Forza Horizon Hands-on (Xbox360)

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I was one of a few hundred people who had a first glance at Forza Horizon at rAge this year, but when I heard that the game will focus on festival racing and actually have a bit of a story, I started to lose hope in the franchise – I need to have a dedicated realistic racer on Microsoft’s little box of tricks.

Forza Horizon Screenshot 1

The Forza stand was brilliantly decorated with a real Ferrari racer as driven by Mr. Scheckter, nephew of the F1 champion Jody Scheckter. Eight monitors were lined back to back at Forza Horizon’s setup at rAge, and you could sit down and enjoy a single race in total seclusion, thanks to the great headsets available.

The quick Forza Horizon demo saw me starting a race from a roadside diner and tasked me with beating my competitors to the starting line of the Horizon festival for a place in the main events. I ran over to my Dodge Viper SRT and jumped in behind the wheel, before being shoved into a race that had a very Need for Speed feel to it.

Forza Horizon Screenshot 1

The first thing that hit me is the beauty of the game. The cars are fantastic and glisten in the sun. Trees sway in the breeze and grass can almost be seen to grow. The world really is fantastic looking, but I didn’t have any chance to look at the world around me as I sped through it at 200mph. The open road beckons and my right foot (or in this case, my right finger) obliged. The roar of the engines rung through the headsets and the car lurched forward so fast that the motion blurring kicked in straight away.

Forza Horizon has its foundations in Turn 10’s sublime circuit racer, Forza Motorsport, but the new developers at the helm of Forza Horizon have used the great physics and graphics to create something far better than I imagined. The game handled well, the car and world looked fantastic, and the roster is adequately bursting at the seams – but what it’s not is a technical racer. Throwing your car around the turns felt heavy enough to border on being ultra realistic, yet often a bump and a shove had almost no effect, bringing the game back to arcade levels.

Forza Horizon Screenshot

We can rest assured that Forza Horizon is a very good game that doesn’t fall down into the arcade kart racing realms, but it doesn’t quite get up to the ultra simulation levels of it’s parents. What we have here, seems to be the perfect balance between the two, wrapped up in one of the best looking racers ever.

I, for one, am looking forward to trying out the full game on October 26th!