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Review

Forza Horizon Review

  • Game release: October 23, 2012
  • Reviewed:
  • X360

Forza Horizon's untethered love for the open road makes it a terrific spinoff to this racing franchise.

There's something oddly romantic about Forza Horizon. Gone are the real-life circuits of Motorsport, replaced by a gorgeous stretch of the American West. Sweeping praries and looming peaks set a grand stage, and a persistent sense of competition keeps the vast expanse from feeling lonely. Add in Forza's famously stellar driving physics, and you have a game that makes it a joy to hit the asphalt and roam wherever the road takes you. The experience isn't as refined as its predecessors, but Horizon is an exciting and adventurous spinoff just the same.

Horizon's setting is a fictional interpretation of the Colorado countryside, with the Rockies on one end of the map and an imposing desert on the other. In between is a rolling mesh of highways, dirt roads, and small towns. It's a beautiful landscape, where varied geography and a full day-night cycle combine to create some impressive vistas. Moments like cresting a hill at 150mph just as the sun begins to rise are a frequent occurrence, leading you to throw your car around one corner after another in a fit of automotive wanderlust.

Of course, it's not all free-form exploration. Horizon's story--yes, this is a Forza game with a storyline--revolves around the titular Horizon Festival, an event that attracts 250 gearheads to compete in a slew of events spread throughout Horizon's version of Colorado. The story unfolds through cinematics depicting your rise through the ranks of the competition, hitting a few awkward notes along the way by focusing on a cast of desperately hip 20-something drivers and their penchant for forced trash-talking. Awkward though it is, the story never becomes invasive or obnoxious; it's merely forgettable fluff that serves to explain your place in Horizon's collection of events.

The structure of these events should feel familiar to anyone who has played a Forza game. Races largely fall into themed categories with performance caps that scale according to your progression. You might begin the game by facing off against C-class muscle cars before eventually moving on to a competition against S-class Italian sports cars. Horizon has inherited the smooth difficulty curve of previous games, so building up your skills from one tier to the next remains a nice, gradual process. It's unfortunate that so many of these cars are carryovers from previous games, and the overall selection isn't quite as expansive as Forza 4's, but the process of working your way up the performance index remains as enthralling as ever.

Horizon's characters are too artificial for their own good, but they don't take up enough screen time to be much of a problem.

Where Horizon deviates from Forza's past is in its mixed-surface events and point-to-point races that take advantage of the expansive, sprawling terrain. This version of Colorado isn't all asphalt; you often find yourself tearing through winding dirt roads on your quest for victory. These surfaces don't feel as chunky and volatile as a rally racer in the vein of Dirt, but adjusting your driving style to handle varied terrain is a refreshing challenge. Events like these, as well as endurance runs that send you clear across the road map through constantly shifting geographical terrain, help to set Horizon apart from its circuit-based predecessors.

One of Horizon's great strengths is that, even outside of organized events, the sense of competition is all around you. At any point you can pull up behind other festival drivers (distinguishable from regular traffic by the name above their car) and challenge them to a race on the spot. Speed trap cameras are placed on just about every road, capturing your high speed as you pass through them, registering your pace on a leaderboard and, if you're good enough, sending a message straight to your Xbox Live friends that they've been outperformed.

Throughout all this is a real-time feedback system that functions as a natural extension of the one found in Forza 4. Only here it's not just stylish drifting that's rewarded, but also narrowly avoiding head-on collisions, knocking down stop signs, and catching the occasional bit of air. The rewards aren't massive--you're granted credits when you perform such-and-such number of dangerous maneuvers--but they function as a persistent form of positive feedback, letting you feel like you're never wasting your time by just driving around at your own leisure.

Horizon's day-night cycle makes for some terrific views--even when the sun is in your eyes.

Despite Horizon's newfound focus on style and flash, sim enthusiasts need not be alarmed: this is no arcade racer. Like in previous entries in the franchise, vehicle handling is determined by a modular collection of driving assists, such as traction control, that let you fine-tune the experience to your liking. With all the assists enabled, Horizon is an accessible racer that doesn't command expert-level driving skills. But disable all those assists, and the cars are short of lively and demanding. You need to be wary of the Hennessy Viper's penchant for skidding around like mad when you've hit the throttle too hard in the low gears, just as you need to respect the Ford F-150's habit of flipping over on fast corners like a dog who wants its belly rubbed. But, as in previous Forzas, taming these beasts is a deeply rewarding endeavor.

You'll want to invest some time in your driving skills, too, because the AI competition has done its homework. Whereas Forza 4 suffered from an issue where opposing drivers would frequently overshoot sharp corners almost at random, there are very few of those mistakes in Horizon. The Forza AI's occasional aggressive streak remains intact--which you can have fun exploiting on the highway by luring anyone drafting you into oncoming traffic--but overall, the competition's intelligence feels somewhat improved.

Car customization is one area where Forza veterans may find themselves disappointed. You can still combine your own vinyl decals with new paint to create custom liveries, as well as upgrade your stock parts to become more competitive at higher racing tiers. But these systems are virtually identical to those found in the last few outings, and beyond that, Forza 4's advanced tuning system (where you could tweak tire pressure or brake bias, for instance) is a complete no-show in Horizon. On the plus side, the process of photographing your car and sharing your artwork is far more rewarding here than it has ever been thanks to the natural beauty and varied lighting of Horizon's virtual Colorado.

Those who invest time in designing their own vinyls and liveries will be happy to hear that the online storefront makes its return in Horizon (where you can import and sell your old vinyls), as do the vehicle-sharing car clubs introduced in Forza 4. Of course, Horizon's online offerings also extend to competitive multiplayer, where you can easily jump into a match using an intuitive and relatively effortless matchmaking lobby system.

Cockpit views make a return in Horizon, seen here in the glowing dash of a 1954 Mercedes 300SL.

At its best, Horizon's multiplayer is either incredibly intense (like gunning toward the finish line at night in a 20-mile point-to-point race) or ridiculously goofy (like eight cars careening around a golf course all trying to smash into one driver in the king-of-the-hill mode), but it's terrific fun throughout. And in a very nice touch, there's a slot machine system that rewards you with a random car or pile of credits every time you level up in multiplayer (which happens fast and often in the early goings).

While Horizon's competitive multiplayer is entertaining, its cooperative free-roam system feels like a missed opportunity. This is where you can get a bunch of players together in the same world and either wander around on your own or band together to complete co-op challenges such as combining for 100 near misses or having four players pass through the same speed trap at 200mph within five seconds of each other. Some of these challenges can be wonderfully entertaining, but the way they're communicated to players is clunky and obtuse. Only the host can select a challenge, and by default the game fails to tell you where a specific speed trap is located on the map. On top of that, you constantly have to pull up and scroll through a lengthy menu to remind yourself of the details of each challenge, sending your car coasting down the road without a driver to steer it.

With all the varied terrain in Horizon, taking photos of you car is more fun than ever.

It's a shame that outside of rivals mode challenges, which let you race your friends' ghosts after each festival event, single-player and multiplayer are kept at arm's length in Horizon. You have to exit out of the former to get to the latter, because there's no way for a friend to simply drop into your world for some free-roaming fun while you're taking part in festival events. With some tighter integration between single-player and multiplayer, and the sorts of customization opportunities found in car modification (there's no way to create your own race by selecting waypoints on the map, for instance), the free-roaming could have been an absolute blast. As it stands, though, it's fun for a little while, but that novelty wears out quickly.

Horizon may not be as socially capable as some open-world games, but it's still a terrific racer. It's hard to overstate just how beautiful the world is that Playground Games has created. From the foothills of the Rockies to the winding roads that scale desert cliffs, it's an absolute delight to put your car through its paces as you explore every last inch of asphalt. Horizon's occasional missteps may clash with the machinelike precision of the Motorsport games that preceded it, but its ambition and untethered road map more than make up for those faults. This is a game that understands the thrill of the open road, and in delivering that thrill it's an unqualified success.

The Good
Sprawling open world is a blast to explore
Stunning vistas highlighted by a full day-night cycle
Flexible difficulty welcomes a wide range of drivers
Plenty to do outside organized events
Terrific competitive multiplayer.
The Bad
Awkward storytelling
Disappointing online free-roaming.
8.5
Great
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6 comments
redbat32
redbat32

this game i got during black friday and for 15 bucks i say this game is way better than need for speed it just has all the great stuff racing game should have such has design performance fun 

guily6669
guily6669

I liked it a lot.


But for me there's a big lack of content in the game. If it had proper content I would give it 9.9\10, but as it is 8.5 is really what I also would give it.


There's even no horn.


If it had amazing weather effects, a bigger world with like snow too, things to buy like in TU2, and seriously any other things to do in the game, I would call it an unbeatable game for a long time 9.9\10......


EA, I hope this show you how to make a game. STUPID NFS games....... I wanted a game like NFS U2 back, but it seems impossible :(.

OmarOmara
OmarOmara

I actually JUST finished the game. Forza Horizon is simply the best cars' game I've ever played, even better than Need for Speed Most wanted or Driver SF !

blk95
blk95

Horizon is a good game but after those garage finds it goes flat and its the same race deal missions of shuffling longer courses hitting the rewind button very other turn.  Its not a racing game to perfection and lap times. Its a crusin the streets game type put more detail!!!!Car selection is like they copped Fm4 and said lets charge them to hand down another ford focus that's brutal. I'd pay only for rare DLC cars or Maps. That rally pack i wouldn't pay for it that should been an unlockable item. No adjustable incar view, you should be able to zoom in closer to the windshield so driving feels more realistic.  I'd buy a game and pay 100 bucks for realisim and 50 for new land maps. Target market is young teens and highschool students

melvitron
melvitron

Its a great game. I have both horizon and 4. I will say the new rally expansion pack looks like a waste of money, although if you buy the season pass I think you get all the add ons for free. 

360bargains
360bargains

I'm a little late to the Forza Horizon party having only discovered it over the Christmas period, needless to say after playing the game I went and ordered it online straight away, just waiting for my copy to arrive before getting stuck in.Having previously played the other versions of Forza I wasn't sure what to expect with Horizon given that I love the realism and attention to detail especially in Forza 4 but I was surprised, it kind of reminds me of a more up to date and fun to play version of Need for Speed and I can see the reason for the Forza franchise taking a side step into this sub genre.

davidcc98
davidcc98

the game stinks. Forza Sport is a race simulation and I had hoped this one would be the same. Its nothing more than an arcade game with more emphasis on connecting with cartoon figures.

shaunmc
shaunmc moderator staff

Someone want a free Rally Pack DLC code? 

6RG7P-MC6RC-KMR3H-2G23K-XG4JZ

eliebaz
eliebaz

why cant people make a free roam simulation game is that too much to ask!

RussellGorall
RussellGorall

Horizon's singleplayer is incredibly corny. And short.

 

Seems like they threw some Dirt and MTV at the game and whatever stuck was put in the game.

 

 

TheLamaKnows
TheLamaKnows

My holy trinity of racers is Forza, F1, and Dirt. The only story in these games is building a career in a racing series for F1. Otherwise, it's just cars and driving, in games pretty well dedicated to something specific- in the belief that these are often the best examples of the genre. Games that try to encompass every facet of racing are usually too arcade for me. So I take my supercar and Le Mans racing from Forza, my drifting and rally driving from Dirt, and indulge my love of open wheel racing (as well as being an F1 junkie already) with the brilliant F1 series.

As an aside- why is there no decent motocross sim? Every MX game has moon gravity to do ridiculous stunts, has trucks, atvs, and buggies in them, and feature the most arcade of controls. With the popularity of MX/SX, I'm surprised no one makes a good sim of it. There is usually both MotoGP and SBK games for on-road simulation level bike racing, which is much more niche than motocross- and yet someone develops them every year. NASCAR, F1, and even Rally get yearly sim-level, detail obsessed games while I don't even think they make the arcade MX games at all anymore. Just wondering

lyhthegreat
lyhthegreat

is this or nfs most wanted a better game?i'm torn between the two of them.

yguanko
yguanko

its NFS all over again.. LAME!

darksonic140
darksonic140

The Bad

•Awkward storytelling •Disappointing online free-roaming •It's only for Xbox 360

teknic1200
teknic1200

why is it I keep feeling like this should have been an expansion to forza 4?

johnnyd23
johnnyd23

I think its a good first step into a semi arcade racer; fun,polished, and exciting. Although they can improve, I will definitely look forward to seeing them in a horizon sequel .

drivinggod2005
drivinggod2005

Not sure about this one tbh. I really liked the idea of Forza's physics and variety of cars available all wrapped up in an open world, but the problem with it for me is....IT'S WAY TOO SHORT!!! I've just completed the entire game 100% in just THREE DAYS!!! That's all it took me. Really should have added more content onto the disc release right from the off, and the fact that we have to pay for more content over the course of several months after the release of this game is atrocious and simply not good enough.

da2g
da2g

I just can`t stop playing this game - i was waiting for that kind of Forza - !! do not listen to all the critics this is pure fun and it will suck you in for days  !!!!

wickcolloran
wickcolloran

Uhg. What a let down. Why didn't they include an option to have the simulation (good) Forza driving physics? This game is ridiculous, you can do a whole race without ever having to touch the brakes. Forza made their name by being a no-nonsense driving game, why are they pissing off all their fans with this crap. It also could do without the lame cut scenes, but that's a pretty minor complaint compared to the gameplay.  

I_are_Cake
I_are_Cake

"Forza Horizon is a pick-up-and-play racing experience". So they "streamlined" (dumbed the fuck down) it?

stylee123
stylee123

forza horizon seems

 to be inspired by both tdu2 and forza 4. but it lacked the best of both worlds. for an instance, no online free roam and custom tuning? without these two stunning features theres not much for me to get excited about. but I will comment the minor likes of traveling music, open road and beautiful scenery taken from the test drive games. then using forza's driving physics makes car handling feel satisfying. however, I call it another unfinished game polished up ready to sell (what a tease).                                                                                                                          maybe I ask for too much but dear devs, if you can hear me out there, please accomplish the best ideas in your games and i promise you i will buy.

MADPADDY
MADPADDY

This is such a rip off of test drive,its a virtual copy with some forza cars and stuff added on.I cant believe nobody in any of the reviews ive read has mentioned it.

hwrdstrnsbals
hwrdstrnsbals

yah! more arcade racing.  i will play this game for sure.  as soon as I jab a fork into my eyeball.

TRC187
TRC187

I've never been against DLC's, especially with a game that is proven.

 

However with Forza Horizon, I'm a little shocked that they expect individuals to swallow a release day DLC on top of a $79.99 LE price, wow.. Also, the release day option for the $50.00 Season Pass. I just found this out after I paid the balance to my LE copy at Gamestop for the midnight release. It makes me want to credit that towards another game and tell T10 to stick it. Thats a bit ridiculous, especially when everyone is pretty leery about this game even being worth a ****..

RussellGorall
RussellGorall

PRE-RELEASE $50 DLC THAT THEY DIDN'T PUT ON THE DISC! Which means this should be reviewed as a $110 title, really. 

 

The only way to buy games like this is usually as a whole package, usually for a lesser price. 

ThatOneGuyLol
ThatOneGuyLol

seems like a pretty good games i guess ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hah ah ah ah ha ha ha

magicalclick
magicalclick

Consider buying this game at full price. Normally I wait for Forza to drop in price because I am not into pure sim. But, rally, pretty scenery, sim and not too sim physics. Just what I want !!!. Compare to pure sim, yes, it is not as sim. But, I have been waiting for something like this from MS for a long time.

Macrinus88
Macrinus88

This game is total poop, they should have released an option to import your entire Forza 4 car collection, just cars that you own into the game but you can't and that really pisses me off, while im not a big car game guy I would have got this if you could import forza 4 cars into the game forza 4 has way more cars then this game I wanna play forza 4 cars in an open world but iit does not have this featre so FUCK THIS GAME

white_wind
white_wind

Wasn't this supposed to be a Kinect seller? that's the only reason that made me curious about this game, well goo for the xbox fans, now back to my ps3

BigZman95
BigZman95

You see NFS is an unsavable descent into no-man's land so having said that this game looks like it can fit in nicely. And this was never meant to be Forza 4 (or 3 or 2 or 1). Yes it's an arcade spin off, but more money to the Forza series. And yes I agree with some of you, it is way too easy. With all assists off and the AI all the way up it's still about as hard as medium on Forza, and I play on almost the hardest.

DAP2010
DAP2010

@guily6669  @svenjl  hey man im wondering whether to get forza horizon or forza 4. i want to play split screen but i dont think horizon has it.....is forza 4 good enough to get then? or is horizon that much better that its worth it. its like wondering whether to get an older fifa when there is the new one already out....thanks man

bmart970
bmart970

 @eliebaz This is pretty close. I barely notice the difference between Forza 4 and Forza Horizon's gameplay when I play without some of the features that dumb it down (auto-braking), and Forza 4 had these parts as well. This game is as much a simulation as you make it.

TheLamaKnows
TheLamaKnows

 @RussellGorall I think calling Horizon a Forza game is false advertising. Forza and Gran Turismo imply sim level racing and Horizon just isn't. It's like a slightly tighter Grid. Even in the slowest, most basic rattletrap you will be drifting about like the road is covered in a fine layer of marbles. Because that's what this game wants to do- be the 'extreme' Mtv trendy game that appeals to the Formula Drift crowd more than the Formula One fans.

It's not a bad game at all, for what it is. It's an arcade racer with a tacked on storyline you really won't care a bit about if you are over the age of 12. It's as good as any Grid or Dirt entry, which is just fine. But there is pretty much zero reason to even call this game Forza.

RussellGorall
RussellGorall

 @lyhthegreat Most Wanted is a LOT better, in my opinion. Just a lot more fun, and a game you have no choice but to get better at. No sliders, just action.

BlueFoX950
BlueFoX950

 @lyhthegreat I've tried out both games and I've got to say that Horizon is ALOT better. I've always been a big fan of both series but NFS just hasn't been for me lately. I

Shauri026
Shauri026

Oops, Turn 10 is the developer behind Forza Horizons and not Take Ten Studios.

y3ivan
y3ivan

 @teknic1200 how so? its a different sub-genre. Even if its an expansion, i dont think anyone is going to completely install 9gb to their HDD.

joe_chebs
joe_chebs

 @wickcolloran Greetings! So I've not had a lot to do with Forza before but this looked quite cool and I'm keen to get a more realistic driving Sim. However your among a large amount who has stated otherwise. Is this release more like the Burnout Franchise or NFS Hot Pursuit? Feel like something more realistic than arcade.

forgottenvocal
forgottenvocal

 @MADPADDY 

*pats on the shoulder* I'm so sorry son... Test Drive was a hero to us all. But he's gone now. You... We... We just have to get on with our lives.

T_T

Macrinus88
Macrinus88

Have fun with your crap ps3, I have 360 and PS3 while I like PC gaming best because it is superior, PS3 is just total junk! it is only good for exclusive titles but other then that, PS Network is garbage, there are no fun multiplayer games which is why i hardly play it, Resistance/Killzone games are crap multiplayer but good single player, Drakes Fortune i didnt like its over rated trash @white_wind

eliebaz
eliebaz

 @bmart970 I appreciate the clarifaction thanks :) you see I haven't played this game but a lot of the comments suggested it played like an arcade rather than a simulator but now that I've heard that well i'm keen on picking the game up

wickcolloran
wickcolloran

 @joe_chebs If you want something in the sim vein go with Forza 4. I think it is the best racing game out there. There is a little bit of a learning curve, so be patient. Once you figure it out it is incredibly fun. Horizon feels  a lot like test drive unlimited or NFS. 

MADPADDY
MADPADDY

 @forgottenvocal Well its not gone because its alive they just changed the name to test drive unlimited 2 or in this case Forza horizon,P.s unless you're around 55yrs + old im not your son ;).

Forza Horizon More Info

  • Released
    • Xbox 360
    Forza Horizon is a pick-up-and-play racing experience with a festival atmosphere and the freedom of the open road.
    8.2
    Average User RatingOut of 553 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Forza Horizon
    Developed by:
    PLAYGROUND
    Published by:
    Microsoft Game Studios, Turn 10
    Genres:
    Simulation, Driving/Racing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Drug Reference, Language, Suggestive Themes