The Average Gamer

Hands-on With Forza Horizon

Forza Horizon - DestructionAs much as I admire Turn 10 Studios for their single-minded pursuit of perfectly recreating the mechanics of driving exotic sports cars in their hugely successful Forza games, they’ve always felt a bit dull. Sure, all the cars look extraordinarily pretty and the tracks are both numerous and varied but they’re not massivly exciting to drive because the game doesn’t let you explore the limits of the cars.

Also any indiscretion – however minor – from the racing line during the races results in an unceremonious slide down the leader board. Damn it game, stop spoiling my driving fun!

Forza Horizon on the other hand is a veritable bag of excitement. Just imagine what the love child of Burnout Paradise and Forza 4 would be like. Well, I can tell you now that Forza Horizon is that game.

The playable demo on the E3 2012 show floor had one simple premise – drive a car as fast as humanly possible. I was to take part in a stage from the Horizon Festival in Colorado, USA and I had to be amongst the first 10 cars to finish. Cross the line in 11th place or lower and I would be excluded from the next event.

I had one car to choose from, a red 2013 SRT Viper before being thrown straight into the action. There was no car set-up to worry about. Just drive the car, bloody fast.

The first thing that struck me was the responsiveness of the car. It was as if the steering had been wired directly into my brain. I was slipstreaming other racers, dodging in and out of traffic and power sliding around corners with consummate ease, if I do say so myself. And best of all, I was getting rewarded for my boy-racer driving via a points system similar to one found in the Burnout series of games, i.e. points earned vary according to each action performed.

Top Gear’s Richard Hammond perfectly summed up my feelings about the demo with his famous quote from the show “I am a driving God!

At one point the whole road was shaking under my car. An earthquake in a Forza game? Seriously? A quick peek outside my car confirmed that the earthquake was actually my car being buffeted by turbulent air from a very (very) low flying aircraft. At least I think it was. This is all sorts of crazy, in a fun way.
Forza Horizon - Road To Nowhere
After destroying a ton of white fences, some frankly outrageous cutting of corners and side-swiping my opponents off the road I crossed the finish line in first place. Sure, it wasn’t the most complicated of stages with only a few different routes available but it did deliver buckets of heart-stopping, lighting fast racing. This short glimpse into a new world of open-world racing Forza-style left me wanting a lot more.

It’s also the first Forza game not to be developed by Turn 10 themselves. UK-based Playground Games has that honour and they count developers who have previously worked on Blur, Project Gotham Racing, Split-Second, Driver, GRID and Burnout amongst their staff. You know all those really fun driving games. This explains why I had so much fun with this demo.

If you’ve previously been put off by Forza’s rather serious and technical racing then Forza Horizon, on this evidence at least, should not be missed.

Forza Horizon is due for release on the 23rd Oct 2012 for Xbox 360.