Forza Horizon Preview
Forza Horizon has been a somewhat unknown quantity since its announcement back in March this year. A tease here, a tweet there. It wasn’t until E3 did we finally get a proper look behind developer Playground Games’ steel curtain. And what did we see? Forza meets Test Drive Unlimited with a hint of Burnout.
Yes Forza Horizon will shake of the track based simulation stylings of its forefathers and move firmly out on to the streets (and dirt roads) of a digitally referenced Colorado. The Playground Games team are taking on a very large project indeed. Expectations are incredibly high for the spin-off title. Turn 10, the Forza creators(busy at work on Forza 5 no doubt), have every confidence in them. After playing the game I can see why.
Ok, so this will be a rapid preview impression. Due to the fact that I played two races of the game, both taking about two or three minutes each and then it was all over – nothing else to see here! So, what I do know.
The game looks incredible. The almost photo realistic vehicles used in the main Forza series as well created here out on the street. The game moves with an incredible turn of pace and the whole thing looks gorgeous be it stood still or running at breakneck pace.
Handling too has been tweaked to allow easy navigation of the more twisty turny street venues. The methodical and well balanced sim handling can be felt under the hood but the exterior is almost pure arcade in places. So much so that at more than a few occasions I thumbed the A button expecting a Burnout/Need for Speed Hot Pursuit style boost to activate – only to come to a grinding halt as I applied the brakes. Don’t get me wrong this doesn’t drive the same as an arcade title like Burnout or Need for Speed. No indeed it still requires well thought out precision for tight cornering; it’s just a little more forgiving is all.
The street race portion that I played was set through from wooded areas in a lush and fertile part of the state. It reminded me greatly of playing Test Drive Unlimited 2 just with a much better level of detail – both graphically and handling wise.
Forza Horizon is, outside of Turn 10 themselves, in very safe hands even though Playground Games are a start-up company. Based in Leamington Spa in the UK the team has come together from ex-staffers of Criterion (Burnout/NFS), Codemasters (F1/Colin McRae, GRID, Dirt etc) and Bizarre Creations (Project Gotham Racing/Blur).
Like I say I played about five or six minutes at most but from what I played this is looking like an interesting step to the side for the Forza franchise and a worthy contender for your racer cash. The team are bringing what they know best (street and off road racing) to the series and layering it over the Turn 10 physics and graphics engines.
Forza Horizon launches exclusively on Xbox 360 23rd October 2012.