Forza Horizon attempts to inject some fun into the racing genre by way of a festival atmosphere in Colorado. Instead of just racing around stale race tracks and roads you’re now put into a story in the single player campaign as a nobody entering the Horizon festival in position 250 trying to make their way to number one. You’ll do this by exploring the state, entering races and challenges and being a generally skilful driver as you buy better cars and win them from a number of colourful rivals.
Developer Playground have taken the incredible physics and car models from Turn 10’s development period for Forza and really come up trumps with this one and it’s easy to see that the environment and setting here is just as much the star as the racing. The scenery is simply stunning as you race between towns and drift through the city streets and the soundtrack also adds to the atmosphere with three radio stations to tune between or turn off if you prefer just the sound of your roaring engine.
There are tonnes of licensed cars in there all with different classes which can be upgraded or downgraded for each event and whatever your skill level you can tweak the realism and difficulty of AI drivers to fit your playstyle so things shouldn’t ever get too frustrating.
You’ll also be constantly rewarded for everything you do. Drifting, near misses, drafting, driving on two wheels or finding air all add points to your rank and you can chain these together to make combos for even more points. You’re also encouraged to set the fastest times through speed traps and speed zones where you’ll instantly be compared with your friends. You can even challenge other players’ times when you’ve finished a single player race to earn more credits and get those all-important bragging rights.
You can also take the racing online in multiplayer mode but at the time of writing, no-one’s online so I can’t comment, suffice to say if it plays anything like single player mode it can only be a welcome addition.
Forza Horizon is one of the best racing games I’ve played for a long time. It may look like it’s trying a little bit too hard to be hip at the surface but the handling and race events including a highlight near the beginning of the game where you race a Mustang aeroplane to the checkpoints will keep you coming back for more time and time again. It gets 9 out of 10.
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