Racing games are a tough sell for some gamers unless we’re talking about Mario Kart or my personal favorite, Diddy Kong Racing. I can certainly see the argument when it comes to simulation racers being too complex and boring for some, but not all arcade racers deserve to fall in this category. Sometimes it takes a game to step outside of its comfort zone and do something completely different to draw the crowd in. That my friend is exactly what Forza Horizon accomplishes.
Forza Horizon is an open world racing game that takes place in the Colorado Rockies where a giant racing festival known as Horizon is hosted each year. Horizon is where racers from all over the world come to compete to be the top racer at the event, but they all have the difficult task of knocking off defending 3 time champion, Darius Flynt. You play as a nameless character who wasn’t even going to be in the event until he heard over the car radio that the next 10 drivers that showed up to race central would be allowed to compete in the event. To challenge Darius for the Horizon crown, you’ll first have to acquire 7 different colored wristbands. To do this, you’ll have to compete in circuit and point-to-point races. After completing a race, you’ll earn points towards your next wristband as well as credits that can be used to purchase cars and upgrades.
Don’t get too attached to just driving one car around in all the races. The game requires you to use multiple cars ranging from E class all the way up to an R1 class. Each race has its own requirement. Some races may require you to drive a car from a certain country, a certain year, or even a certain model. Each race also has a class rank that you cannot exceed. This really allows the player to experience a good variety of the cars available in the game. This all might sound like a bit much to take in at first, but the game’s interface is very user friendly and you don’t have to be a car person to understand how the system works.
There is plenty to do in Forza Horizon’s single player outside of the festival races. You can compete in PR events or even race in street races for a larger pile of cash. There are also cars hidden in barns throughout the over world. If you find them, they’re yours to keep. You can also spend some free time just driving around smashing Dak’s upgrade signs. There are 100 upgrade signs hidden throughout the over world. Each upgrade sign that you hit will get you 1% off of all your upgrades for all your cars. If you can get all 100, all of your upgrades will be free. It’s a nice incentive considering how many cars you’ll earn and will be driving throughout the single-player alone.
The multiplayer is actually one of my favorite aspects of the game, but that may be because I have a group of friends to play with. You can compete in all kinds of game types ranging from circuit races, point to point, street races, King, Cat and Mouse, and Infected. Playground games like King, Cat and Mouse, and Infected a real blast if you have a group of friends to play with. If you don’t want to compete in competitive multiplayer, you can always go into free roam by yourself or with friends. Free roam takes away the traffic and lets you cruise around and do whatever you want. While you can’t compete in races in free roam, you can still smash upgrade signs. You can complete co-op challenges if you have at least one friend playing with you. Challenges include driving from point to point in a specific car class in a certain amount of time. Some challenges can be completed with only 2 players while others will require 4.
Forza Horizon is one of the best looking games on the Xbox 360. The lighting effects are fantastic, the car models are sharp, and the background scenery almost looks like it was stolen from Google images. Even the transition from daytime to nighttime is breathtaking.
I usually will play my own music whenever I’m playing a racing game, but that wasn’t the case with Forza Horizon. The game has a very fitting soundtrack and appeals to a wide variety of audience. There are 3 radio stations that can be changed within your car and include Horizon Rock, Horizon Pulse, and Horizon Bass Arena. The different radio stations offer about 20 tracks per station and really offer a wide variety of music that will appeal to almost any player. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of dubstep, but I found myself listening to nothing else but Horizon Bass Arena.
Forza Horizon is a great game, but I do have some minor complaints. Like the previous Forza games, the damage simulator isn’t very impressive. I found that I could rear-end another vehicle going 80mph and end up with minor damage, but my spoiler and rear bumper would fall off if I side swiped a bush. There is a nice variety of cars to select from, but there really isn’t a nice selection of E, D, and C class vehicles. I would’ve loved to have seen the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Chevy Cobalt, Dodge Neon, Toyota Celica, and a few others in this game. Half the fun is upgrading your cars and the selection of lower class cars isn’t a very impressive selection to choose from.
Overall, Forza Horizon is a great racing game. The franchise took a different direction and created an open world racer that told a small, but entertaining story and paired with some of the most addictive gameplay that I’ve come across in years. Forza Horizon does have its problems, but they’re minor problems to say the least. Forza Horizon is easily the best racing game available on the Xbox 360.