I need to finally admit something, and that is I am not a car person. At no point in my life have I ever wanted to know about alternators, shocks, and everything else in-between. However, as much as I don’t understand the love of cars, I do have a fondness of racing games. I know that it’s strange, but I want to see them in action, and control them instead of taking the time to learn about them. There haven’t been a lot of racing games that I play countless hours of, and the last time I had a game like that was two years ago.
The Forza franchise has been one of the go to racing series for a while now, and as I like the racing sims from Microsoft and Turn 10, I especially love the Horizon series for its arcade element. I didn’t think that they could top themselves after the second Horizon entry that took us across southern Europe, but somehow developer Playground Games manages to do so as they shift their focus to Australia.
The obvious takeaway from the start of the game is that Forza Horizon 3 is the best looking game in the series. While the characters and NPG’s may not be the best, the setting and the cars are what is the focus. The detail of each of the vehicles is just as impressive as the last Forza entry, but while the feel of the cars while driving is different enough for an arcade racer, sim racing fans will probably notice that the detail in handling isn’t as apparent. The rain effects are also something to behold as it hits closer to reality; the drops will stream off your windshield in a more realistic manner that can obscure your view.
Drivatars have become a staple to the Forza franchise, and that holds true for Horizon 3. However, this time around the Drivatars are not only there for you as a challenge, but they exist to give you the opportunity to hire and fire your friend’s Drivatars based on their performance. The Blueprint element in Horizon is added as a way to set up how the events will be played within Horizon, and the corresponding areas. You can literally set up your own gameplay and share it with your friends by changing the route for a particular event, the time of day and weather conditions, the eligible cars, and event restrictions. If you play your friends Blueprint you will earn rewards as well.
The overall goal of Horizon 3 is to get new fans that will allow you to open up new events in different areas, and some within existing ones in Australia. You do this by racing, drifting, destroying property, performing stunts, and so on. While these are fun in itself, most of these are things that have been done in the past. While these are still fun, I wished there was a new element added where I wasn’t just trying to smash signs or discover new roads.
Like its predecessor, one of Horizon 3’s best features besides its driving is the soundtrack. During the campaign, you will be given the option to unlock new radio stations. I have always thought that the Horizon series always had the best soundtracks, and it is no different here. I found myself driving sometimes just to hear the music on my radio that you can flip through and there always seemed like there was something I loved to listen to. The choice of listening to older DMX all the way to more new alternative bands like CVURCHES, and The 1975, while discovering even more obscure bands like The Knocks was a blast. Every two years I change up my personal track list home because of the Horizon series.
I don’t know what a differential is when it comes to mechanics, and while I love the original Forza series, I never was savvy enough with automotive jargon to understand exactly how much tuning was needed for a car. Fortunately, I didn’t need to as there is the auto tune option in the original series. Forza Horizon 3 is not much different as you have the option of paying a certain amount of credits to upgrade your car. However, the upgrading in Horizon is not near the kind of tuning you do in the regular Forza series. I could tell the difference immediately when I messed up something with my car when I manually tuned it. With Horizon the difference is not as apparent. While this didn’t make or break the game for me, fans of the original series may feel a little alienated. Having said that, Horizon 3 is an arcade racer so the drastic change of a car and its setting may not be as big of a deal.
Typically, when I play games I play to finish of all the objectives or races and move on to the next game. With Horizon 3 I have no problem just driving around Australia so I can challenge other cars that pass me, beat my own stunt scores, or to see how fast I can drive through an area. With the music set up high, and the beautiful atmosphere to look at regardless if it’s in the Outback of near the ocean with its beautifully rendered water, Forza Horizon 3 is a must play for arcade racing fans, or just racing fans in general. Racing simulation enthusiasts may not appreciate it as much, but gamers that want a fun game probably will.
There are not enough of these games, and when I said that the last arcade racer I loved was released two years ago, it was the last Forza Horizon entry. If I have to wait another two years for this type experience to occur, then so be it. Arcade racers should look at the Horizon and aspire to be just as great or better. I just hope it doesn’t take two years to do so.