34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
What NFS should've evolved to,
This review is from: Forza Horizon - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
When I first heard about Forza Horizon, I thought the game was taking the wrong direction. The new Need for Speed: Most Wanted is basically Burnout Paradise 2, and I thought Forza Horizon was Turn 10's take on trying to be more Need for Speed to attract people my age (I'm 21), but aren't necessarily gearheads. Little did I know, it's basically a free-roam version of a Forza title, but less simulation. The release of the demo a few weeks before the game's released made me very excited to play the full title. Luckily for me, a local Meijer had copies of the game ready to go at midnight, so a short walk led me to having a copy of the game in my hands.
TL;DR version: I LOVE THIS GAME!!! If you like Need for Speed-ish games, but want something more realistic, grab it. Don't even think twice about it. If you're a die-hard Forza fan, play the demo first. If you're curious, again, play the demo first.
Forza Horizon is based on the fictitious Horizon festival in Colorado. The Horizon festival centers around a rave theme, which is appropriate considering that EDM has taken off in the States. Along with the theme comes the race events, which you'll take part in, with the goal of working your way through the ranks to take down the three-time champion, Darius Flynt. It reminds you of a friendlier version of the original Need for Speed: Most Wanted, since, although you are racing in the streets, the game does not center around illicit street-racing. However, there is an option to engage in illicit street races, and they also carry a hefty pot if you just so happen to win one.
From the beginning of the game, you're introduced to Scott Tyler, one of the three DJ's for Horizon's three radio stations. Scott is the DJ for Horizon Bass Arena, a station for those that like House (it sounds a bit like Acid House to me), Electro, Dubstep, and Drum & Bass. Horizon Pulse is the Indie station, and Horizon Rocks is, obviously, the Rock station. Although it's described as being more of a "Hard Rock" station, it's more of a "Punk Rock/soft Rock" station. If you're expecting to hear something that sounds like Disturbed and Metallica, you're going to be sorely disappointed. If you're not a fan of Skrillex, Modestep, Wolfgang Gartner, Netsky, Nero, Digitalism, or Sigma, you're not going to like Bass Arena. Fortunately, the Xbox 360 allows custom soundtracks for every game, so you're not forced to listen to the stations if you don't want to. Personally, I LOVE Bass Arena because EDM is currently my favorite genre of music.
Once you fire up the game, your thrown in a 2013 SRT Viper, cruising on the streets of Colorado, when Scott Tyler states that the champion is on his way to the festival and he "does not play nice with others". At the same time, Darius's Ferrari 599XX (yes, the race-version) passes you and you're instantly thrown in a race against a car that's much faster than yours. It's not a complete blow-out, and it's possible to pass him, but slip up once and he'll gladly show you what the exhausts look like. There is no reward for reaching the "finish line" before Darius, though it is an exciting experience to be thrown right into a high-speed race with Drum & Bass thumping in the background. The "finish line" is actually a group of racers, with your nameless protagonist among them, listening to the radio and watching as the Viper you were driving and Darius pass them, still in a heated race. You're then informed that there are only ten spots left to participate in the festival, meaning you're thrown in another race in an attempt to earn a spot in the festival. Once you finally reach the festival, you're greeted by the CEO of the whole event, Alice Hart, then introduced to Dak, an elderly gearhead who clearly has a place in the game.
Your very-first car in the game that you get to buy is, surprisingly, either a 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI or a 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer EVOLUTION, because your first event is an off-road event. Introducing the first-born child of Forza and Dirt, ladies and gentlemen. Unlike the previous titles, you start off in pretty-decent cars. It's also insanely easy (compared to previous Forza titles) to obtain money and to buy faster cars. I was able to buy the million-credit Koenigsegg CCXR before I was even halfway through the main career. The game rewards you for turning off assists and turning up the AI difficulty. For example, turning off everything, but leaving the transmission on automatic and the AI difficulty on medium doubles your winnings in every race. If I'm not mistaken, the highest bonus you can receive is 120%. That means, for example, if you win 30K in a race, you'll actually walk away with 66,000 credits, because the 120% bonus granted you an extra 36K. It may sound like the game is a walk in the park, but Hard and Insane difficulty settings actually live up to their names. Matter of fact, I don't think the computer makes mistakes on Insane.
Also, from the start, you're introduced to the "Stars" of the Horizon festival. For example, the first Star you must defeat in order to move up in the ranks is Romana Cravache. This is where the similarities between Horizon and Most Wanted come into play. In order to advance in Most Wanted, you needed to complete the challenges set by the Blacklist member you're trying to beat, then race him/her. Beating them gave you a chance to win their car. In Forza Horizon, you must win enough races to earn the amount of points needed to advance to the next wristband. They go from Purple to Gold, with Gold being the last wristband you earn. Once you earn enough to advance to the next wristband, the Star of the previous one will challenge you to a race. If you win, you keep their car. When it comes to the story, you're actually beating the Star drivers to the next wristband, knocking them out of the competition. Them challenging you to a race and putting their pink slips on the line is more of an attempt to get "revenge" due to you eliminating them from the competition.
When it comes to gameplay, Forza Horizon attempts to balance out realism with an arcade-feel. Imagine not worrying about damage like in Need for Speed, but still needing to pay attention to cornering and throttle control like in Forza. Returning from Forza Motorsport 4 is the option to have Manual with a clutch. You can still upgrade your cars, for example, by putting a body kit or the always-present Forza bumper and spoilers to improve your handling, but tuning has been completely eliminated from the game. The only "taste" of tuning you get is you have the option to upgrade a lot of the cars to whatever Performance Index you want. You can take a B-class EVOLUTION an mod it so that it can participate in R1 class, but that doesn't mean it's going to perform very well at the class. I bought a Gallardo Superleggera (a stock S class), had it at R3 class, and tried to upgrade it to R1 class. It's horrible at R1 class, but is amazing to drive at R3 class. To add to the simulation feel, this game still requires you to learn the appropriate line to navigate the track. You're not going to take many corners at 150mph a la Need for Speed, unless you're on the highway in a Koenigsegg. To better explain how the game feels, imagine Forza Motorsport 4, but easier. You don't have to worry about throttle control to prevent oversteer as much (unless you're in a high-powered vehicle), and you don't have to take every corner perfectly in order to win the race. It's more forgiving this time around.
The cars in the game range from your typical "middle-class" vehicles to the toys for the wealthy, to a few full-blown race cars. Some of the cars include the Koenigsegg CCXR, the Pagani Zonda R, Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, Ferrari F50GT, Ferrari 599XX, Toyota Supra, Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 V-SpecII, Nissan GT-R, Shelby GT500, and the Lamborghini Aventador, just to name a few. A full car-list can easily be found online. While the game does have a nice blend of cars, and a lot of cars I actually like, I can't help but feel the race cars are out of place here. The theme is an event that takes place on closed roads (with the occasional illicit street races). You would think all of the cars in the game would be street-legal to match the setting. To balance it out, though, you can't go to many events with the fastest cars in the game, and the ones that DO allow the fastest cars aren't unlocked until the last wristband anyway. It works well with the whole, "Darius only races the best drivers at the festival" story bit, because the best drivers are driving the fastest (sometimes race-built) vehicles.
There are a few things I didn't like about Forza Horizon. For one, whenever you're in a race against one of the Star characters, they tend to repeat their lines and movements. With Ali, this wasn't as big of an issue for me because I actually liked him, but if you didn't like the characters the first time you ran into them, you'll hate them by the time you finish the game. Another thing I didn't like was that the map, as big as it is, doesn't have a lot of road to take up the vast amount of empty space. You'll also find yourself on the same track throughout multiple wristband events. For having 216 roads to discover, you'd think they would be able to have more variety in the tracks. Granted I only remember repeating five of the circuits, but still, that's five too many. The story, while again, featuring characters I do like, is a bit too bland. You start as the new guy without a name, work your way through the ranks, beat Darius, and then........nothing. You just beat him. You win the last festival race, beat him in a street race, win his car, and the credits role. For having such a long build-up to the final race between you & Darius, I was hoping for at least an ending. Instead we get "Well, this car is now yours" and credits. To say the ending is a disappointment is an understatement. Also, the day/night cycle is too short. According to the official forums, it's about 45 minutes. While I appreciate the cycle, I wish it were much longer, especially since night-racing is so much fun.
Overall, Forza Horizon is an amazing game, that actually does a pretty good job trying to capture the modern "young adult" culture in regards to style and music. The game is very-fun to play, has a nice blend of an arcade feel with realistic physics, and successfully blends the two things I love the most, electronic music and cars.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 28, 2012 11:21:10 PM PDT
J. McLemore says:
spoiler alert would've bee nice haha
Posted on Oct 29, 2012 11:52:59 AM PDT
Andrew Becker says:
Nice review. Thanks for taking the time to enter it.
Posted on Nov 22, 2012 8:39:32 AM PST
C. Hall says:
I don't see how you can give a game a 5 star review with a substantial paragraph on all of the things you dislike.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2012 2:55:39 PM PST
who is AEK says:
the rest of the review is filled with things I DID like...........
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