I was given an hour and a half with Forza Horizon and their creative team, read my full impressions after the jump!
This was my ultimate fanboy moment, walking up to a generally inconspicuous building with some simple Forza Horizon branding. There’s something about signs on simple buildings I find really cool? Or maybe it’s just I knew that the game I’ve been trying NOT to think about would be waiting for me on the otherside? Whatever it was, I was excited.
This is what was waiting for me on the other side of the door, a handful of beautiful cars and a demo station where Dan Greenawalt and company would give us the initial demo of the game before he sent us off to play it all alone.
He goes on to explain the basic premise of the game and the brand; to turn car lovers into gamers and gamers into car lovers. Bridging that gap is something I personally believe the Forza brand has always done. I was a gamer before I was a car guy, considering I’ve been playing Forza Motorsport since the original. I remember it all too well, my Dad bought me an original Xbox and Forza Motorsport came with it. I tried to drift a Toyota Solara, and, I was not successful. Who would have thought 8 years later this is where I would be? More heavily invested in car culture and Forza then I would have ever imagined. Greenawalt goes on to talk about the game, and, addresses the car list. While some of the “grocery getters” are still there, there have less of an influence this time around. His point; if you’re going to be racing in an open world rally (e.g. Gumball 3000, Targa Trophy) would you rather run it in a Lamborghini Aventador or a Nissan Versa? You diehards can say all you want that’d you rather drive something like this in an S14, but I’d take the Aventador any day. He continues to discuss the point of the Horizon Festival, and, describes it as the centeral hub of Forza Horizon. This is where you buy new cars, upgrade (but not tune) paint your car (and YES matte is an option) and get yourself into general mayhem. He talks about the day/night cycle of the game. And, brings up a point that seems logical but I would have NEVER thought of. Is there street racing during the day? Yes. But at night is when it really goes down, they dynamic changes as the sun sets. The day to night transition is super smooth and it’s a beautiful game at night.
Does that mean the “grocery getters” are not included? Absolutely not. You’ll just find a larger selection of dream cars in Forza Horizon. It 100% works though. From here on out I will do my best to just give you a wall of text of my impressions broken down by section.
I don’t want to ruin any storyline (Yup, there actually is one and I was totally enjoying it) so I will try to just talk about game dynamics and experience.
Physics: For anyone worried about the physics being changed for Forza Horizon, I am happy to say it has not been changed and it feels exactly the same as 4. The thing to consider here is that there at 65 surface types here, so getting used to those is the challenge. I was able to kick out generally whatever car I was driving (including the VW Corrado I was driving for some time) with ease, and, it was tons of fun. The cars feel very true. Dan Greenawalt made the distinction that they know cars handle different, and, that’s the problem with other titles; there are considerable differences between a 1965 Mustang and a 1969 Camaro (I’m not saying either of these cars are in it, I didn’t check, just examples!) and therefore they should drive differently. Every car I drove in Forza Horizon drove differently, were weighted differently and it made it a unique experience per vehicle. To anyone worried about the physics; don’t. It’s a solid game with a solid physics engine to back it up.
Map: The overall size of the map is HUGE. I drove in a total of 4 races (2 Waypoint, 1 Canyon, 1 Offroad) but spent a solid 45 minutes just exploring the map. There’s something really satisfying about taking your mildly upgraded Subaru STI onto the freeway and letting it all out. It’s that thought of, wait, this is Forza and I’m on the freeway! Or I’m in the canyons! Or I’m in a golf course and I just shot myself out of the sandtrap! It’s really cool, and, I can’t wait to get a copy of my own. It’s really easily to get lost in just driving around.
Upgrades/Paint: As you can see above, I bought an STI for an offroad race. All of the basics upgrade options were there, (I couldn’t tell you if the RWD swap was there, I did not check) but, with the very exciting addition of matte as a paint option. In fact, I went to paint first and checked my options. There’s a solid hole in the ceiling from my head colliding with it when I jumped from my chair when I saw matte as an option. Vinyl groups are also transferable.
Car Selection: It’s definitely a more solid collection of cars you’d want to take out on the freeway and lose your license with! If I lost my license doing 100+ in the Element I’d be really sad. Cool? Not really. If I was doing it in a Aventador? Oh yeah, all in. But I better be doing 200+.
Overall Impression: It is another phenomenal installment from the Forza brand. No one has ever done this style game as well as Forza Horizon has. It has accomplished what no open world game has done before; solid physics, experience, soundtrack and car list. It’s going to be one hell of a time and I can put my seal of approval on it; you will love the crap out of Forza Horizon!
As an added bonus, here’s a video (No audio, sorry!) of me driving the STI around. I can’t say I’m a solid driver in it, but, I had a great time. I can’t wait for Forza Horizon!