Posted on October 31, 2012 AT 08:27am
After playing Forza Horizon for the first few hours, there was one thing that immediately came to my mind: this racing franchise is clearly the best in simulation racing games – there is no argument. At this point in time there is no contest. Moving away from the traditional and linear gameplay that made Forza Motorsport 4 so successful, Turn 10 Studios decided to take Forza to the road giving the game an open world feel. The result? A racing game that feels a lot like Burnout Paradise but plays like any other Forza racing game.
Forza Horizon takes place in the state of Colorado during the Horizon Festival. The festival is basically a huge party where street racers from all around gather and show off their skills. This gives the game a very hip and upbeat feel for the duration of play.
So let’s get down to it – if you’re picking up Forza Horizon one of the things you’ll want to know about is how does it play right? Cars drive exactly how you would expect them to, and perform just as they would in any other Forza racing game.En route to a race however can get unique and very fun. The game has an open world feel as you drive to each race way-point using your GPS. Upon setting your route and driving to your intended destination, you’ll find yourself intrigued by other racers on the road that you can race if you choose, or if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself working for stunt points as you play. This includes but is not limited to near missing oncoming traffic, drifting, or drafting other racers. These stunt points can be chained together to gain multiple points and help you move your way up the popularity ladder and get noticed. But once at your destination, you will find the familiarities that is Forza – making sure your car meets the required racing specifications, followed by hitting the road for a race!
The object of the game is to move up the rank with wristbands. The more races you win/participate in, the more points you earn to gain the next level or in this case, wristbands. The wristband is your ticket to races all across Forza Horizon. As you move up the ranks, and win races, you’ll earn more points for the next wristband. The competition can get difficult as expected but the balance is leveled the more the vehicles you own are upgraded and match specs for races you’re involved in.
One of the signature cosmetic features in Forza is car damage. In Forza Motorsport 4, when your car was damaged you would see the performance of your car slowly deteriorate just as you would in reality. In Forza Horizon however, getting into an accident is very forgiving as performance is not yielded by how bad of a driver you are or can be in the game. Some people may see this as a negative if they’re looking for a real world experience but as you progress through the game and it becomes more difficult, most fans will see this as very welcoming.
Vehicles in Forza Horizon aren’t as abundant as Forza 4, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a nice selection to choose from. You’ll find a wide array of vehicles to choose from to show off or race with in qualifying races including the Scion FR-S, Subaru WRX, Ford Raptor, Hyundai Genesis, Acura Integra, Lamborghini’s, and Maserati’s just to name a few and not to mention the cars that can be added from your friends garage for test drive if you create a car club of your own. Even more cars can be added by checking out the marketplace to see what cars are being offered as well. If you’re somewhat of a car enthusiast like myself, you’ll find yourself checking out each car and seeing how they look in your favorite paint color. When you’re not window shopping and are looking to upgrade your current car in your garage, you can simply head on over to the upgrade garage where you’re greeted with familiar menu’s giving you the opportunity to upgrade your exhaust, intake manifold, engine, and more. And if that’s not enough, in traditional Forza fashion, you have the ability to slap on a body kit, decals, aftermarket rims, and custom paint. If you’re familiar with Forza, you already know that the combinations are endless when it comes to customizations of your vehicles. These customizations can be shared as well for another way to make more credits in the game too. In Forza Horizon, there’s always something to do with your cars.
In signature Forza style while you are racing you will see an abundance of things to look at whether it’s the crowd, fireworks going off at the Horizon Festival, or airplanes flying across the sky. Forza Horizon takes these views to the next level and includes them in the game in an innovative way in sponsor races. Once your popularity is high enough, you will be invited to sponsor races where you will find yourself racing against an airplane, and hot air balloons. I thought this was really unique and I have never seen anything like this in a racing game. It gives it a sort of style that only Forza can pull off.
With great success comes some flaws and while Forza Horizon doesn’t really have many flaws, there are a couple to keep in mind. One that I noticed right off the bat was game loads. Forza Horizon is a beautiful looking game. The graphics are simply superb. The cars are very detailed and there are no frame rate drops in the game. It has wonderful vistas and horizons (no pun intended) that you can stare at while you’re driving but it’s clear that these vistas and environments take time to load. There are many load sequences within the game that you’ll encounter that will leave you wanting more while you wait.
If you are looking for an open world type of simulation racing game, and a break from the traditional arcade racing game there is no doubt that your answer is Forza Horizon. This game has it all from racing hot air balloons, a variety of car customization, street racing, everything. However, if you did not enjoy open world racing games like Burnout Paradise, you will find yourself not caring for Forza Horizon as much as the traditional racing sim that is Forza Motorsport 4. But one thing is clear: Turn 10 in collaboration with Playground Games have done a phenomenal job of creating a new Forza racing genre for years to come and I hope that they keep both of these games separate from each other to satisfy the audience for all racing fans. Forza continues to reign at the top as the best simulation racing experience in any video game console. If you’re looking for top notch racing action with an open world, look no further than Forza Horizon.
The Good: Same Forza gameplay, same Forza customization, same Forza formula that works fantastically without noticeable flaws.
The Bad: Multiple game loads & if you aren’t accustomed with open world racing games, this game might not be your cup of tea.
The Ugly: Cars that you own in your Forza garage unfortunately won’t spawn in your real garage.
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