Reviews// Forza Horizon

Posted 22 Oct 2012 16:59 by
(Finally, frankly on a personal level, I'd applaud an independent studio that wanted to make its first game a sure-fire success by aping games that preceded it in order for it to go on and do something original. But this has the weight of a platform exclusive, Microsoft Game Studios and the hard-won Forza heritage behind it. Still, if the consumer accepts this sort of thing, we can't complain eh? Best not to at least.)

+ Open environment
+ Lots to do
+ Easy to understand

- Derivative, but what do you expect?
- Dull handling.
- Erm... nice.

Tim's SPOnG Score: 5/10

Got all that? Right. Good. Here, in the name of balance and cosmic order is... well, me, Mark E. Johnson:

I wanted to lead off my bit of this review with a clever musical analogy. 'Forza Horizon is to Forza 1/2/3/4 what punk was to prog rock', or something like that. Except, of course, punk wasn't all that cynical and corporate. I've scratched around for an analogy that says 'Forza Horizon is to Forza 1/2/3/4 what a fun and well-constructed if somewhat creatively barren new music genre was to a slow, ponderous, intensely nerdy and pompous older genre'. Couldn't come up with one.

Anyway, Horizon take a break from Forza's serious, 'realistic' simulation model in favour of a faster, lighter and more open approach. It's actually fun.

It comes complete with a substantial open-world map and content veritably bursting out of the disc-drive. The events are numerous and varied, ranging from bog-standard races to speed challenges to photo exercises designed only to make you look at the environment and realise it's pretty. The format is very, very familiar and doesn't need a lot of explanation.

You may well be thinking, 'that sounds a bit like Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit!' Good on you. It is a lot like Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (minus the coppers). And it borrows from Burnout, and the presentation is vaguely reminiscent of DiRT titles gone by. In fact, it brings very little new stuff to the arcadey end of the racing table.

If Horizon has its own raison d'etre (pardon my douchiness), it's the way in which it leans ever so slightly more towards the 'realistic' end of the handling spectrum than its peers. The vehicles are all largely very handle-able, but there's a little more scope to send your car of choice fishtailing across the road than you'd find in a Need for Speed game. It's all still fast and fun, but the slightly more challenging handling does make for slightly more challenging gameplay.

You might make the case that the extensive stable of drivable vehicles sets it a little apart, too. Just because that sounds a bit Forza-ish don't get carried away, though. There's none of the noodling around tuning your car you'd expect of the series. But then, if you're a hardcore Forza fan you probably already knew that you shouldn't expect anything too Forza-y from this Forza game.

So: yes, Horizon is a somewhat cynical use of the Forza name. No, there isn't much in it that you couldn't find anywhere else. Yes, there's a fair chance that once Need for Speed: Most Wanted comes out Horizon will seem irrelevant. But, no, not every game has to reinvent the wheel. Forget your expectations of the Forza brand, don't ask that developer Playground reinvents the wheel and you can probably get a good few hours of enjoyment out of Forza Horizon. It might be a bit derivative, but it's derivative of the stronger games in its field and executes well on the bits and pieces that it's nicked.

+ Huge open world.
+ Loads of content.
+ A slight edge of difficulty you won't find in other arcade racers.

+ Abuses the word 'Forza'.
+ Bit of a magpie game.
+ No split-screen.

Mark's SPOnG Score: 7.5/10
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dwizcreations 23 Oct 2012 08:31
Great review folks. Have to ask, even though there are obvious faults with Test Drive Unlimited, can horizon be compared to it? At least the gameplay aspects?
Bottom line is that moderate to good racing games are hard to come by, and AAA titles are even more rare in the genre. So needless to say that this will be another sure shot purchase for a car enthusiast gamer. In my case, the limited collectors edition. :D.

As always, keep up the good work.
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