REVIEW: Forza Horizon (360)

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When one thinks of the Forza brand, one conjures up unique destinations, famous tracks and more cars than you would find in a mall parking lot. Instead, “Forza Horizon” looks to conjure up a new definition for the franchise, and that is wide open roads and a fusion of music, cars and showmanship. While the game delivers on that promise, it never quite shoehorns its way into the true definition of a Forza game. Although, in this case, that is not a bad thing.

“Forza Horizon” centralizes its racing to the plains of the great state of Colorado, where you are attending the Horizon festival. The Horizon festival is where the best racers meet, to compare their cars and see who is top dog in the racing world. Eschewing the normal pick a race menu screen, “Forza Horizon” opens up the world with 400+ miles of Colorado for you to explore. The options are open, as you could drive to a race, or just cruise the open road. Maybe you want to challenge one of the many Horizon participants as you cruise. It is all up to you.

As you race, you are not only ranking yourself up in the Horizon race charts, but you’re matching stats against your peers and friends as well. “Forza Horizon” always lets you know when you have broken someone’s speed time, or when they have beaten yours. It also lets you challenge your friend’s ghost laps in a race when you complete an event, to gain more prestige and of course, bragging rights.

While this new type of Forza experience is fun and a nice change of pace, it has one slight itch that does not want to go away, no matter how hard the game tries to scratch at it. It comes down to the race engine. Forza games are defined by their performance and realistic feel. Instead of feeling tight and proper, “Forza Horizon” feels a bit more floaty and mushy. It is less about the realism and more about the experience. Well, the experience and lots of dub step… it just never feels like a true Forza title.

Kinect is back for a second go around in this Forza, but it is more about voice recognition than driving, as you can talk to your GPS device and issue other shortcut commands. It works well enough and never impedes the game process, which is precisely what you want from a Kinect enhanced title.

Even though it never seems to fit the true definition of a Forza title, Forza Horizon is a top notch game that looks to revive the idea of cars as a cultural phenomenon and not just an objectification of speed. With fresh music, glitzy cut scenes and miles of open road to explore, “Forza Horizon” is a great pick up even with its minor flaws.

–Joseph Haygood, Guest Reviewer

This review is based on product supplied by the publisher.