Forza Horizon is the direct result of what you get when you put an elite group of racing developers, who practically bleed gasoline and make a game for every kind of car enthusiast. It’s the perfect blend of great looking cars, customization options and a giant open world playground to tie it all together. Lending mostly from all kinds of other racing games but in the best way possible.
The game surrounds it’s narrative around a car festival which has taken over the Colorado countryside. Like any other racer your no big shot and simply trying to get your name out there by starting at the bottom. Rising until your champion. A good thing to note is that this format offers more then menus and single races like Forza 4 but driving to locations for races. The narrative also doesn’t come off as cheesy, giving it just enough to tie the entire event together.
The racing types you end up with here are of the highest variety. Point to Point, circuit, winner takes all and pink slips are some of the few familiar events but you also get to experience racing against other mobile units. This really gives you a sense of all the highs and lows upon speed that can be accomplished with a single car on the open road. Street racing can also be had while on your way to a race or even driving around as the roads are filled with other AI racers getting around. You gain experience throughout the races and earn wrist bands to enter more profile ones as you get ahead.
In a lot of ways this game retains some of Forza 4’s best eye candy nature but easily benefits from its altered scenario and location. The cars look just as good in the showroom and almost as good on the road as Forza 4. Everything in the dashboards of your vehicle work, auto daytime running lights, all animating as it should. Looking at the interior of a 13′ Genesis Coupe as I own one myself never looked so spot on and the Real time night to day transitioning brings the cars to life.
Engines roar, tires screeching, fans going wild. Easily one of the best sounding car games lending that form factor from Forza 4 the sounds never get old and sound great mixed into one. The music was also great to me. A mix of everything across the three radio stations although if you didn’t know fully what dub step was, you’ll know now. I enjoyed all of it but since the genres of music were separated onto three stations being Horizon Rock, Pulse and Bass Arena it definitely got tiresome. One radio station for a mixed playlist would have been great to have.
The guys at Playground games have thrown around a word they like to call Forza DNA. essentially the essence that is Forza ties all their games together. If your a Forza 4 player then everything should feel all to familiar with most racing options intact. I can tell you that my decked out Ford Fusion with a Shebly engine felt just like it did before. If you like your game more arcade then the driving aids provided can easily take it there, if more simulation the turn off what you feel works best. Car customization is also no slouch as I got all the upgrades I need while also including Forza amazing vinyl creation system. You can easily import a set vinyl group from Forza 4, which could have also come from Forza 3 as that’s when groups started. There’s something about designing on your car for this game and the open road that feels more natural.
It’s hard not to get into the multiplayer aspect at this point as that as well has a lot to offer. This is where you can create a car club and race types. The game types include your usual batch from the single player along with a slew of new events. Cat and Mouse which lets teams of a fast car and a slow car try to get in first place by any means necessary. Infected which starts off as one person being infected and having to go after other cars until every car infected at the end. King which starts off as one person having a flag and trying to hold on to it as long as they can until someone catches them. This is all there with the addition of having free roam which allows you to mess around with others on the entire map along while doing challenges that require a set amount of other players to accomplish.
Forza Horizon isn’t without some issues which may be worth noting. While the AI with certainly present a challenge sometimes it has been noted that certain event which stock vehicles of a certain car restriction in fact has had computer character have a turbo in the car making him far superior in a race.
It has been a long time since I’ve seen a game of this nature have an actual replay mode and is certainly welcomed but it is strange that the two good standard camera angles are missing which are the “Fly By” and “On Track” camera angles. This is worth mentioning as all the camera angles here and when making your own movie are glued to the camera in shaky cam fashion which after awhile can make you dizzy. Traffic is eliminated when playing online in any fashion which could have presented some great turn around races and stories. We are slightly disappointed that their is no actual team racing other then cat n mouse and considering their are car clubs it just seems a bit strange. True customization is out as well only leaving you the parts in which to play with which might make some unhappy.
Forza Horizon is not a full arcade racer giving you options that are just out of that realm, it is also not a full sim as options like tuning your gear ratios is out. What I can say is that it makes a very satisfying blend of the full car experience which anyone can appreciate. It has the presentation style of Dirt, the open roads of Test Drive, the graphics/look of Forza and overall high adrenaline of Need for Speed. It also makes me excited for the future of what Playground Games can present. It’s not the easiest thing to breakdown what Forza Horizon’s true genre is and quite frankly I don’t care, all I can say is that I’ve been waiting for a game like this for a long time.