Forza Horizon Review: A Beautiful Open World
Forza Horizon offers car lovers an open world Forza that is just as stunning as previous titles.
It has only been about a year since we last saw Forza Motorsport 4, and the idea of playing another Forza game so soon is kind of tiring. Luckily, Forza Horizon feels unique compared to previous Forza titles, but at the same time manages to keep the formula that has given the franchise success.
Forza has always been about one thing. Cars. Building your garage with the world’s fastest and most expensive vehicles has been an entertaining addiction, but Forza Horizon looks to make some changes to the formula, attempting to put the focus on driving. The small changes to the formula surprisingly make Forza Horizon feel completely fresh and exciting.
Adding story elements to a racing game always feels kind of awkward, and sadly this is the one area where Forza Horizon feels odd. The story is fairly simple; enter the world’s biggest racing event, meet hot girl, win races and feel awesome. The Horizon event is an excuse for car lovers to meet up, compare cars and party till the break of dawn. The issue is the story elements feel completely out of place, and is simply integrated to keep the game moving. The lack of creativity in story is sad, and since Forza Horizon is trying something new with franchise, why not try something new for the story?
Races in Horizon are typical of what you would expect. There are circuits and sprints that keep the progression going. Every once in awhile you will get a chance to race something obscure like a hot air balloon or aircraft, but they really end up just being a sprint race. Horizon doesn’t add anything new to the racing format, but Forza Horizon is about much more than just racing.
Forza Horizon is for people who not only love cars, but love driving cars as well.
Forza Horizon isn’t about having the largest garage, or the fastest cars. It’s about the love of cars, and the love of driving. Once you get past the cut scenes of people partying the night away, players are introduced to the world of Horizon and can get back to the Forza Experience. Forza Horizon is about one thing, driving. Sure there are tons of cars to purchase and expand you garage, but the world of Horizon has been built for drivers to just appreciate.
There is so much to do in the fictional city of Horizon, and a lot of time will be spent just driving places. The main way to progress through the game is to win races, and get better cars, but becoming the best racer in Horizon will take much more than winning. At all times players will be leveling up the Horizon rank. Drafting, near misses, high speed and drifting all help your rank. Increasing your rank will reward you with various items, and even some inside news to hidden classic cars that need restoring.
Even with the open world experience, developer Playground Games has ensured that hardcore fans of Forza will still get the elements that make Forza so good. The online system is still extremely solid, and the amazing community that the Forza franchise is known for is intact. The amazing marketplace for content like custom pain schemes makes its return, and players can make intricate pieces of car art just as they always have with Forza.
The cars themselves are still obviously a huge focus for Forza Horizon, but the focus isn’t on the number of cars. All of the major car manufactures are there. You have the major manufacturers, but the number of cars from each one is smaller, although the most popular cars from each manufacturer are there. Again, the focus of Horizon isn’t to build the biggest garage, but to build a garage of cars you like to drive.
The online car clubs also make their return in Forza Horizon. Players can create a club and invite all of their friends to join. Players can compare their times and ghosts with everyone in the car club, and receive updates when one of their times have been beaten. A few new things have also been added with that theory in mind. Speed traps and speed zones have been added to provide players a chance to beat their friends on the fly. While driving around Horizon there are points that will check your speed instantly, or over a section of road, and compare it with your friends right away. This mechanic provides some really intense moments when you were on your way to a race, and suddenly spend an hour trying to beat your friends speed.
A lot of the mechanics in Forza Horizon are indeed the same as previous Forza titles, but it’s the amazing attention to detail that always made Forza a high quality title. That same level of polish returns in Forza Horizon, and the engine powering it is just as impressive as its counterpart. Horizon runs off a modified version of the Forza 4 engine, but the big difference is the frame rate. While Forza 4 ran at 60 frames per second, Forza Horizon runs at 30. This has been a topic that many gamers were worried about. There is so much more that goes into development when creating a title that runs at 60 frames. Things like screen tearing and input lag are drawbacks of 30 frames, but amazingly Forza Horizon look and controls amazingly at 30 frames per second. The cars are still rendered with amazing detail, and give off that distinctive Forza shine. Draw distances are quite incredible, and the looking out into the world of Horizon can be truly breath taking at times.
Forza Horizon may run at 30 frames, but it’s so smooth you can’t even tell.
Another area where 30 frames can make a difference is the controls. Luckily just like the graphics of Forza Horizon, the controls are just what they should be. Latency is not an issue, and drivers of all different skill levels can pick up a controller and get comfortable. All of the options like ABS and traction control can be modified, but the hardcore players can still adjust all of their options to their hearts content.
Forza Horizon doesn’t do much different than the typical Forza formula, but Horizon is much more than just an open world Forza. Playground Games has done exactly what needed to be accomplished. Make a Forza game that is open world, but is still extremely polished like previous Forza titles. Everything that makes Forza such a great franchise is here, but Forza Horizon gives players that just want to play a fun racing game a chance to keep up. If you are someone who truly enjoys cars, or just somebody who likes a good racing game, Forza Horizon is for you.