Forza Horizon
Blox Score
9.0
User rate
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Global vote
9.0
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Release: 10.22.2012
Price: $ 59.99

Forza Horizon

Genres: Racing, Open world Producer: Playground Games, Turn 10 Studios
Pro
  • Varied and entertaining soundtrack
  • The cars feel great on the open road
  • Arcade and simulation well blended
  • Great difficulty scaling
Con
  • Online Free Roaming could use some tweaks
  • Minor texture issues

Forza Motorsport is a popular and critically acclaimed series of racing simulation video games developed by Turn 10 Studios and published by Microsoft Studios. Earlier this year, it was claimed that a new installment was in development for the series, and that it would be more of an open world spin-off, rather than another racing simulator. That title ultimately became what is Forza Horizon, and was said to be developed in collaboration with Playground Games. Turn 10 Studios themselves promised that this new spin-off would deliver thrilling and immersive experience that will have players hooked. Long-time fans of the series may have considered these promises difficult to deliver, considering the necessary sacrifices that would have to be made, to make Forza Horizon an open-world experience. Many of these fans may have believed that the game would ultimately bring about more bad than good to the franchise. However, these people would be happy to know how wrong they actually were.

For this installment, Turn 10 Studios decided to use Forza Motorsport 4’s graphics engine, which allows the game to deliver some very impressive visuals. To say that Horizon is pretty to look at is an understatement. What is even more impressive is how the team managed to do keep the visuals top-quality, despite it being the first installment to take place in an open world. As any good developer knows, though, it’s not enough to simply make a game look pretty, but it is also important to put effort into even the smallest of details, and that’s exactly what has been done here. The attention to detail in Horizon is simply staggering. For instance, when a vehicle brakes, players will notice the braking discs turning bright red. Even seeing something as basic as the movement of the driver’s arms when they’re shifting gears or turning the steering wheel can be satisfying. This is much appreciated, considering that it is very difficult to come across this level of focus and care, in other racing titles. Forza Horizon also delivers on some of the sharpest and most fluid of environments in a racing game. Something as simple as stopping to admire the luxurious forests, the breathtaking mountains and the never-ending plains is enjoyable.

All of this is complimented by the fact that Horizon’s environments do not feel lifeless or static. The player will indeed feel immersed into the game’s world. The engine is also capable of simulating the reactions and movements of a vehicle, whatever kind of landscape the player is driving on. Whether you’re driving a high-class speed demon or a propulsion car, your experience on the multiple types of roads provided will differ. The engine from Forza Motorsport 4 also focuses on the behavior of tires on vehicle, which has also been implemented into Horizon, and it certainly shows. The behavior of vehicle tires differs, depending on the type of surface the player may be driving on. As far as graphical flaws are concerned, Horizon has a few minor ones. Sometimes, some textures appear too pixilated, or the reflections in the side-view mirrors lack the detail that they should have. As stated earlier, these issues aren’t too severe, but they should be taken note of. In the long run, though, they shouldn’t hurt the overall experience.

As mentioned earlier, the game takes place in the state of Colorado. As a newcomer to the racing community, your goal is to set your mark in the Horizon 2012 Festival, and proclaim yourself amongst the most fearless of drivers. On your mission, you will be required to race well and race hard, for the competition will be fierce and your skills will be put to the test

 

The gameplay itself is very fierce and competitive. Players will be required to face and complete all sorts of challenges from across the entire state.

The controls are very intuitive and very easy to pick up on. Whether the player decides to play in the first-person or third-person perspective, racing is enjoyable and thrilling. Another interesting aspect is how the vehicle being operated will react differently, depending on what kind of a vehicle it is. For example, if a player chooses a Japanese tuner, they will notice that the vehicle in question will react differently than the other cars. Furthermore, an American muscle car will not handle the harsh roads the same way as a Japanese vehicle. That being said, it’s interesting to see how Turn 10 Studios and Playground Games took these sorts of aspects into consideration. The amount of effort being put into these sorts of aspects really helps identify Horizon as this near-perfect blend between an arcade game and a racing simulator.

 

 

As far as music goes, Forza Horizon’s track selection is both jam-packed and diverse. It’s easy to notice that the track selection was carefully thought out, due to variety of genres the tracks comprises of. There are at least a few songs that should please just about everyone. They’re played through radio stations, which the player will have full access to, as they are driving. Also yes, there’s more than one radio station to listen to, so players can select the one that plays the music that they are most interested in. These stations play some of the more popular records of today, but also several indie hits, featuring the works of Skrillex, Friendly Fires, Arctic Monkeys and much more. If the player becomes tired of listening to the same kind of music over and over, the soundtrack should be diverse enough to consistently keep the experience fresh. What’s most impressive about the soundtrack is that, despite how much variety there is, all the tracks make great driving music, which in the end, is what’s most important for a soundtrack in a racing game.

Even if a game features a stellar soundtrack, sound effects should not be overlooked in a racing simulator, and even though Forza Horizon isn’t trying to be a full-on simulation, the sounds still manage to impress greatly. The sounds from the car engines are, digitally, as realistic as they can be. Whether it’s the deep and distinctive tones of the Subaru WRX STI’s "Boxter" engine, or the roar of a Lamborghini Aventadore’s V12 "Longitudinale Posteriore" engine, it’s always a delight to hear, especially the first time it happens. In addition, the diversified in-game cinematics are a welcome inclusion. Rather than feeling like a tacked-on feature, just for the sake of it being there, it really makes the campaign more interesting and enjoyable. The voice-over performances are decent enough, which certainly helps this aspect. It may not be some of the best seen or heard in a video game, but for a game in this genre, it’s quite impressive. In general, Forza Horizon’s audio aspects are not only great, but also appealing and consistent in every way.

Even though Forza Motorsport 4 was released only a year ago, and Horizon is considered a spin-off in the series, the game still has plenty to offer, in terms of content. As stated earlier, there are many challenges and side-challenges available, plenty of cars to choose from, and a massive online component. To top it all off, the overall difficulty is very well-balanced, providing the challenge which both newcomers and veterans can appreciate. Even if the player isn’t taking part in the challenges or the online component, Forza Horizon’s open world is massive, beautiful and just plain fun to explore. It’s so easy to get so much enjoyment out of simply driving around to your heart’s content. You know you made an open world properly when driving from place to place does not feel tedious.

The game is, by no means, perfect though, for there are a couple of drawbacks. In comparison to previous installments of the Forza series, the available tuning and visual modifications in Horizon are not as deep or developed as they could have been. Players can tune the general specs, which should be enough for the majority, but some long-time fans may a little disappointed. Furthermore, the game’s multiplayer mode is a different take than that of the other installments. It’s not bad, by any means. In fact, the multiplayer mode available offers a remarkable online experience. It’s just important for those who are used to the previous entries to be prepared for the change. Speaking of the multiplayer, some of the proposed competitive modes do remain true to the franchise’s name, such as the "King of the Hill" mode, which can take place on a golf course. This change of pace, in addition of the co-op challenge mode that has been incorporated, will give players more than simply racing on the streets.

Forza Horizon is fresh new racing title, and it certainly feels like it, too. It was developed by two very creative teams and handled with the utmost care. It features the perfect environmental setting for a well-balanced game, and as the proper blend between an arcade racing game and a simulator, it is set apart from other titles in its genre. The most important thing in the long run is that, Forza Horizon really gives itself its own identity, rather than feeling like "another typical racing game," and should not be overlooked, simply because it’s a spin-off entry. If you decide to pass up Horizon, you will really miss out.

Writer’s Blox:

There is a special place in my heart for this title. The online, in particular, I enjoyed a lot, because there is nothing I enjoy more in a racing title than being able to race against other players that may be better than me. It’s a racing game that reminds me why I love playing racing games in the first place. I admit that I’m a little disappointed that you cannot tune your own car, using highly-developed tools, specifically. However, the variety of music implemented, the wide selection of vehicles available, and the appealing visuals are what drove me to keep playing. Out of the many racing simulations I’ve played in my life, I’d have to say that the music used in Horizon is the most appealing. The fact that they’ve incorporated Electronic Dance Music (EDM) got my attention because, not only did it appeal to me, but I was impressed by the diversity of the tracks that were selected.

Editor comment

by Salim "Slimzz" Tannous, Imgmr XBOX Senior Writer Written on the 23rd of October, 2012