October 31, 2012

Pedal to the Metal

Lasting First Impressions of Forza Horizon

Developed by Playground Games & Turn 10 Studios  |  Published by Microsoft Studios

Forza Horizon Box Art» If you were to take all racing game fans and ask them their preferred type of racing game, you would find there are two camps and each would vehemently defend their preference.  First you’ll find the group of racers who love the simulation, who want to feel like they’re actually racing in the vehicles they could never afford in real life. These are the Forza Motorsport and the Gran Turismo crowd; the ones who want to feel the thrill of the circuit race in the most expensive cars on the planet.  Then there are those who love the arcade racers. These are the Need for Speed and the Burnout crowd; the racers who just want to drive as fast as they can through the open city streets narrowly missing traffic as they careen through the night deftly escaping the pursuit of the cops and winning the battle for supremacy of the streets.  And never the twain shall meet.

Enter Forza Horizon, the game with which Playground Game and Turn 10 Studios hopes to put an end to that thinking and merge both of these camps together in a way that will bring the realism of the simulation drive to the fun of the arcade racer. The developers of Forza Horizon want to remove distinction between “Simulation” and “Arcade” racers and just concentrate on making a good racer. Period. In this arcade racers’s personal opinion, I think they’ve certainly done just that.


Welcome to the Horizon festival, glad you made it.  Now feel free to wander the roads of Colorado in search of the many events we have for you. Win enough of them and increase your rep on the streets and you may even get the chance to steal the crown from three time champion, Darius Flint.  This is the basic story around Forza Horizon in what I feel is the perfect blend of Forza Motorsport’s incredible simuation driving with the open world driving experience found in Test Drive Unlimited, with a dab of Need For Speed and Burnout thrown in.  Forza Horizon is truly the racing game for all manner of racing fans.

The game, as I’m sure you can imagine, is absolutely gorgeous. Every car looks photorealistic and the environments are beautiful. Time passes in the game as the sun rises and sets every day basking the landscape in either the bright light of the sun or the eerie darkness of the moon.  In any case, you will be hard-pressed not to stop pushing the pedal to the medal just to enjoy the view surrounding you.


But what is a racing game without the sense of speed? Forza Horizon has plenty of speed right from the very start. Every race feels fast and furious and instills a real rush of adrenaline as you pass each car and vie for the first place spot.  Win a race, and you may even be given the chance to beat your friends best time on that race. That is where things get really interesting and the heart truly begins to pump. Forza Horizon saves a ghost car of your friend’s best times and allows you to attemp to beat them. It’s the next best thing to actually racing them in real time in the multiplayer portion of the game.  Additionally, you can challenge your friends in any of the many speed zones throughout the Colorado roads proving who is the fastest driver out there.

Plenty of different events litter the landscape of Colorado during  this Horizon tournament as you climb the racing ladder on your way to the top. Some of the most memorable of these events are the ones that pit you against vehicles such as airplanes, hot-air balloons, and helicopters. This may sound crazy but these are truly fun to play.  As you race against any number of opponents, including the in-game personalities, of whom you can challenge to a race anytime by driving up behind them and pressing the X-button (Xbox360), you also build up your popularity with the crowds by performing Burnout-like maneuvers. Maneuvers such as near misses with an oncoming or passing vehicle, exceeding a certain speed for a length of time, performing perfect drifts, achieving airtime, and more.  These reputation increases occur anytime you are driving, even outside of races.

ForzaHorizon_PGVisit_noWM_12Forza Horizon has truly blended the open-world mechanics of an arcade racer with the simulation experience of its father franchise to great success. This game contains both open street races, as well as circuit races so it is sure to please the racers from both sides of the fence.  I am not a fan of circuit racing so I’ve never really enjoyed the greatness of the Forza Motorsport franchise, but Forza Horizon gives me that greatness in the package that I enjoy.  Turn 10 Studios knows cars and loves driving. Creating a second franchise within the Forza family was a smart move on their part.  It is a new title that can live alongside the Forza Motorsport titles as its own new series and one that successfully removes “simulation” and “arcade” words from our vocabulary to allows us all to play together nicely.

Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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