Gameplay: 9.5 / 10
Graphics: 9 / 10
Replay Value: 9 / 10
Sound and Music: 9 / 10
Car racers fit into two camps – simulation or arcade. Since its inception, The Xbox exclusive Forza series has always been a game focused on creating a great simulation experience, offering the most realistic racer possible. Horizon, a spin-off from the series and the most ambitious entry to date, leaves behind familiar territory in favour of an open world story-based campaign, much in the same vein as Need for Speed. But fans can rest easy, while the new title does sacrifice real-world racing circuits, the driving physics remain intact and the game succeeds as yet another great title from Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios. If you love racing games, this title is essential.
The word “forza” is Italian for “force”; a perfected suited description for the world’s best racing game. Similar to Motorstorm, Forza Horizon is set around a fictional music festival called the Horizon Festival in the heart of the beautiful Colorado countryside. With plenty of tasks to perform, from winning different types of races and rallies, entering sponsor challenges, completing missions to find hidden vintage cars, and blasting past speed cameras, Forza has never been more fun.
As the new driver on the block, you need to work your way up, earning points by winning races and challenges. The real currency, however, is fame. Gamers are assigned the difficult task of earning celebrity status for the character. This is achieved by obtaining wrist bands for destroying property and driving at high speeds. The higher your popularity, the more access to advanced races and events in this enormous open-world environment.
When it comes to vehicle physics and handling, Horizon equals the success of its predecessor, the highly praised Forza 4, with tight and responsive controls. Each and every vehicle is customized to its own unique drive and feel. But where the previous titles were less forgiving, Horizon allows gamers to adjust the AI difficulty. This frees up more casual gamers of different skill levels to take part in the fun as well. And with approximately 150 cars available, each one customizable, and a whole lot more for download, there is more than enough to keep fans excited. Different upgrades have a noticeable impact on handling and acceleration of the vehicle, a feature that will undoubtedly appeal to the more serious racers.
The world of Forza Horizon is beautifully crafted with stunning visuals, amazing well-rendered landscapes and (almost) photorealistic cars that are immaculately detailed. Taking a cruise around the countryside is as rewarding as taking part in the races. As the sun goes down the skies light up in bright yellows and oranges until they finally fade to black – the perfect backdrop for a cruise.
Enhancing the party atmosphere is the awesome Forza soundtrack. With three available stations (which feature rock, electronica and dubstep) to flip between, driving is always accompanied by great tunes in GTA style. The overall sound and foley of the vehicles, backgrounds and surroundings do more than enough to submerge you into the Horizon world.
To sum it all up, Forza Horizon is clearly not the conventional sequel. It was never meant to be. Instead it gives gamers the unique opportunity to race and cruise in some of the world’s classiest vehicles on and off the open road. It also gives gamers the freedom to put their engines up against planes, helicopters and the works. If that weren’t enough you could take your races online and participate in the huge multiplayer campaigns. Worst of all its all completely addictive.
The real question you’re asking is where you should spend your hard-earned money; Need for Speed Most Wanted or Forza Horizon? I’d scream both, but if you really have to choose aim for the latter.