While the mainline Forza Motorsport series is the one for serious gearheads, spinoff Forza Horizon is the one for those who crave freestyle improvisation and the thrills of the open road. The setting moves to the Australian countryside for Forza Horizon 3, making for the ideal playground to cause all sorts of on and off-road mayhem. Dusty, half-paved highways are lined with fence posts and brittle shacks begging to be crashed through, and creeping vegetation crawls around every corner. This is brake pedal optional racing that favors cutting loose and making daring moves rather than playing it steady and safe. To put it simply, this is heaven for speed demons.
Game: Forza Horizon 3
Consoles: Xbox One (reviewed), PC
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Playground Games
Release Date: September 27
The narrative poses you as an up-and-coming driver trying to make a name for yourself by exploring new territories, setting up exhibitions and rounding up drivers to stage races for cash prizes. The better you do, the more fans and endorsements you line up, clearing the way to unlock more of the 350-plus available vehicles and accompanying upgrades. Everything you do — be it narrowly missing head-on collisions in open-road traffic, drifting around a corner or launching off bunny hills to catch some quick air — racks up more experience points, triggering notifications that track your steady path toward setting up your empire.
Forza Horizon 3 is just as much of a place to hang out as it is an ongoing series of challenges. Social aspects are integrated into the fabric of the game, with other drivers cruising along side roads you can hit up for pick-up races. You also run into simulated “drivatars” of those on your friends list. The AI adapts the bots to your pals’ driving tendencies, making them drive in realistically human manners rather than rigid, preset algorithms. As is always the case with Forza games, you can design, upload and download your own designs and tuning setups. The relentless pursuit of perfection means there is always some tiny way you can improve your setup to help you grasp your dreams of roadway domination.
It’s no surprise that Forza Horizon 3 is a knockout visually, because games on both sides of the series have been stunners since the Xbox 360 games, and took a quantum leap once the Xbox One era rolled along. The visually fidelity hasn’t noticeably increased in this outing, but that’s mainly because there wasn’t much room to improve from the high bar set by the predecessors. What sets the new game apart from the others is the setting. It’s hard to think of any other game that has come close to grasping the breathtaking visuals of the Aussie wilderness. The amount of detail developers funneled into the sweeping vistas is remarkable, with screensaver-worthy shots waiting for you around every hairpin turn.
Some racing fanatics dismiss Horizon games as pandering, arcadey versions of the “real” game meant for casual players. While Forza Horizon 3 makes no bones about open attempts to be accessible to all gamers, it has enough of the mainline series’ integrity to serve the needs of the most serious racers. While the offline-mode rewind ability nerfs the difficulty, it also saves quite a bit of frustration and repetition, and no one is forcing you to use it. The craftsmanship that went into every node of code in this glorious racer is a side effect of genuine love of the material felt by everyone with a hand in creating the game. If you have an Xbox One and want the best racing game the system has to offer, you can’t sleep on this one. These rough Aussie roads pulse with racing passion.
Forza Horizon 3 Reviews Around The Web:
“It looks simply jaw dropping.” –Pocket Lint
“While we sit firmly on the casual side of the fence, there’s a lot here for petrolheads to love too.” –Digital Spy
“Playground Games creates the most fun racing available on the market.” –N4G
Forza Horizon 3 Screenshots
The publisher provided a review copy.
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