Forza Horizon Game Review

17Oct

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Grab your keys, fire your ride up and put the pedal to the metal because Forza Horizon is here and it’s a non-stop ride.  First and foremost, Forza Horizon is an open world racing game that’s kind of a mix and mash between Test Drive Unlimited and Forza Motorsport 4, with a little bit of Need for Speed and Burnout thrown in!  That’s quite a mix right there and it’s something that truly delivers and works exceedingly well.

Gameplay

Forza Horizons begins with you driving about through the gorgeous Colorado country side when you pick up on a broadcast calling out to all driving enthusiasts.  Intrigued, you put the pedal to the metal and head on over to the Festival area which is like one gigantic theme park for cars plonked in the middle of the desert and not a cop car in sight!  Here you discover the opportunity to become the champion of the Horizon Festival and it’s something you want a piece of, and thus the game begins.

Forza Horizons will see you competing in a lot of racing.  Aside from the free roam abilities, you will compete in many different tiers and races.  There are point-to-point races, closed street races, challenges and even off road style races.  As you explore Colorado in free roam, you will discover many of these events as well as various outposts which are essentially mini hubs that are scattered around the map that allow you to fast travel to different areas on the map.  This is handy for those that prefer to race more than explore.  There are also speed challenges and photo challenges that require you to hit a speed trap at a certain speed.  The photo challenges require you to drive a vehicle to a certain point on the map and snap a happy pic, definitely a Test Drive moment right here.  There are a host of other challenges too including Stunt challenges that require you to chain drifts, near misses and other crazy driving tactics together, which certainly feels like a Burnout moment there as well.  Finally there is the showcase events which require you to race against a P-51 Mustang which is actually a WW2 era fighter plane whilst in your Ford Mustang.  First to cross the line wins essentially.  However, personally I was not a fan of this mode and felt that it just didn’t fit the games overall feel.  It’s not a major flaw by any means, just seems odd when it’s compared to the rest of the games modes.

Free roam mode offers more than just travelling to you next location.  Whilst you’re cruising about, you can challenge other festival drivers to a quick race via an instant challenge.  You simply need to make it to the designated waypoint before your challenger does, and if you do you’ll pick up some cash to boot.  Helps make the drive across the countryside more enjoyable for sure.  Another great addition is the Barn Find idea, where your job is to keep a look out for old run down barns on the side of the road or hidden inside some off road areas.   When you do stumble across a Barn Find, you’ll get your hands on some rare rides, such as the Shelby Daytona or the Jaguar D-Type.  These Barn Find cars are then restored and ready for use thanks to your pals in the garage, so be sure to be on the lookout for these.

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In terms of gameplay, the first question on my mind was in regards to the way the racing and handling feels in Forza Horizon.  Having played Forza 4 for many hours, the driving style was engraved into my brain, and thus other racers just don’t feel the same.  The great news with Forza Horizon is that same feeling is present yet again. All of the physics that are under the hood are ripped straight from Forza Motorsport 4.  From the cars unique handling characteristics, to the sounds of the engine have all been migrated perfectly into Forza Horizon.

The handling to begin with I found was over assisted with suggested racing lines, traction control, ABS, braking assistance and more all turned on.  This set up makes the game accessible to many new gamers and racers which is great.  However, turn off some of those settings and instantly the game changes to an unbridled beast that is a 70’s Mustang pumping out 400 horsepower and kicking the tail out at every opportunity.  This is why I love Forza, because each car feels different and depending on your driving preference, there’s a setup and a car that matches your style, you just got to find it!  It’s the things such as the way an AWD car handles and steers compared to a RWD or FWD variant.  This is where Forza has nailed it perfectly and Horizon continues to deliver that same feel.

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When you’re not racing and just feel like kicking back, you can always head on over to the tuning shop to buy some performance upgrades for your ride, or perhaps paint your ride and customise it in every way possible.  Fans of Forza will be pleased to note that those customisation features are indeed present as well as the online Marketplace, so get creative.

Multiplayer

Forza Horizons features all the usual online modes with a stack of race types and customisations.  There is for example, the extremely popular Cat and mouse modes, or there are other modes where you can simply race against your friends Ghost Lap times should you wish to set a new record in Rival’s mode. With support for up to 8 players online there’s plenty of fun to be had.

Sound

The second biggest component of any racer is the audio and the way the cars sound.  From the sound of pistons firing and exhausts bellowing, to screeching tyres it’s all here and recreated in true perfectionist style in Forza Horizons.  Forza Horizons, like Forza 4 has an extensive catalogue of real engine sounds that have been recorded and inserted in to the game from their real life variants.  The sound of a Nissan GTR Skyline engine is immediately identifiable much like a boxter engine from a Subaru Impreza, or the sound of a V12 Ferrari that’s snapping the tacho at 12,000 RPM!  The sounds are truly representative of the real thing and are extremely well represented in Forza Horizons.

Then there’s the radio, which your either going to love or hate.  For racers, the sound of the engine is all the music you’ll need, but, if you want to tune in to the festival music channels, then with the flick of the D-pad you can select to tune in or tune out.

Graphics

Forza Horizons visually lives up to the standards set by Forza 4, and in some instances it exceeds.  The Colorado Desert is filled with beautiful scenery with open roads, twisty mountain roads and many small towns.  You can stop on the side of the road and admire the view of the countryside, or perhaps the glow of the party scene in the centre of town that glows so elegantly at night.  The details on the environments are great and even little things like piles of leaves that blow away as your car speeds on by is a nice touch.  The reflections on the cars and lighting are also very well done and you feel like you are part of the real world right here with Forza Horizons.

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Most importantly are the cars, which have been superbly recreated and modelled flawlessly.  If there’s one thing that Forza has set the benchmark for, it’s the visual presentation of the cars.  There is so much detail on each car model, and all that detail combined with the environment still runs at a flawless 60fps and more.  There is never the slightest ounce of slowdown at all throughout the experience.  Nothing is compromised.

Value

Forza Horizons will offer extremely great value for money.  Apart from competing in all the events and challenges, Forza extends the experience with the ability to play online with various game modes and types.  Or, if single player is your thing, there is a host of things you can do from challenges, speed traps and finding those hidden rides or smashing signs to earn upgrades all in free roam mode.  Or, if you prefer, you can lose hours and days even customising and creating vinyls and layers for your ride.  There certainly is an incredible amount of value with Forza Horizon.

Conclusion

If you enjoyed Forza 4, then you’re going to love Forza Horizon.  Everything you’ve come to expect is here, plus more.  With a huge open world and a story to boot, you’ll feel like you’re part of the Horizon festival. Playground games have truly delivered an awesome racing experience that proves there’s more to racing than just race after race.  It’s a culture, and Forza Horizon is a must buy for anyone who wants to experience every aspect of motorsport racing without feeling intimidated.  Ladies and gentlemen start your engines and take a ride though the glorious Colorado.

9 / 10

Pros:

+ Open World Environment

+ Built on Forza 4 Assets

+ Plenty of events

Cons:

- Not as many tuning options

Boosty