On the Horizon
By Ashley Bennett
Every holiday season offers up a slew of anticipated games to desire but games aren’t cheap—a challenge to getting the five-plus titles that I so desperately want to play. As consumers we have to find value in a game worth the $64.64 we’ll end up paying ($59.99 plus taxes). Racing titles aren’t normally my cup of tea which made my brief play through of Forza Horizon entertaining and honestly, insightful.
Dan Greenawalt (Creative Director of Turn 10 Studios which worked on previous Forza titles) describes the theme and overall goal of the Forza series “To make gamers into car lovers and car lovers into gamers.” For hardcore fans of the series, this means that the atmosphere of this new installment will leave you wondering if it’s the Forza that you used to know (cue Gotye face paint). While the core of Forza Horizon still offers a variety of content with various authentic makes and models, the complete style of gameplay has changed to bring in less car-savvy folk.
This leaves Forza Horizon set in the open-world landscape of a beautifully designed Colorado. The map instantly reveals that there is much road to be driven on here, but it’s all centered on the fictionally famous Horizon Festival (think Coachella with cars). With a very prominent do-what-you-want style of gameplay, you can choose to screw around, purposefully hit highway signs and perform burnouts for popularity points which help you get noticed by fans and thus earn wristbands to progress through the game. The open world is racing heaven where speeding is rewarded and all thoughts related to worrying about being caught by the cops are left in the dust of your favorite (insert car name here).
The Horizon Festival acts as a hub for campaign direction which sends you out into the boonies of the desert. Drive past a marked festival spot and you’ll instantly jump into a traditional race against various cars and drivers—although I found that racing a Ford Mustang against a Mustang airplane is an enticing twist to a traditional racing competition.
Forza Horizon is a very clear departure from the seriousness brought out by the smoothly paved tracks of a speedway and accelerates into driving freedom where players, from fans of the Ford Focus to Lamborghini, are given free rein to both terrorize and dominate the Horizon Festival as they please.
Forza Horizon (Published by Turn 10 Studios and Microsoft Studios. Developed by Playground Games) will release exclusively on Xbox 360 on October 23. Standard Edition, $59.99. Collector’s Edition, $79.99. For more info go to forzamotorsport.net.