(Microsoft Studios for Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano
Passion is a hard thing to identify in games, but I know it when I see it. When I play Bayonetta, I know that its creators have an unbridled enthusiasm for the medium of videogames, and that passion is communicated to the player. Same goes for Forza 4; there’s no way you can play it and not feel overcome by the potent “car love” vibes that this game radiates. Meticulously detailed tracks and cars, narration from Top Gear‘s Jeremy Clarkson, an Autovista mode that allows you to poke around fully-featured car interiors – Forza 4 feels like the culmination of tons of meetings about how to cram new things into the game, and they all end up being cool. For a game so huge, it’s also very welcoming: Unskilled or simply curious players can still race around the world thanks to driving assists, or play around in the game’s deep design modes and auction houses. Meanwhile, hardcore players can tinker with a bottomless chasm of customizable options (no detail is too fine for developer Turn 10: Feel free to monitor the changing pressure, from start to finish, of each of your tires during replays). All of this content exists under an incredible layer of polish so everything, as one might expect from a game obsessed with the roar of a smooth-running engine, is navigable effortlessly and without hiccups. Forza 4 is the new best in class for sim racers.