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Friday, June 27, 2014

W&HM Industry News: The top 10 video games from E3 2014 by USA Today

Los Angeles, CA, by W&HM - In today's USA Today, there is an article about their evaluation of top 10 games shown in E3 this year.  Unfortunately, none of the driving simulation games made it to the list. In fact, many titles in the list do not even allow the historical existence of mechanical driving machines.  Oh well, maybe next year...  Hopefully there will be some breakthrough in the driving simulation genre that will take some top honors in media coverage.

Here is the original article from USA Today:

The top 10 video games from E3 2014
http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/gaming/2014/06/16/top-video-games-e3/10592777/

Sunday, June 22, 2014

W&HM PR Relay: Forza Horizon 2 Xbox One Fact Sheet

 "Forza Horizon 2"

Xbox One Fact Sheet

June 2014


Title:                              "Forza Horizon 2"

Availability:                   Sept. 30, 2014 – North America and LATAM

                              October 2, 2014 – APAC
                              October 3, 2014 - EMEA

Publisher:                     Microsoft Studios / Turn 10 Studios

Developer:                    Playground Games

ESRB Rating:               Rating Pending 

Format:                         Blu-ray for the Xbox One video game and entertainment system; Xbox Live-enabled; compatible with Kinect for Xbox One

Pricing:                         Day One Edition: $59.99, £49.99, €69.99

Product Overview:      Race through a massive wide-open world featuring dramatic weather and day-to-night cycles. Instantly connect with friends in the ultimate celebration of speed, style, and action-packed driving. Explore beautiful and exotic locations in more than 200 of the world's greatest cars, all created with precise detail in stunning 1080p.

Features:                       Explore a Massive, Living Open World – A world of beauty and freedom awaits.

·   The next evolution of the best-in-class Forza graphics engine delivers full day and night cycle with spectacular weather, lighting, and visual effects.
·   An epic road trip career mode adapts to your car choices with hundreds of events across a beautiful and diverse European landscape.
·   However you like to play, there is an endless variety of free-roam driving fun. Whether you're racing, hunting hidden treasures like exotic barn find cars, or showing off your customized rides at car meet locations spread across the world, the choice is yours.

Action-Packed Driving – Take risks and earn rewards for showing off your driving skills and style.
·   Smash through fences onto back country dirt trails, plow though fields of crops and dense forests, and discover new shortcuts on your thrilling, high- speed adventures.
·   Race against aircraft and trains in thrilling Showcase events.
·   Make your name at the Horizon Festival. Whether you're racing in traffic, catching huge air, or racking up skill points and combos with awesome stunts, your legacy begins here.

Instantly Connect with Friends on Xbox One.
·         Jump between solo and online play instantly. No lobbies, no waiting.
·         Join friends online and free roam together, compete in races and team modes, or take part in fun co-op Bucket List challenges.
·         Join or create your own Car Club of up to 1000 members to expand your network of friends and rule the leaderboards.
·         In solo play, Drivatar™ technology fills your world with your friends even when they aren't online.

Your Ultimate Car Fantasy – Drive more than 200 of the world's greatest cars.
·         A diverse collection of amazing vehicles ranging from extreme off-roaders to modern supercars, classic muscle, and much more.
·         Every car and truck is recreated in obsessive detail, with full cockpit views, including functional windshield wipers, working headlights, and authentic interiors.
·         The Horizon Festival invites you to join its celebration of cars, music, freedom, and fun on the world's greatest roads. Get ready for the road trip of your life!

Features and requirements subject to change. Features vary between Xbox 360 and Xbox One version of game (each sold separately.)  Xbox One games for use only with Xbox One systems. Games made for Xbox 360 will not work on Xbox One. Xbox Live Gold membership (sold separately) required for online multiplayer. Multiplayer between Xbox One and Xbox 360 not supported.

About Turn 10 Studios
"Forza Horizon 2" is published by Microsoft Studios in conjunction with Turn 10 Studios, the creators of the "Forza Motorsport" franchise, which is recognized by Metacritic as the highest rated racing series of the past ten years. In 2013, Turn 10 Studios released "Forza Motorsport 5," the year's most widely acclaimed racing game that was recognized as the "Racing Game of the Year" at the 2014 DICE awards.

More information about the Forza Motorsport franchise is available at http://www.forzamotorsport.net.

About Playground Games
Playground Games is an independent UK game development studio formed in 2009. It was founded by the leadership team responsible for award-winning Codemasters racing franchises "TOCA," "GRID" and "DiRT," and over the past several years has enhanced its core team with experienced developers from Bizarre Creations, Black Rock Studios, Slightly Mad Studios, Criterion Games, Rockstar North and Ubisoft Reflections among others. Playground Games was recognized as the 'Best New Studio' in the Develop Awards 2013.

About Xbox
Xbox is Microsoft's premier entertainment brand for the TV, phone, PC and tablet. In living rooms or on the go, Xbox is home to the best and broadest games, as well as one of the world's largest libraries of movies, TV, music and sports. Your favorite games, TV and entertainment come to life in new ways through the power of Kinect, Xbox SmartGlass and Xbox Live, the world's premier social entertainment network. More information about Xbox can be found online at http://www.xbox.com.

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

The information contained in this fact sheet relates to a pre-release product that may be substantially modified before its first commercial release. Accordingly, the information may not accurately describe or reflect the product when first commercially released. This fact sheet is provided for informational purposes only, and Microsoft Corp. makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the fact sheet or the information contained in it.

For more information, press only:

·         Brandon Vaughan, Assembly, (206) 505-6568, Brandon.Vaughan@assemblyinc.com
·         Ken Zhang, Assembly, (206) 505-6565, Ken.Zhang@assemblyinc.com


Ground Breaking! 2014 E3 Show Driving Simulation Games Big Report by Clinton Lum @calibre68

Los Angeles, CA, Photos and Text by Clinton Lum, Lumdigital - We can only dream of getting behind the wheel of many of the exotic cars that we see at car shows or in magazines, but now we can.  With every new generation of gaming consoles, driving games have only become more realistic.  Developers are now able to harness extraordinary amounts of computing power to render the cars as well as the racing environments.  And as the developers become more familiar with the hardware architectures of the new consoles expect games to get even better in the future.

First up is Forza Horizon 2.

Utilizing the gaming engine of Forza 5, Forza Horizon 2 takes it up a notch from the previous version of Horizon.  This version of the game now allows for car customization.  I don't know about you, but car junkies love to modify their cars both for looks as well as performance.  And with the online aspect of this game, you probably want to stand out, especially when showing up at in-game car meets where you can check out the other players' rides, meet up with your fellow club members or just engage in impromptu races.


 
 
 
 
 
There is good reason why the game has horizon in it.  It's due to the 200+ cars in game and the minimum 100 hours just to finish 100% of the game.  That's pretty insane.  Also, it uses the same Drivatar technology from Forza Motorsport.  The Drivatar is like your own avatar that learns your unique driving characteristics.  So when you are off line, your friends or others can race you and your skills will be displayed via your personal Drivatar. (below from the official press photos)



Horizon 2 is an open world environment.  You are not confined to a track or predetermined race course.  In this game, you can go off road if you like.  Now of course, racing through a vineyard or ramming through wooden fence posts in the countryside will most likely destroy your new Lamborghini, but this is just a game and having the ability to do this kind of free driving is what makes things fun.

Speaking of open world environments, the other driving game that was shown at E3 was The Crew by Ubisoft.  The environment is set in the good ole US of A.  If you wanted to drive from the Atlantic to the Pacific, be my guest.  The trip of course is a bit condensed and it would take just a few hours to travel this distance in game.  That's not too bad considering it would get kind of boring if you had to drive through endless miles of farmland  or barren desert.  As with Horizon, you can also create your own crew to race with as you complete missions.  Upgrading cars is part of the package, and the modification animations are pretty sweet.  Whether you just want a new paint job, wheels, or a full performance upgrade under the hood, it is up to you.   The Crew will be available for the new generation consoles and PC.

(Below photos from official company press photos)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And the last major driving game that I took a look at was DriveClub which will be coming out for the Sony PS4.  The atmospherics such as clouds and day to night transitions look amazing, but you need to wait a bit after the title is available this fall to see how weather dynamics affect driving performance.  Yeah, I know you hard core gamers are anxiously waiting to get your hands on this title, since it has been delayed for a year already, but I think it will be worth the wait.
 
Below are the press photos from the company:
 
 
 
 
 
DriveClub is a different type of game compared to the Horizon 2 or The Crew in that you cannot customize your cars by selecting from unlimited parts to increase performance.  The performance of the cars available are standard so that it all boils down to how you perform with a particular car.  And with racing, there are many variables that must be accounted for in order to come out ahead.  Which racing line you choose, how you approach an apex, and when to make a pass all factor into a winning strategy.


The tracks provided in DriveClub span the globe and there are no open world environments compared to the other two games I looked at. The available cars that can be played with are around 50 with 55 tracks and 5 different locations around the globe.  You can have a team from 2 to 6 drivers, which is a decent amount for head to head team races, but it would be nice to be able to have a larger crew as an option.  It isn't as if your crew of 100 drivers will be on track at the same time, since that would defeat the purpose of racing since there would be no space on track to race.

So to summarize, if you like more open world racing, then consider Forza Horizon 2 or The Crew.  If you want a more focused racing game then DriveClub could satisfy your appetite.  They all come out this fall, so try them out and see which ones you like more.