Thursday, 10 November 2016

In Australia the horizon is upside down

Forza Horizon 3

Platform tested: Xbox One

Playground Games seem to take each of the Forza franchises Horizon titles to a new level all together. From the yellow tinted, sunset mountains and pine forests of Colorado, to the sunny and rain drenched Mediterranean towns on coast of Nice in southern France, each title has been visually and geographically unique. The Horizon series offers a different, more arcade like take on the series compared to the simulator focused Motorsport part. A more light-hearted racing approach with the fantastic Forza  physics and gameplay feel retained, aiming for that road trip and summer festival feeling. Motorsport and Horizon alternating every second year to be on the Forza brands throne. Each alteration trying to outdo the last.

Forza Horizon 3 is no exception, it's one of those sequels that doesn't just settle for a small evolution, but goes for a revolution. A sequel that goes an extra hundred miles to ensure it beats it's predecessors in every way possible. FH3 achieves to put a smile on your face as you step on the gas in one of it's alarmingly powerful racing machines. While FH2 indeed was pretty to look at, with an entertaining and large game to boot, it lacked some of that magic that sparkled the first game. Luckily FH3 retains this glory and sets the bar for other Forza's really high to follow. Pack your bags then, we are heading for Australia!

FH3 introduces you to a wide range of vehicle types and race environments in it's introduction races, working almost like a tutorial. Slowly throwing more features, options and types of events at the player. This gradual approach to the huge freeroaming map is a nice touch and eases the jam packed content onto the player in a more controlled fashion. After some familiarisation to the map, events and icons on it, you'll be testing out new types of races, showcases and purchasing new wheels by the truck loads. Setting up you're own racing festival for the first time feels great and expanding onto other locations is even more so. The clear difference from a more controlled layout in FH2 to a very free and optional one in FH3 is very apparent. If it will suit everyone is another story, as some prefer maybe to be guided through a more constricted game structure, I found it refreshing and less intruding.

There's a better sense of progress this time around too, gone is the constant rotation of six race locations from FH2, a progress system that felt repetitive after many play hours. In FH3 there's a clear system of unlocking and progressing your career as a festival boss. Racing will constantly unlock new routes to have races on and you can switch up to drive any of them as you please or even set up your own championships by choosing multiple routes and car classes. You are never forced to play certain types of cars, though routes taking place on asphalt versus off-road will tempt you into other types of car classes. It's about choice and within that is the choice to keep yourself to cars you want to drive and you love. Don't like super cars like myself, just skip driving that car clas at all, it's fine and it's your choice to make!

Completing and winning races or PR events gives you fans, the more fans you gain the more you can expand each festival site or make new ones entirely. Each festival is located at distinctly different environmental locations. We have the orange sands of the outback, the dense and lush rainforests, a skyscraper covered city and a small surfing village by a huge beach. The variation of both terrain and visuals is incredible and a huge step up from the previous Horizon games. In fact I'd say the only open world game that challenges this level of environmental variation is Grand Theft Auto V.

Visually FH3 is just jaw dropping, not that FH2 wasn't so, but this is just taking it to another level entirely. Especially the far more visually varied approach, both in colours and types of environmental areas. The picture quality, running at a locked 30fps in 1080p on the Xbox One is razor sharp and clean. The stunning colours and sheer amount of detail in the surroundings will just take your breath away from the first time you press down the accelerator button. I'd say it's one of the visually most impressive racing games I've seen to date. Even as an open world game it triumphs many other such games in other genres as well, the draw distance and level of detail into it, is extremely impressive. I love that they've added custom number plates too, saves you from making them and adds a personal visual touch to each car! 

I can't really find anything that needs to be changed or done better in any major way. Sure I would maybe have liked more kits or bodyparts to be available for each car model to make them uniquely yours. A couple of more alterations on challenge types would sure have been nice too. Nothing, however, detracts away from how well polished package this racer is. Oh yeah, I'd like to play the game in 60fps too, but you'll need the PC version for that!

Which brings me to the fact that this title is the first of hopefully many Microsoft published titles that support cross playing between the Xbox One and PC! I've already tried it out a couple of times from my Xbox One in the full campaign coop mode, which by the way is an awesome addition, with a friend playing on a PC. It's an excellent way to share userbases and keep the amount of people playing the game higher. Regardless of console or PC as your main gaming platform, both can enjoy FH3 and play it together!

Possibly one of the best racing games I have played to date then, a must buy for any racing fan and casual racers alike. If there's one racing game you need to own this generation, this just became it. Even though you may hardly or even play racing games at all, I would recommend you give at least the demo a go, it really is unlike anything else and caters a lot for beginners. There's no game that rivals this games beautiful cruising, exploring and nature admiring feeling of racing a car. It's pure auto mobile bliss with tons of options to cater for all enthusiasts and my god, Australia is a beautiful country!



    + Plus points

    • Incredible detailed visuals and variety.
    • Much better progression and campaign mode compared to FH2.
    • Tons of races, events and challenges to drown hours and hours into.

    - Minus points

    • Would be nice with some more bodyparts for cars.
    • A few more challenge types maybe?
    • Where are my Porsches?!

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