Forza Horizon

by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 80/100

Forza Horizon Female Gamers Review
Developer: Playground Games and Turn 10
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Format Reviewed: Xbox360
Reviewed by: Wencke Schuncken

What does it take to become a famous racing dude? Does the main male character have the potential to become the star of Forza Horizon? And what was he thinking showing up with that 1995 Volkswagen Corrado VR6 at the Horizon Fesival? That’s not a big impression. But before putting my gaming fingers in the L position in front of my head, it’s better to grab that controller and try to make the best of that character which desperately wants tomake name and fame in Forza Horizon.

 Forza Horizon Female Gamers Review

It seems that the developers of Forza Horizon really wanted to celebrate the 5th installment in the Forza franchise, and why not doing it in the style with a festival? While driving to the festival the player gets a good vibe, something you want to be part of, a place to celebrate, and the place to become a legend. As a new-bee everything is impressive; the design, the environments the cars, the attitude of the competitors and those who already made fame. With a little bit of luck a level 1 wristband is offered to participate in the first available races.

A map shows the starting points for the races, set in Colorado, USA. The map is quite large, but with the”location / navigation lock” the shortest, fasted way to get there is provided. A female voice provides information in which direction to drive and the colored line visible on the road also indicates that the player is going in the right direction. This colored line also indicates when to push the pedal down and when to slow down / use the breaks. Green line is keep on stepping on the pedal, orange and red line is the time to slow down and use the brakes. Not only indicates the map that the environment is huge, but also while driving from one race to another can be quite a distance, even a challenging distance. It’s not required to lock a location and follow the direction. Free roaming is possible as Forza Horizon is an open-world game, no restrictions on where to go and how to reach the destination of your choice.

 Forza Horizon Female Gamers Review

Cruising around can be fun to check out the cars behavior, to enjoy the beautiful environment, to break speed traps records and even to discover the barns storing special cars (ok, restoration is needed before the player can take them for a ride). But the aim is to progress through the game by means of obtaining colorful wristbands by driving fast, destroying property, winning races and other driving antics. The wristbands can be compared to levels as a new wristband opens new Horizon racing events. The ultimate goal is to reach the 7th wristband, yes the golden one!

You may think that racing is just racing, but that opinion changes after playing Forza Horizon. Different types of race types are included, from drift to rally and point-to-point races. AI traffic will be present on the roads, which provides a new dynamic to the Forza racing system. Players may also challenge other Horizon festival drivers they encounter in a one-on-one race to a given location. The location is random each time, and the AI has the ability to use shortcuts to their advantage. Races will take place at different times throughout the day/night cycle included in the game, including night races. A skill system is implemented in the game; players earn street credits during races by driving aggressively. Acts such as drifting, jumping over obstacles and getting a car on two wheels all contribute to the credibility. These can be chained together in a combo, which in turn affects the money players are paid at the end of a given race. Credits also affect a player's popularity level in the game. As a player's popularity increases new special events are unlocked, such as races against balloons, helicopters and planes.

 Forza Horizon Female Gamers Review

Besides the races already mentioned, there are some more fun features to do such as breaking speed records on certain roads, recorded by cameras. Data and records will be shared to other players and Xbox Live friends. Destroy a maximum of 100 upgrade signs which can be found aside the roads to get one percent discount per upgrade sign destroyed. Also PR activities are both useful as a nice distraction from the ‘normal” races. The player needs to drive a certain distance in a set timeframe with an uncommon car, or drive against a balloon, helicopter or airplane and last but not least the player needs to bring a car without a scratch to a certain location and take a perfect picture from the car with lots of nature surroundings to complete the PR activity. These are really rewarding and a distraction from the “real deal” races.

The festival has several important spots a player will visit often to buy new cars, to upgrade and to spray the cars that are own in the color or design of choice (be creative!), to collect new wristbands and to check out if there is new content in the marketplace or to challenge other live players around the planet. Note that a gold Xbox live membership is needed to make use of the online events and features.

 Forza Horizon Female Gamers Review

The game incorporates many different gameplay aspects from previous Forza Motorsport titles, like the large variety of cars, realistic physics and high definition graphics. Horizon is set to feature the physics of Forza Motorsport 4, which have been optimized to work on the 65 variants of terrain. Players are able to drive anywhere their cars can reach, such as fields and plains though many roads use guardrails or fences to confine the player. Make sure to select the right car for the specific terrain in the racing events. Some events are only accessible if the right car is owned, such as a mini-cooper (new style or original is up to the players taste and money).

From a female point of view, one of the first important female characters is Alice Harp which can be seen on the screenshot below. She notices some potential in the players driving skills and is also responsible for handing out wristbands and giving a helpful hand where to go and what to do. Sometimes she seems to be the personal motivator and coach. While racing DJ Holly Cruz is playing her favorite songs on the radio and she has taste! It’s a pleasure cruising around Colorado listening to the best videogame DJ of 2012. Another interesting female character is one of the important racing stars in Forza Horizon is Ramona Cravache, the off-road queen. You will meet her in several races but the most important one is the one-on-one race where she is willing to give away her big Ford F-150 SVT Raptor that is if the player can win.

 Forza Horizon Female Gamers Review

By now you probably noticed that Forza Horizon has an amazing lot to offer for racing fans. The Horizon Festival seems to attract a lot of gamers who probably also will have a hard time laying the controller aside. Working in combination with this central racing festival, there is something of a storyline pulling things together. A story about a newbie making name and fame by racing his ass off for hours and hours, proving that he has what it takes to be the top attraction of the Forza Festival. This isn’t a standard racing for credits, get a better car and race again for more credits. This game brings a feeling closer to racing arcade games, like Need for Speed 2 or Burnout Paradise. The driving experience is incredible, but there's way more personality and way more variety as ever experience in a racing game. With the multiplayer / Xbox Live races and the downloadable content in the near future, this game certainly will see you coming back to play again and again.