Console racers are quite firmly split into two sections -
simulations and arcade racers.
Always have been, always will be.
For: Xbox 360
From: Playground Games
Four and a half stars (out of five)
You either want to drive round fantasyland with your hair on
fire in an out-of-the-box drift car - so you choose a Need
for Speed game - or you want to be able to tweak every
gear and race on GPS perfect tracks - so you choose a Gran
Turismo, F1 or Forza game.
Decision made. Easy.
has put a little spanner in the
Now I will get it out straight away - I am a Forza
fan, have been since its earliest Dreamcast incarnation.
Don't get me wrong, I like a good arcade racer, Need for
Speed Most Wanted is also a favourite, but the precision
and beauty of Forza have always been just my cup of
So when I heard the pre-launch rumours that Playground was
turning the latest game in the Forza series away from
the normal genre to appeal to arcade racer fans I was a bit
The setting is new - the game is based round the titular
Horizon music/car festival, and there are no
recognised tracks - the game is based in an open world
stylised version of Colorado, but from the moment you are put
into a car, the handling and physics are pure Forza.
Sure the crash physics are softer than Forza 4 and the
handling a bit more forgiving, but both changes suit the game
- and you will not complain when you are being forced off the
track by an angry AI driver.
You, as a fresh-faced young racer just qualified to
compete, have to work your way up the ranks to drive against
the big boys.
This is done by driving round to various tracks, roads or
street circuits and competing in events to build up your
experience and, as important, your bank balance so you can
buy and upgrade your vehicles. In between, you are free to
drive round looking for hidden cars, taking up other players'
challengers or competing in the excellent showcase events
which act as a great change from the norm.
The story is not JK Rowling, but it is good enough to keep
you interested, as are the various online and multiplayer
options. And from the festival music to the roar of the
various engines, the sound is also superb.
However, the icing on the already impressive cake is the way
the game looks. From the fireworks at night to the sprawling,
ever-changing landscape the whole thing looks stunning -
there are no better looking racers out there.
Now I am not saying this game is all things to all men, but
it is getting close. If you want it to be an arcade racer,
then it is, but you can also do the full
customisation/simulation stuff as well.
I love this game - it has stopped me playing Halo 4
and Fifa 13, and I cannot give it much more praise