Forza HorizonForza Horizon is a racing video game for Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game console. Developed principally by British games developer Playground Games in association with Turn 10 Studios, the game is a part of Turn 10's long-running Forza Motorsport franchise, but is considered more of a spin-off instead of the next true member of the series.
Forza Horizon GameplayForza Horizon is an open-road game based around a fictitious festival called the Horizon Festival, set in the state of Colorado, USA. The game incorporates many different gameplay aspects from previous Forza Motorsport titles, like the large variety of cars, specifically around 300 cars, realistic physics and high definition graphics. The aim is to progress through the game by means of obtaining wristbands via winning races, while also increasing their popularity level by driving fast, destroying property, and performing other stunts and antics. Horizon is set to feature the physics of Forza Motorsport 4, which have been optimised to work on the 65 variants of terrain said to be present in the game. Players can drive off-road in select areas, while others are limited by guardrails or other means.
Multiple race types are included, from drift to rally and point-to-point races. AI traffic will be present on the roads under single player, which provides a new dynamic to the Forza racing system. Players may also challenge other Horizon festival drivers they encounter in a one-on-one race to a given location. The location is random each time, and the AI have the ability to use shortcuts to their advantage. Races will take place at different times throughout the day/night cycle included in the game, including night races. A skill system is implemented in the game; players earn street cred during races by driving aggressively. Acts such as drifting, jumping over obstacles and getting a car on two wheels all contribute to the cred. These can be chained together in a combo, which in turn affects the money players are paid at the end of a given race. Cred also affects a player's popularity level in the game. As a player's popularity increases new special events are unlocked, such as races against helicopters and planes.
Speed traps are present in the game, and players can challenge each other for the top speed in a given area. Cameras record player times, which can then be shared among rivals. Those rivals can then attempt to beat the shared time. A photography mode is also included. In addition to races, players can search for barn find cars—antique cars that have been stored away for long periods of time—have them restored, and add them to their car collection.
ReceptionForza Horizon received favourable reviews from critics. Aggregate review websites GameRankings and Metacritic report scores of 86.19% and 85/100 respectively. Scores range from a two perfect scores given by Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb and David Wahlström of Eurogamer Sweden to a 60% approval from Phillip Kollar of Polygon. The majority of scores were of an 80% approval rating or higher. It ranked in the top 20 Xbox LIVE titles for the first two months following its release.
Eurogamer deputy editor Oli Welsh called Horizon "a big, exciting game that finally brings car enthusiasts together with the realistic open roads they crave." Welsh noted that the control scheme and realistic handling allows players to enjoy driving even the slowest of cars. Games Radar's Sterling McGarvey felt that sometimes the cars lacked precise handling, but gave high marks for the game's environment and vast amount of activities to do. Matthew Kato of Game Informer praised the game's visuals. He gave high marks for the dynamic day/night cycle and the detailed environment and vehicles. He also praised the online multiplayer, including the game's Cat and Mouse multiplayer chase mode. Kato did note that much of the open world is blocked by guardrails, thus blocking a player's ability to chart their own paths during events such as a race against a plane.
In a more critical review Polygon's Phillip Kollar noted that he felt the open-world environment felt empty. He further criticised the game's aggressive and expensive downloadable content plan. He stated that while the content is not forced on the player "it feels like the game is desperate to squeeze your wallet empty." Kollar conceded that Forza Horizon "is at its best when it drops the sim pretense and embraces its arcade nature".
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