Guru Larry and Ian Higton (Platform32) check out the latest Forza installment!
Developer: Playground, Turn 10
Guru Larry and Ian Higton (Platform32) take a very early review at Microsoft’s latest installment in their racing series, Forza Horizon. Unfortunately they played it so early no one else in the world is online, so it’s a rather barren world for them to populate. It’s the internet equivalent of Omega Man.
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Forza Horizon departs from the usual experience and goes open world on us. Surely that can’t be a good thing? Find out right here.
Remember when Forza was about realistic driving on real race tracks around the world? Yeah, well you had best forget about all of that. It’s time to do away with set races tracks and a voice over by Jeremy Clarkson in favor of a pretentious rave/festival. Welcome to Horizon, I suggest you buckle in.
|PROS||Fun open world, Beautiful, Easy to play, Loads of content|
|CONS||A mix of other games that never really makes its mark, Small selection of music|
|WTF?!||Restarting a race restarts the soundtrack which totally does not get annoying….|
It seems like every racing game needs a story these days and Forza Horizon is no different. Essentially, while hanging out near a festival in Colorado, you hear that the first 10 amateur racers to make it through the gate will get a free pass into the event. Obviously, you get in, avoiding a disappointingly short game to start your oh so dramatic climb to the top. You battle rivals, listen to DJ’s talk about nonsense, and slowly realize that human beings seem to only exist at race tracks and are eerily absent from sidewalks and buildings. I reckon that last bit is a setup for the DLC Forza Zombie. All the cool kids are making zombie games.
Unlike previous Forza games, Horizon is open-world, with events scattered around the map. Starting off with only one or two choices, the game later opens up to offer you a multitude of events to take part in. The challenges are pretty varied too, with track racing sometimes take a breather to allow street races and rallying courses to take the stage. There are also some rather interesting special events that can see you racing biplanes and hot air balloons! You can even challenge any named driver you see on the road to a quick A to B street race for extra cash. Forza Horizon is not lacking in content.
The map itself is nicely varied and less infuriating than a lot of open world games. The variation comes in both look and style, mixing up dusty canyons with urban environments alongside many other surfaces for players to show their skills on. There is also a ton of extras to discover including discounts signs, hidden vehicles, and challenges. You’ll often find yourself blinded for half a second as you zoom past an unseen speed camera, which surprisingly is a good thing, as each camera records your best speed past it! Evidently, the cops just couldn’t give a damn.
The handling in Forza Horizon is somewhere between arcade and realistic–a happy middle ground, if you will. However, with the customizable options of previous Forza games returning, players can alter the game to suit them. On default settings, the game feels like a relaxed PGR, which is ironic considering Forza has pretty much stolen PGR‘s Kudos system. Aside from money you win in races, you can also win popularity by performing stunts and feats while speeding your way through both the open words and the race track. Increasing your popularity gets you invited to special events, and at the same time earns you a ton of additional cash through sponsors. Why Adidas want me to power slide everywhere, I do not know.
Speaking of corporate advertising, nigh on every brand of car you can think of makes an appearance in Horizon. From Ford to Jaguar, if you have the funds, the selection available is formidable. Some brands do seem a little light on the ground with only two or three vehicles available, but when you can drive around in a Bugatti Veyron, who gives a damn! No matter what you think of the size of the selection, no one can deny that each machine has been presented beautifully.
Forza Horizon is easily one of the best looking racing games on the market today, if not the best. Every time I start to think that the Xbox 360 has fallen behind the technological curve and developer goes out there and proves me wrong. While I would love to go into all the technical reasons Forza Horizon is so impressive, I would probably bore half of you to death and I hear that’s bad for business. You don’t have to be a technology enthusiast to realize that the environments, particle effects, lighting, and vehicles in Forza are stunning, but it certainly helps you respect the effort that has gone into creating it.
Online modes are easy enough to access, with up to 8 players competing in pretty much any event from the single player campaign. The connection times are pretty quick and I noticed no lag while getting my ass handed to me. I was a little disappointed to discover that no local multiplayer is available, but it’s not the end of the world. If playing online isn’t enough for you, you can post images straight from the game onto “My Forza” at the official game site. While it’s not my thing, it is a nice touch, which I am sure many social media enthusiast will take advantage of.
Everything in Forza Horizon works without a hitch. There is not a glitch in sight, loading times are short and sweet, the frame-rate stays steady and online races are seamless. Playground Games have even added fast travel points in the map for gamers like me who get bored driving across half the map to get to the next event. It’s a game for everyone.
So, it may come as some surprise that I don’t advise everyone to run out and buy it. While Forza Horizon is a technical marvel and it’s hard to find a flaw in the gameplay, but it is not a must have. No, I am not going to pick apart the hilarity that is “illegal” street races in a game where driving through speed cameras as quickly as possible is considered a good thing. Nor am I going to complain about the lack of music selection in both tracks and stations, as you can always import some tunes onto your Xbox if it really gets to you. It’s simply that Forza Horizon fails to bring anything new to the table. Unless you count Kinect controlled GPS, which works a treat by the way.
As you play Forza Horizon you get the feeling you have done it before. The festival setup feels very Motorstorm, the popularity system is directly lifted from PGR, and the open world rings of Test Drive Unlimited. It’s true that Forza Horizon takes pieces from all these games and creates a better experience than any of them, but it still lacks punch.
It’s a very strange feeling playing a game that is excellent on every level, but fails to entertain at the same time. If you haven’t played any of the above mentioned games, you owe it to yourself to pick up Forza Horizon. With the adjustable assistance settings, it’s a wonderful place for players new to the genre to get involved too. It’s less advertised, but the ability to reverse time and avoid making mistakes is still available, making it even more alluring to players who suck at racing games on a regular basis. It was actually thanks to this feature in Forza 4 that I became better at racing games.
If you have played titles like TDU, Gran Turismo, PGR, and even previous Forza titles, you may find yourself confusingly underwhelmed, despite the quality gameplay.
This game was provided by the publisher on Xbox 360 for review purposes. The game was played for roughly 15 hours and was not completed. Around 13 hours were spend playing the single player game and 2 hours spend on the multiplayer.