We’ve already mentioned the ten free classic cars that are bundled in with Forza 3 for some day one DLC goodness, but now the official Forza site has blogged about one of the track sets that are also in the free DLC: The Benchmark High Speed Ring. I’ve got the code here for the track but it’s seemingly not activated yet, so I’ll need to let Evan Griffey from the Turn 10 team take it from here: “Benchmark High Speed Ring is an over-the-top driving venue that offers a schizophrenic array of automotive challenges. There are 16 track configurations to burn rubber on: seven dedicated circuits (forward and reverse) and two dragstrips,” says Evan.
At 3.96 miles Benchmark’s huge oval, reminiscent of OEM test tracks with high-degree banking, is the longest in FM3. The facility was originally conceived as a top speed test venue. And the story could have stopped there but the track’s art lead Terrance Newell, a Forza community member and avid player saw the open space inside the super speedway as an opportunity to think outside the box. The genesis was Ken Block’s Gymkhana video. “We watched those Ken Block videos like every other day,” says Newell. “When I saw the Gymkhana Practice video I was like, wow, I want that. I want to be able to do that in our game.” Turn 10s Rhett Mathis and Dan Greenawalt supported the project early in development as it spread its wings.
“I have these two big open areas I am trying to make sense of visually and that’s tough” explains Newell. “We got a directive make this thing wide open without anything on it but make it awesome. Visually how do I make a big flat plane not look like a big flat plane? I talked with Turn 10’s Landin Williams whose also part of Project Blackjack about what would take it to the next level. I came away with the idea that tracks had drift zones that always limited the possibilities. Benchmark was limitless, opening up the door to a pure style of drifting. I decided to take simple elements like tires and cones etc. and make them objects not obstacles. These elements are interacted with…not avoided. It’s a freestyle playground and drift scoring is not the emphasis of this track. Benchmark breaks the rules of track design; it’s a venue where player can go mess around and experiment without the constraint of a lap timer.”
“One of the coolest aspects of the track”, says Evan, “are the numerous inconspicuously placed drift obstacle/challenges Newell cleverly sprinkled throughout the facility for players to explore and utilize as they see fit. Further with the strategic placement of replay cameras Newell expects to see some wicked ‘Forzakhana’ videos come from Benchmark.”
Benchmark’s dragstrip venue also goes one step beyond. Newell, who was collaborating with the Forza design team heavily to develop the tracks layouts, was approached by Greenawalt with the idea of drawing from the raw ‘run what you brung’ attitude of the “Pinks” TV show. The strip at Benchmark is eight lanes wide with four sets of Christmas trees and no excuses. Overall Benchmark is way for Turn 10 to give something back to its online community. From conception this course has been designed as a development lab where players can stretch their imaginations and create new, never-before seen game types or really enjoy demo derby, tag, cat and mouse and other multi-player game types.
We’ll have the full TSA review of Forza 3 very soon…