While the previous Forza games were Microsoft’s answer to Sony’s real driving simulation game Gran Turismo this new entry into the series is something more akin to the Gumball 3000 Rally. Gone is the now tiresome series of championship races around virtual real world circuits and in its place lies miles of open road. Developed by newcomers ‘Playground Games’ in partnership with series creators ‘Turn 10’ this latest game is a spinoff in the much loved series keeping its hallmarks such as the physics system and the impressive number of cars and injecting a large does of adrenaline.
The setting for the game is the state of Colorado and the Forza Horizon Festival, a mecca for driving enthusiasts set amongst some of the world’s most breathtaking driving scenery. The festival setting may be the work of fiction but the development team have certainly captured a breathtakingly believable Colorado complete with epic sunsets, miles of mountainside views and some of the best virtual roads in any driving game yet.
The festival event itself, described as “where competition meets culture”, sees racing events take place in a host of varies classes. From point to point races across dusty trails to high speed laps of circuit courses. The racing is excellent and will be familiar to fans of the previous games although it’s been made more forgiving to accommodate a faster and more furious driving style. While the racing is excellent some fans may feel alienated by the new ‘hip‘ tone the game is aiming for but even if the presentation and music isn’t to everyones tastes it’s easy to forget when you’re power-sliding past rivals at speed or as you take your favorite car for a spin through the gorgeous looking backdrops of the games virtual Colorado. In any case the in game radio can be turned off if the music isn’t your thing.
Technically the game is excellent and a welcome change in a time when so many games seemingly get released in an unfinished state. It ranks amongst the best looking games on any system and there is never a drop in performance no matter how intense the on screen action. Various online challenges, multiplayer modes, and competitive time trials round off an excellent package and racing fans will have plenty to keep them happy.
Forza Horizon then is not just one of the best racing games this year but one of the best games this year. As the developers themselves stated they set out to create your own personal automotive playground, and that’s exactly what they’ve done.