Forza Horizon Review

Different Team, Different approach but the same adrenaline pumping fun.

I’ve always wanted to attend an auto festival like the SEMA show in the US and the Tokyo Motor Show in Japan but living in a country that is notorious for costing an arm and a leg just to own an automobile, that dream is nearly impossible. So when i first saw Forza Horizon’s premise of being based around a fictitious auto festival called the “Horizon Festival”, I was naturally excited. For those who did not follow the development of this game, Forza Horizon is developed by a British games studio named “Playground Games” which consist of veteran developers from studios such as Project Gotham Racing’s Bizarre creations and Criterion Games who are responsible for the Burnout series.

Forza Horizon breaks the mold of a clean and sterile gameplay environment of the numbered Forza games by setting it in a fictitious music/car festival called the Horizon Festival, set in Colorado, USA. No longer will you be navigating menu after menu just to get to a race, instead you would now drive to the starting point in a beautifully created open world based on Colorado. Keeping to the Forza Lineage, the insane number of race types is diverse enough to keep things fresh and entertaining(heck you can even race against a biplane), one moment you could be drifting down the beautiful Colorado Canyons and before you know it you are racing in a suburban neighborhood. The game tracks your progression within the game using “Wristbands” which is a glorified level system. Each race you win would earn you driver points which would count towards your progression to a different colored Wristband which will in turn open up more races and events. Winning races would also net you creds which is the currency of Forza Horizon, more experienced players can challenge themselves but switching off the myriad of assists in exchange for bonus creds for completing the race. The “Boss” of each wristband color would join you during races, smoke him/her and you’d net yourself some extra cred.

Despite all these gameplay changes and tweaks, the heart of any Forza game is still cars. From the legendary Nissan GTR to a humble Mini Cooper, the insane number of cars featured here would satisfy even the most hardcore of car enthusiasts. Each car is broken down into different classes based on their performance and all races are class specific (though some would also require other specific criteria such as chassis), the system works well in encouraging you to try out a variety of different cars instead of sticking to a single car for all your races. Most cars tend to handle differently from one another so players would have to adapt to the different handling characteristics of each car. With that said, bringing the correct car to the correct race is crucial in smoking the competition; sure a American classic muscle car would leave the competition in the dust but it would crash and burn in the tight corners of the Colorado suburban neighborhood.

Veterans of the previous numbered Forza games should be relieved to find out that customization is still the name of the game. Every single vehicle in Horizon can be customized to your heart’s desire, everything from custom body kits to entire engine swaps can be done in the garage. Racing purists would be saddened to know that in-depth tweaking of your car has been removed in place of a more streamlined system to avoid overwhelming the novice modders. Each upgrade you give to your car would count towards your Performance score which would dictate which class it belongs to.

Sticking to the premise of being in a music/car festival, Forza Horizon’s radio stations features a myriad of artist and bands of different genres ranging from Lost Prophets to Skrillex. All songs included in the game are divided into 3 different music stations, each with their own personality and style; Horizon Rock would keep your head banging with its repertoire of rock hits.

Overall, Forza Horizon is an excellent game which draws elements from the previous Forza games but Playground Games is still able to inject some new innovations into the Forza DNA to keep things interesting.

Ratings: 4 out of 5 stars

by Chen KangYi
© POPCulture Online 2012, All Rights Reserved.

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