The light from the sunset is blinding as I follow the soft turn on the road, and an enjoyable view of the Red Rocks appears. I quickly get thrown out of the moment when another driver aggressively overtake me and pull in front of me and wants me to race.
It looks like an amazing team has been gathered, and every racing enthusiast will sit drooling and daydreaming when they realise that Forza Horizon is a fantastic mix of Blur (handling and look), McRae (lots of gravel roads and tight turns), and TOCA Race Driver/GRID (fun modes). Playground games was formed in 2009, and was able to get a big gig as their first. Don’t worry, Turn 10 is in on the deal, so it still feels like a Forza game.
Just three minutes in, and I’m blown away. Within the first heat I had spun out, destroyed a fence, almost jumped over an edge into the oblivion, scratched an ongoing car giving the poor civilian a heart attack, as my opponent was about as far from their paint on the other side, and ripped off my rear wing. I’m hooked.
What I love the most in this game is the point A to B experiences in my own pace. I love just driving around, looking at the environment and listening to the radio, though not without a goal. Looking for the barnfinds (9 in all) is the most cosy thing in this game – and each find gives you a car too.
Most racing games music gets to me, on a level that can be unspeakable sometimes (I’m not a fan of trance, dance, techno and what have you) but Forza Horizon have a huge library of songs and only a few that annoys me – luckily I can change the radio channel, just like in GTA IV, with the left and right directional button. One of the best details about the game I might add as I can keep playing the game and listening to the music, without being forced to sit through songs that hurt my ears.
When you get to the point in the game where you should upgrade your available cars, the game tells you as you start a race that could be hard to beat in your current car. It then lists the recommended upgrades along with a price tag, but you still get the option to customise what to upgrade, and you can even reject the recommendation. This makes it both easy and fast for the players who just want to race, but at the same time lets the enthusiasts do what they like in the costumisation.
The game has a nice way of showing progress, opening up cars, acquiring bands, and a map showing where you’ve been driving on the roads, also mapping out the collectibles you’ve been driving by and haven’t collected yet.
Each outpost have three challenges for you to beat, one speed trap challenge (drive to the speed trap, beat the given speed) a photo shoot (drive to the given spot, jump into photo mode and take a shot of the car with the stated sight in the background) and a stunt challenge. The last one here is the hardest one to beat, as you have a given amount of time, a route to follow and you have to make enough stunt points to beat the given score. The good thing about this, once you’ve beaten all three challenges, you can fast travel to that outpost for free. Definitely a good incentive to get started on those early on in the game.
Getting popular is key
The more popular you get by the crowd, the more challenges and races will open up to you, though some races will also unlock new races. There’s races head to head, star (boss) races and show races, so far I’ve raced against a plane and a hot air balloon – some other show races consists of a time trial as well.
Collectibles is made of smashing the sale-signs, 100 in all, each giving you a 1% off all car upgrades – those is also my first priority, as it will make it easier for me to beat the the game in the long run and not worry about expenses on upgrades. The map is even showing you which roads you’ve been driving on, and mark the signs you’ve seen as well – making the collectible job much easier. Barnfinds is a little more remote to the rest of the game, but a neat little detail – you get a call from your female friend that handed you the papers in the beginning of the game, telling you the whereabouts of a barnfind which is an old and busted out car left in a barn somewhere. finders keepers.
Not really open world enough
I’m a little let down by the fact that the game isn’t entirely open world. You have a network of streets and a bunch of smaller areas where you can drive, but the amazing magical invisible walls will prevent you from accessing large chunks of the map. I haven’t had the opportunity to try out the online part of the game, but looking at previous Forza games, I don’t think I will be too let down. I’ve literally been blown away by this game and i have a hard time leave the game be so that I can sleep and do other (boring) everyday stuff such as eating and cleaning.
Miss; The environment aren’t as open as you would think – the roads and a few open spaces is accessible but that’s about it. Also you meet other drivers while free roaming, and you can engage in a road race which is fine, but winning the car from them like in Burnout Paradise would have added a little more to the experience.
Need; Even more varying single player races and modes could be adding a lot to the game.