MOST people in the Capital associate Princes Street with countless tourists and busy traffic – but a major new video game is set to transform Scotland’s most iconic thoroughfare into the perfect urban car racing track.
Famous streets in Edinburgh’s New Town and iconic landmarks such as the Scott Monument and Edinburgh Castle will all feature in Forza Horizon 4, the latest instalment from one of the world’s most popular racing game franchises.
The game, introduced at a huge gaming convention in Los Angeles on Sunday, is set in a fictionalised representation of Great Britain and also features other parts of Scotland including Lochaber and the Isle of Skye.
But Edinburgh has been chosen as the game’s “featured city”, following in the footsteps of Nice in France and Genoa in Italy on previous titles.
Ralph Fulton, chief creative officer at the game’s developer Playground, said: “Choosing the city we feature in Horizon games is always a big decision for us – we’re looking for a city which is beautiful to be in and fun to drive around.
“For my money, Edinburgh is the most beautiful city in the UK and its road network had just the right combination of surface and elevation changes to make it fun for racing and exploring.
“I worked in Edinburgh for three years earlier in my career, and blasting down Princes Street past the Scott Monument is a real thrill for me. I think it will be for our millions of fans too.”
Edinburgh has rarely featured as a setting in video games, but old Playstation racers Project Gotham and Test Drive 5 both included Edinburgh’s winding streets as part of their playable tracks.
The Dundee-based creators of the famous Grand Theft Auto series also included
models of the Forth Road bridges in its title San Andreas.
Over 22 million people played the Forza series last year and the latest instalment, to be released on October 2, will offer the chance to play online in settings like Edinburgh in a “shared environment”.
Tony Gowland, lead designer of local games developer Ant Workshop, says he hopes the game will also encourage developers to look at
Edinburgh’s thriving video games industry.
He said: “It’s pretty unusual to see Edinburgh in a big name game – the last one I can think of was Project Gotham 2 for the original Xbox 15 years ago – so it was lovely to see it featured on stage on Sunday and quite fitting it was from Xbox again!
“Edinburgh’s developer scene is lively and varied, from the heavy hitters at Rockstar through mid-sized outfits like Everywhere and Blazing
Griffin, down to up-and-coming indies such as ourselves. There is a good support network for small outfits too, with regular social meet-ups GameDevEd and the co-working space Whitebox 56.
“As an indie outfit we don’t really try and compete directly against things like Forza – their budgets run in to the millions of pounds – instead it’s common to see indies creating games around more unusual gameplay or art styles.”
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