This past Black Friday, while tech geeks were lining up for high dollar tv’s and low dollar laptops, both Jerry and I had our eyes peeled for deals on the recently introduced Forza Horizon. When it finally came down to 75% off, Jerry couldn’t pass it up. At $15, it would be a steal even with mediocre reviews, but Horizon was getting wonderful comments from all ends of the globe. So we hunkered down after the LA Auto Show for a weekend of gaming, with me leaving early and unimpressed. Read on to find out why! (Warning: some spoilers ahead).
When the game begins, you’re given a VW Corrado as your first car. You’re told that you need to make it to a certain checkpoint to grab one of the last wristbands, allowing you to participate in the Horizon Festival. So you barrel across the Colorado landscape, dodging real life traffic along the way. After making it into the Festival and doing a race or two, you’re invited to compete in a Showcase race, where you take a 1971 Mustang Boss 429. You race across a canyon against a P-51 Mustang, Top Gear style. When you inevitably win, they give you that car too.
Does that sound as disjointed to you as it does to me? For example, why did they just give you a car to begin with, instead of just giving you money to buy what you wanted? And why would they let you win a car almost immediately after they just gave you one? This is the theme of the entire game – it’s just way too easy and superficial. We even found that the highly touted “barn finds” were completely pointless. All of the barn finds came early on and in quick succession, and all you had to do was find a location – you were not involved at all in the vehicle’s restoration process. There are so many missed opportunities with that feature.
The game developers also made it known that Forza Horizon uses the same physics engine as Forza 4 – we call BS on that. Horizon’s physics are much more arcade-like and closely resemble something out of the Need For Speed series. Unlike Forza 4, we never found a car that was uncontrollable, even though real life roads should be much tougher to race on than full blown racetracks. Even when you get off the pavement, the steering seems to work pretty darn good. Speaking of pavement, we have no clue why the developers put in those dirt roads for a Ferrari F40 to drive on. It’s complete nonsense. Finally, unless you flip the thing, there is no drivability penalty for damage to your car during a race. It just keeps on keeping on, at optimum power and handling.
If you’re deciding whether to buy Forza Horizon, we suggest you save your money. It isn’t challenging and it isn’t nearly long enough. We expected much more from the creators of the first serious challenge to Gran Turismo, and hope that Forza Horizon isn’t a sign of things to come from them.