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Forza Horizon: The Next Great Addition to the Franchise?

/ Oct 22nd, 2012 No Comments

Forza Horizon
Forza Horizon

Forza Horizon

Forza Horizon is a spin-off game in the Forza Motorsports series. The title is developed by Playground Games in association with Turn 10 Studios and offers a free roam experience set in Colorado during a fictional race event called the Horizon Festival. With the game’s release date (October 23rd) just days away and the demo having been available on Xbox Live for over a week now, let’s take a quick look at what Horizon has to offer and whether or not we can expect another amazing Forza game.

[adsense250itp]Horizon is all about being open world. To compete for cars and points in the campaign, you open your in-game map, pick one of the many events available, and drive over to it to enter the race or challenge. To keep you from getting lost, there’s a GPS system that you can navigate with the controller or through Kinect voice commands. As you cruise around, you’ll notice the work put into creating realistic, living environments. There are birds and planes in the sky, slow-moving traffic that you’ll be weaving through haphazardly in races, and dynamic lighting that shifts from day to night in-game. The scenery looks and feels like Colorado as it transitions from canyons to foothills to long stretches of asphalt. Geysers go off in the distance and warm colors coat everything.

Welcome to the Horizon Festival.

Welcome to the Horizon Festival.

For the most part, after you switch off the driver assists, car handling in Horizon is about the same as in Forza 4. There’s a bit more drifting this time around, but that comes with taking the cars off the professional racetrack and onto dirt roads. That said, rest assured that Horizon still feels like a racing sim in the truest sense of the term. Of course, the new title will feature the in-depth level of car customization Forza is known for—from paint, to decals, to body and performance—as well as fan favorites like photo mode and race rewind. The developers have announced that the game will also allow you to import vinyl groups from Forza 4, so that you don’t have to go through the pain of remaking them.

As for gameplay, Horizon has a lot to keep things from becoming bland. In the demo alone, you get a taste for the spectacle events hosted by the festival when you race against a low flying crop duster one-on-one. As you roam the map, you’ll also notice rival cars from the festival that you can catch up to, hit X on your controller, and challenge to a race then and there. The game also has night driving and something called Barn Finds, which refers to finding classic cars scattered across the map that you can restore and drive. Speed cameras that record your top MPH’s and post them on leaderboards online look like another nice touch for the game.

Lighting shifts from day to night in game.

Lighting shifts from day to night in game.

Unfortunately, online multiplayer is separate from the single player experience, so if you want to free roam with up to 8 friends online you have to go to the multiplayer menu and set it up there. Besides the open world mode, friends can also gather to complete co-op challenges online.

Altogether, Forza Horizon looks really promising, especially given all of the high scores it’s received in early reviews. A look at the ongoing list of cars confirmed in the game so far is a bit lackluster and familiar, but it seems like the game’s free roam and race events could make up for that. If you haven’t tried the demo out yet, give it a download and see what you think for yourself. It offers about 20 minutes of gameplay and you get an in game vehicle (‘13 SRT Viper GTS) for the full game when it comes out on Tuesday.

As always, keep reading Gaming Illustrated for news on the Forza series and upcoming video game releases.

Romtin Erfani

Romtin Erfani

Romtin Erfani is just another kid in college whose been playing video games as long as he can remember. FPS games are his favorite, but he's been known to dabble in a little of everything.
Romtin Erfani

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