It is always nice to see large companies getting behind the car scene and promoting their products through that scene. Our scene is huge and extremely diverse, so it would seem only fitting to promote your automotive based product through that. What better way to do this than rounding up Australia’s most popular car blogs and bringing them together for the launch of your product?! This is exactly what Microsoft, Xbox Australia and Turn 10 Studios did for the launch of the hotly anticipated Forza Horizon game released on the Xbox 360 this October.

Being a car enthusiast myself, and a very obsessed one at that, I love car games, especially the Forza franchise. I’ve been playing it since day 1 and have put countless hours into racing, fine tuning, modifying and doing burnouts of course. So on the announcement of Forza Horizon (the 5th instalment), I was very keen to get my hands on the game. And when I was contaced by Rob at Matespace asking if we wished to attend the launch at the Sydney International Motorshow, I jumped at the chance!! Unfortunately the other half of Downshift, Matyas is living it up in Vietnam at the moment and could not make it, but strangely I did not feel bad for him in the slightest.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the promotional 370Z all stickered up in Forza Horizon gear. As you can see the setup was quite impressive with 8 Xboxes lined up with the game, some cool bucket seats and drinks/food on hand.  Most of the car blog guys from around Australia know each other quite well, so it felt like catching up with old friends, as well as putting names to faces. It’s good that our community has only a little rivalry and everyone is in it for the love of cars. After some mingling, the hosts brought us over and layed out plans for the night.

Unknown to us was that there was a competition and prizes up for grabs: an Xbox 360 Slim, a copy of Forza Horizon, a bottle of champagne, photos with the Forza promo girls, a trophy, a medal and of course ultimate bragging rights.

The battle consisted of two heats, then a final to determine the overall winner.

I play a lot of Xbox, and I mean A LOT. This includes a lot of Forza Motorsport 4, so I was confident but didn’t really expect much to happen. I jumped in the first race and started in 7th, and it took a lap or two to really get to grips with the game. While it is very similar to Forza in terms of handling and car balance, the tracks are in an open world, are a lot harder to navigate and seem a LOT faster. I somehow managed to make my way to 1st on the first heat.. Stoked with my efforts and realising I might have a shot at this, I watched the others racing and examined the opposition, like a true racer. They seemed damn fast and I started to feel the nerves building inside me.. But soon the final battle was up, and the best 6 players from the 16 entrants went at it. When I sat down, I felt like the beginning of Eminem’s 8 Mile: “palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy…” I sat in the same spot again, starting me in 7th, at the back of the pack hoping to avoid the crashes and carnage at the first turn, a wickedly sharp left hander. After navigating through the crashes I came out in 4th place.. I could see 3rd and 2nd in front, but 1st was miles ahead. 2nd and 3rd battled each other, resulting in a wreck on turn 3, another sharp ‘S’ bend, so I found myself in 2nd and could TASTE that champagne. I kicked on and hunted 1st down, shaving the gap from 6 to 2.5 seconds. But as luck would have it, the leader felt the pressure and lost control over a slight crest. He spun out and I casually rolled into 1st! At this point I just had to hold my spot and not screw the pooch racing myself. Thanks to some insane battling going on behind me and an open track ahead of me, I managed to create an 11 second lead and drove my way to victory. I felt like I just won a F1 race, royalty on the podium, photographers snapping away. Downshift came, we saw and we conquered Forza Horizon.

The game is extremely well done, as are all Turn 10 games. I was a little unsure coming into it just how arcade they had gone, but thankfully not at all. The game still retains its trademark physics and natural car weight. They have improved vastly on the game’s ability to give you a real sense of speed, and you now feel like you are travelling the speeds you are and driving on real Colorado roads. Other cars and dirt paths make the game all the more thrilling. Was good to see the high level of details back on the cars, as well as the return of my favourite, the interior view. I will be bringing you guys a full review of the game once I have had some more time with it. The game was released worldwide on October 23rd and is on sale now at your local video game stores.

I would like to extend a thanks to Matespace for inviting us, Xbox Australia for putting the amazing display on and bringing all of us bloggers together as a whole, The Low-Down, JDMStyleTuning, Grip Shift Slide, Daily Auto Fix and all the other rad bloggers who we are friends with, as well as Alanah for traveling down with me. She also MCd and hosted the event on behalf of Xbox Australia, so keep an eye out for an upcoming video on the Xbox Live Dashboard covering the event.

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