Forza Horizon 3 Review: Australian for Great
Ryan Bloom / Oct 25th, 2016 No Comments
Racing games have grown from the arcade staples of the past to the precise, realistic simulators of today. Playground Games — a team consisting of developers who have worked on everything from Burnout to Formula One — has managed to capture the spirit of both racing game styles in its previous two Forza Horizon titles. The third is no different.
As you barrel down a beachy stretch of Australia’s Gold Coast in the driver’s seat of a Lamborghini Centenario in Forza Horizon 3, you’ll know how Matthew McConaughey feels when he gets in a Lincoln. The sunset reflecting off the supercar’s polished paint creates a serene, satisfying feeling that is matched by its smooth handling.
In the third iteration of Horizon, the player is in charge of the Horizon Festival, the franchise’s ongoing in-game car and music celebration. It takes place in a spectacularly recreated Australia, which features urban streets, the beaches of Surfer’s Paradise, the famous Australian Outback, lush rainforests and the beautiful Twelve Apostles.
The game’s day-night cycle highlights Australia’s beauty, creating atmospheric views as the sun glistens off the waters of what seems like a real life Koopa Troopa Beach and as the bright lights of the concrete jungle illuminate street races. Well aware of its own majesty, Horizon 3 prompts players to take in its breathtaking views at lookout points spread throughout its map. During these moments, Horizon 3’s Australia looks almost better than its true-life counterpart.
Overall, there are six different terrains, with vehicles meant to conquer each of the game’s environments. As great as Horizon’s Australia looks, the game’s vehicles may look even better. Forza Motorsport, the sim version of the Forza brand, takes great pride in recreating cars in meticulous detail. These gorgeous vehicles are brought into Horizon 3 as well.
Everything from the BMW M3 to the Ford Bronco, and even Halo’s Warthog, is rendered in all of their glory, down to accurate handling and acceleration. In addition to the brilliant recreations, there is more customization in Horizon 3 than in previous iterations. Paint jobs can be customized to the tiniest detail, but changes to the body can also be made to further personalize your vehicles.
Overall, the visuals create an incredibly immersive playground for a diverse collection of toys.
Outback Race House
With the franchise’s best setting thus far, it is a shame that the campaign is more linear this time around. As head of the Horizon Festival, it is your job to acquire new fans, recruit new drivers and expand the scope of the event. In the opening hours, a female assistant directs you toward challenges that will achieve these goals, and this is where the stereotypical gearhead mentality comes into play.
Players can choose from a surprisingly diverse cast of protagonists, but these are just character skins on a driver who never speaks (although it is cool that the other characters refer to you by your actual name). The plot plays to a testosterone-filled male audience, but there is not enough dialogue in the game for this to become a major distraction.
The narrative-driven start of the game focuses on player choices, and this gradually opens up to the full scope of Australia. The open-world feel loses some of its luster during races, where drivers must make their way around tight corners and through checkpoints without taking advantage of the game’s openness. Races are also often too easy, even with the ability to ramp up the difficulty.
Players can ditch races to complete more fun challenges and missions away from the main festival, allowing gamers to get lost in the game’s locales. However, multiplayer is the most challenging way to play Horizon 3.
Online play is seamlessly integrated into the main campaign. In fact, players can join up with friends online to complete the game in co-op. This adds an extra element of difficulty and intensity to an otherwise repetitive task. Multiplayer also includes a free roam mode and an option to compete in full races against real players.
Both previous versions of Horzion had an online mode, but Horizon 3’s is actually worth exploring. This time around, it is more engaging, creating an open world that actually feels alive. For the first time in a Horizon game, I found myself jumping into multiplayer more than playing solo.
A more linear storyline drives the campaign in this Horizon, but the openness of the first two entries in the franchise is what made them so appealing in the first place. The EDM-inspired Horizon Festival is taken to new self-absorbed levels in Forza Horizon 3, and this hurts the game overall.
Yet, in other aspects, this is the best Forza Horizon yet. The graphics are stunning, and that’s despite the fact that I couldn’t take advantage of the game’s HDR settings. Online play is seamlessly integrated with the game’s open-world concept, and the multiplayer modes present a challenge that isn’t present in the campaign.
Forza Horizon 3 tries hard to appeal to a specific audience, but it is easy to overlook this because it is an exhilarating “arcade” racer.
Forza Horizon 3 was reviewed on Xbox One using a code for the game provided by the publisher.
tags: forza , forza horizon , Forza Horizon 3 , Forza Horizon 3 Review , review