Game Reviewed: Forza Horizon
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Developer: Playground Games
Publisher: Turn 10/Microsoft Studios
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360]
Rated: T for Teen
Forza Motorsport is back on the tracks, but not in the same lane as you may expect. Playground Games, comprised of some serious motor head developers from Codemasters, Bizarre Creations, Black Rock Studios – among others, combined with the creative minds at Turn 10 to redefine the racing scene.
Forza is, hands down, the most respected racing game on its console. You have to wonder why Forza Horizon isn’t Forza Motorsport 5. Well, as it turns out, there plenty of reasons why. A lot of the changes in the game can be blamed, but you’d be surprised how little it affects the overall game experience.
Forza Horizon brings the best of racing to Colorado for a special event known as the Horizon Festival. It’s the best of both worlds for Music and jaw dropping cars and events. It takes the party through the open road and exploring more than Dora herself!
DJ Scott Tyler informs inspired drivers that Alice Hart is holding 10 slots for its an upcoming event, but not before you end up chasing down Darius Flynt in a 2013 Viper GTS. It plays as a glimpse of what you can achieve before knocking you back to reality and your ’95 Volkswagen Corrado VR6.
If you’re following along so far, yes Forza has a full-blown story! Welcome to Horizon, more specifically, the Horizon Heats. It’s a huge event to crown this year’s Horizon’s Champion through a series of races, but it’s not without earning your way to the top by winning and acquiring proper wristbands for clearance.
The key area is the festival as it is your hub to find races, buy or upgrade vehicles at the Autoshow, enter clubs and more. But there aren’t just simply car races as soon you’ll find yourself racing to checkpoints against a plane.
You’ll immediately notice the feel of each vehicle when driving, as all cars have their own, unique feel. As you begin traveling the open world to destinations, you’ll begin to find your driving preference. You can literally tweak the road to guide you with the Forza “green line,” or with accelerations and turns by making specific difficulty adjustments.
While on the subject of open world, to some players it may be a blessing or a curse. When you need to get to an event, you’ll need to drive all the way there. There aren’t any shortcuts, cutscenes. There’s no teleporting your way to the starting point either. Instead you will take that drive, regardless of the distance and sign up for that race.
I’ll begin with this being a curse, as some gamers may become a frustrated making that long drive around Colorado. If the events were blocks apart, it’d be worth the drive. However, when you’re asked to participate in something that feels like the opposite end if the city, mentally the game loses that triple-A feeling.
Then again, it’s open world. It’s an investment well worth when making that drive across the city. Playground Games created, by far, the most authentic city build for ANY racing game to date. While making your way throughout Colorado, you’ll run into Clifton Valley; full of hot air balloons filling the skies, Clear Springs Lake, Redfoot Ranch or even the Rocky Mountains. There’s way more to discover to make the drive well worth it.
When trying to find your way, your map will guide you. If you have your Kinect enabled, simply saying “GPS” will route you wherever it is you’d wish to venture. If it’s your next event, simply saying “GPS, Next Event” will direct you.
Festival events can be accessed pretty easy, given you have the wristband color to participate. You also need to have the right car to run the race. There are also Outposts and Street Races to entertain and build your adrenaline. But it all matters when you partake in Star Showdowns, allowing you to race against top drivers at the festival.
These races are most rewarding as beating stars, awards you their cars.
The heart and longevity of Forza Horizon all lies within the multiplayer. Allow me to get out the way, now that multiplayer is where all the fun truly begins. Free Roaming Colorado is so much fun, especially when you can invite up to seven additional friends to enjoy it with you.
Plenty of custom games and classic playground games, such as Cat & Mouse and Tag (Virus), are just as exciting as they were when originally presented in Forza Motorsport 4. Also if you choose, you can join with a friend instead of playing against them in Co-op Challenges.
Forza never had a problem with visually giving gamers an authentic feel to coincide with the racing experience. In fact, it’s much better here in Horizon. Racing in the evening with the spectacular fireworks exploding from the festival, was the most detailed racing experience I’ve ever seen.
The only setback with the multiplayer would be the mechanical errors. As you smash into other vehicles or objects in multiplayer, you see the impact (and occasionally parts fly off) but the car itself takes no damage. It’s a small issue to point fingers at, nor does it affect Horizon’s overall presentation.
Forza Horizon is a well packaged addition to the Forza Series. Racing never felt so good under the authentic feel of car and race. There’s no nitro or cops, just a festival where people came to do what they enjoy most, embracing the competition. I dare say, it’s what every racing game should be!
Overall Rating: 4.5/5