Microsoft restarted its programme of Xbox One X enhancements for Xbox 360 games this week with four new titles – Forza Horizon, The Witcher 2, Crackdown and Fable Anniversary Edition. We’re seeing the same 9x resolution boost on all releases in concert with improved performance where appropriate, but it’s the first game in this new line-up that’s our focus today. Image quality in Forza Horizon is off the charts in the transition to ultra HD and there are a couple of further, surprising enhancements that caught our eye.
One of the last first party exclusives for Xbox 360, Forza Horizon was a landmark title – a successful collaboration between franchise founders Turn 10 and UK-based start-up Playground Games. While retaining its signature 360Hz physics simulation technology, Playground revamped the Forza Motorsport 4 engine, adding time of day lighting based on over 200 variables to FM4’s existing, beautiful image-based lighting and its gamma correct pipeline. The open world concept was Playground’s idea, and the background streaming tech necessary to create a seamless, vast racing experience came from the Leamington-based studio. It was the beginning of a collaboration that would go on to benefit both studios across a range of racing releases.
What made Forza Horizon’s concept possible was switching down Motorsport’s 60Hz refresh to the more usual 30 frame per second standard, a performance level that is absolutely locked on both original hardware and indeed Xbox One X. Advanced motion blur attempts to pick up the difference – and despite the arrival of a new ‘performance mode’ for the X emulator, the truth is it doesn’t do a whole lot for this title.
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