Think Turn 10's a tad over-obsessed with how cars look? Just wait till you hear about Forza Motorsport 5's dynamic audio design, which recreates not just how cars sound but how they sound in a multitude of circumstances, even changing the score to suit. OXM's Jon Hicks had a chance to discuss the fine details with creative audio director Nick Wiswell during a trip to Turn 10's HQ in May - read about and watch his experiences below.
The soundtrack is entirely procedural, Wiswell told us, and is calculated on the console itself rather than on the Xbox Live cloud. "If you're towards the back we can dim it out, if you're towards the front we can push it up. When you're out on your own we can alter the mix compared to when you're in a dense pack.
"If you start to mess about and go the wrong way, we can bring in some negative element. We even have an element where, as you hunt down the guy in front, there's a sort of 'tension layer' we build up, which releases when you pass the other guy and starts up again as you get to the next car."
Altering the audio on the fly allows Turn 10 to get round a common problem with racing titles. "Cars are very loud and very full-frequency, music's very loud and very full-frequency. When you put the put the two on top of one another, something's got to go. By actually crafting the score around the game, we know where the car's going to be, and we sort of sculpt the music around that to make it a far more cohesive experience for the player."
This is just as well, because car noise has been computed with chilling, multi-layered exactness. "We have different mikes around the engine, the intake system, the exhaust," Wiswell elaborated. "If it's got a turbo, a supercharger, the transmission's in there - there's all these pieces making sound, and in order to deliver that correctly back to the player they all need to be modelled independently of each other."
Details you may pick up on via the audio include throttle, positive torque, negative torque, exhaust upgrade level, turbo boost pressure, which view the player's in, where competitors are and how close your car is to the trackside wall. There's an element of stylisation in the use of non-automotive effects like lion roars and human screams to enhance the mix.
Is this the kind of acoustic fidelity you welcome in a high-octane exclusive racer? Or are you more about the visual finish? Check out our Forza 5 first look for more on that front, or skip to our piece on the game's Drivatars for thoughts about next generation AI.