For those not in the know, Forza Horizon is an open-world racing game largely based on previous Forza Motorsport titles, and arguably the best racing game of 2012 (read El33tonline’s Forza Horizon review). Forza Horizon was developed by Playground Games, which comprises employees who formerly worked at various studios renowned for earlier racing titles and series such as Project Gotham Racing, Driver, Colin McRae: Dirt, Colin McRae Rally, Race Driver: Grid and Burnout.
Turn 10 Studios is well known for adding content to their Forza titles but rather than simply adding another batch of new cars, Playground has added a whole new expansion to the Forza Horizon – the Rally Expansion Pack – which lets you compete in the Horizon Rally Championship with new tracks, new upgrades and new cars.
In the Rally Expansion for Forza Horizon, Gameplay is fast-paced and replaces the open-world for a more classic event-based environment. You start off with the traditional showdown event and have to quickly adapt to the off-road terrain. This is a full rally experience with twenty stages over seven different events, but is not the easiest and may be a steep learning curve for newcomers with rough terrain and obstacles like rocks and trees along the routes.
The expansion adds a co-driver which helps you by calling out upcoming turns and possible hazards, but don’t be surprised at the odd chirp about your performance at the end of a stage, and the high quality scenery we have become used to from Horizon is here, too. The stages tucked away in the corners of the Horizon map feature beautiful canyons and even a stage through forests.
The Rally Expansion Pack can be very challenging at times and learning the fastest way around corners can take some time to perfect, as does the art of making a car appear to simply flow around sharp corners. There is a definite reward for driving the correct line on stages as simply cutting every corner or running wide off the road will not always improve your speed.
The add-on includes five iconic rally cars, namely the 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti, the 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR, the 1982 Lancia 037 Stradale, 1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth and the 1992 Toyota Celica GT-Four RC ST185. For the achievement hunters there are ten new Achievements and some new multiplayer events to test your skills against friends and foes.
The crash realism and car damage is lacking dramatically from other rally games, though, and hitting a tree or a large boulder at full speed merely stops you in your place and adds a dent to your bumper, and might even shatter your windows – hardly the physics we have become used to in other Forza titles. The game also lacks details: There is no physical co-driver in the car with you, for example. There is simply one person in the car with magical voices giving you commands while you proceed through stages. These shortcomings will most likely not satisfy hardcore rally enthusiasts and there are also no real racing teams, drivers or World Rally Championship race courses.
The Forza Horizon Rally Expansion Pack is by no means a recreation of an existing rally game but rather a well-designed and fun add-on with the best possible integration into an existing, great game environment. This may expose rally to a large target audience more than a hardcore title would and this is perhaps part of the reason for its existence: To enjoy more than just road cars.
This is an ideal entry point to rallying and aimed at more casual drivers as the stages are more forgiving with longer stretches and more medium flowing corners. This is a great expansion, but in my mind falls short of value for the 1600 MS Points asking price.