Earlier this month, I was given the opportunity to play Forza Horizon, the latest offering from Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios. Forza games have strictly been about motorsport and taken place on race circuits, but with Forza Horizon it’s time to take racers to the open road. This is a bold change for the franchise but one that could bring both fans of games and cars together.
Set in the state of Colorado during a racing festival, the local radio station is buzzing with news of an up and coming tournament that only has space for two hundred and fifty participants. As a local racer keen to show off your stuff you must make it to the festival grounds before all the spaces have been filled and so the race is on!
After a short race to the grounds, you’re welcomed to the competition and told to start proving yourself by gaining fans across the state of Colorado. You can gain fans by participating in a variety of different race events such as regular races, showcase events and challenges. These events are all over your map and you can set a route using your GPS. While this is a common feature in games involving driving, a nice touch is the addition of a Kinect feature that allows you to simply shout out where you would like to go and a GPS route is set on your map.
Forza fans will be happy to hear that the physics and actual driving is virtually untouched from the motorsport games. While some may find it weird to be playing an open-world action racing game with simulation style racing, from the brief time I had with Forza Horizon, I can assure you it fits in nicely and definitely sets it apart from the other open-world racers.
The selection of cars in Forza Horizon is vast, and you can expect to see most of your favourites in the roster of vehicles. In most racing games you progress through cars one by one and leave the less powerful ones behind for the next boost in power, Forza Horizon however gives you the chance to keep your favourite car, regardless of its power, by upgrading it or taking place in events that are suitable for your chosen vehicle.
As stated above there are a variety of events, but the most notable ones have to be showcase events, which are unlike any events you have ever done before. If you thought racing cars proved difficult at times, wait until you get yourself into a race with a plane or helicopter. These races are super exciting and really test your ability to control your car at high speeds and usually take place on treacherous cliff edges. You’ll be racing on all types of terrain, from your nicely paved highways to the dusty back roads of the desert. Taking a nasty turn on these roads or smashing into other cars can be remedied by hitting the rewind button, which takes you back a few seconds so you don’t have to be a flawless driver throughout.
Colorado has been beautifully recreated and you’ll find yourself going from all manner of terrain, which really helps keep the racing feel fresh. Added to this is the implementation of a day/night cycle that really impacts the world, and there are also a lot of nice features and details added such as working farms, hot air balloons and, of course, your regular drivers are also using the roads for their own needs.
For those of you who like classic cars, you can go on the hunt for a number of barns which house abandoned cars, but you’ll have to pay close attention to the local radio station for hints on where these may be. The radio station has a decent selection of songs that is mostly made of current music and will keep you entertained on those long drives across the state.
Although there wasn’t a chance to get hands-on with the multiplayer side of Forza Horizon, I was told that there is planned DLC that will be coming out monthly as well as some hefty expansion packs that will come out over a longer period of time. There will be a variety of different game modes that were found in the previous Forza games, such as cat and mouse, which really takes advantage of the open world. Of course there will be your typical races to compete in as well as leaderboards for bragging rights. You can also make your friends rivals and challenge them to different events and races for bonus rewards.
Forza Horizon is looking to be a fantastic game and one that both motorsport and street racing fans can sink their teeth into. With a huge world, massive collection of cars, both current and classic, and enough events to last you for a considerable amount of time both in single player and multiplayer, this looks like one to pick up and should cover your racing needs for quite some time!