PS3 later.

Final Fantasy XIII – Nothing new on FFXIII yet, except a release window. Looks to come out on 360 March 2010. Ps3 Simultaneously? Is Square focusing on the 360 or the PS3 release in America? It’s hard to say. Why wouldn’t they announce a solid PS3 window?