Forza has become a bit of an Xbox classic, I still remember being blown away playing the first installment and thinking Gran Turismo on the PlayStation finally had a contender for its crown as the best racing game around; the graphics were stunning and the mechanics in the game made it feel like one of the most realistic driving games around at the time. Well it is back, and with a whole different spin from what you’re used to as the guys at Playground Games modifies the games image to try and plug the gap between realistic driving games and those fun filled arcade style racing games. How do they do this I hear you ask? Well by taking you on an adrenaline filled adventure to the Forza Horizons festival where you’ll mix loud music with even louder cars. Think of it as a mix of Forza’s great game mechanics, the open world of the Need for Speed games allowing you to explore the roads freely and a little dash of burnout for being all about the music, speed and being extreme.
As you can guess with most racing games there isn’t really a massive story line to stick to, but one does exist. You are a just an average Joe Bloggs attending the festival in your pimped out Volks Wagon when a message over the radio offering places in the qualifying heats of the tournament grabs everyone’s attention. You hop in your ride and beat off the competition to claim yourself a starting spot where you’ll meet the festivals organisers. From here on in it’s all about winning races and building up your rep to get to the bigger events unlocked and becoming number one; but don’t expect to just be racing other cars…
That’s right, Horizon is unlike any Forza you’ve known before; you now take part in special challenges that earn you great rewards. The first that you’ll come across as an example is a checkpoint race; you’ll be in a lovely Ford Mustang which you get to keep for completing, and you’ll be facing off another against another Mustang…in the form of an Airplane. I know, Forza just got extreme and it’s absolutely mind blowing, it finally feels more game like than being a driving simulator and it isn’t just racing planes that see’s the game evolve from its classic roots. With the emphasis of the festival being all about fast cars and loud music, you’re encouraged to entertain festival goers by doing various feats. These include stunts like driving as fast as you can past speed cameras (another aspect taken from Need for Speed) and pulling handbrake turns to power-slide round corners and narrowly miss traffic on the road. For this you’ll collect points which unlock new challenges on the map (a little like the way you would build up Boost on burnout for the very same stunts).
So I’m guessing you’re wondering with changes to the game, has anything been sacrificed in order to allow Playground Games to put their stamp on it. Well no not really, I mean yes the game has a different feel, but one that I believe makes the game feel more fun. You still have the glossy style that you’d expect from Forza with stunning looking cars lining the race tracks, and you still have a good selection of cars to choose from with more car packs coming out all the time which can be downloaded from the XBOX Live Marketplace. However you don’t get as many cars as you would in the actual Forza games and there isn’t as much customisation in terms of tuning your cars so that may unsettle a couple of Forza fans.
One feature that is pretty cool and new to the franchise is the capability to rewind, so if you go round a corner a little too fast and maybe break a little too late, all you have to do is rewind to correct your mistakes. This is more a feature for novices who aren’t used to the style of racing and can be disabled in the options for those who don’t wish to use this little cheat, and you’ll be rewarded for not using it as well by increasing the percentage bonus of your race winnings. I would think though that a system where you get a limited distance to rewind back to and limited times you could rewind back. But like I say the game is better without this, and better without all assists as it grants you bigger rewards and makes the game feel more realistic as you have to judge yourself when to break and accelerate taking into consideration the weight of the car so you don’t lose control and spin out.
As I’ve already mentioned as well, the game has a new focus on music with some of the latest tunes coming out of your car radio (kind of like Crash FM in the Burnout games), however some of the music is well rubbish. But that’s just my opinion. To cater to this you can switch radio channels to something that suits your taste a little more whether it be Rock or Dance, or alternatively just put it on mute and stick your own music on cause you aren’t missing much apart from the occasional chatter which aims to help keep together the feel that there is a storyline to follow. The best bit about Forza though isn’t the music or the storyline, it is what is best about any game that you can play online, the ability to show off to your friends as you challenge them to take you on only to make them eat your dust as you race off into the distance to claim that number one spot. Then when you’re done with your mates you can challenge the rest of the world and try to reach number one on global leader boards.
Anyway that about sums up the little spin off from the Forza series, and I will promise you that this game will not disappoint. Overall it delivers on all levels in my opinion; good music, good cars and a good sense of enjoyment as you drive round in the Colorado sunshine racing opponents. The best bit for me personally is racing friends online, the worst bits and one I dislike about all Forza games is that if you want a decent sized car selection you have to dish out and pay for the extras. Luckily I’m not a car nut and therefore can cope with not having the latest models on my Xbox, as long as my car gets me from A to B faster than anyone else I’m happy.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.