Forza Horizon

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Forza Horizon
Forza Horizon boxart.jpg
Developer(s) Playground Games
Turn 10 Studios
Publisher(s) Microsoft Studios
Series Forza Motorsport
Platform(s) Xbox 360
Release date(s) NA 23 October 2012[1]
AUS 2012102323 October 2012
JP 2012102525 October 2012
EU 2012102626 October 2012
Genre(s) Racing
Mode(s) Single-player, online multiplayer

Forza Horizon is a racing video game for Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game console. Developed principally by British games developer Playground Games in association with American developer Turn 10 Studios, the game is a part of Turn 10's long-running Forza Motorsport franchise, but is considered more of a spin-off instead of the next true member of the series.[2] A sequel, Forza Horizon 2, was released on 30 September 2014.

Gameplay[edit]

Forza Horizon features an updated version of the Forza Motorsport 4 engine. It also features new challenges. Here a Ferrari F40 races a biplane in a point-to-point race.

Forza Horizon is an open-road game based around the fictitious Horizon Festival, a street racing event set in the state of Colorado, USA. The game incorporates many different gameplay aspects from previous Forza Motorsport titles, like the large variety of cars, specifically around 300 cars, realistic physics and high definition graphics. The aim is to progress through the game by means of obtaining wristbands via winning races, while also increasing their popularity level by driving fast, destroying property, and performing other stunts and antics. Horizon is set to feature the physics of Forza Motorsport 4, which have been optimised to work on the 65 variants of terrain said to be present in the game. Players can drive off-road in select areas, while others are limited by guardrails or other means.[3]

Multiple race types are included, from drift to rally and point-to-point races. AI traffic will be present on the roads under single player, which provides a new dynamic to the Forza racing system.[3] Players may also challenge other Horizon festival drivers they encounter in a one-on-one race to a given location. The location is random each time, and the AI have the ability to use shortcuts to their advantage.[4] Races will take place at different times throughout the day/night cycle included in the game, including night races.[3] A skill system is implemented in the game; players earn street cred during races by driving aggressively. Acts such as drifting, jumping over obstacles and getting a car on two wheels all contribute to the cred. These can be chained together in a combo, which in turn affects the money players are paid at the end of a given race.[5] Cred also affects a player's popularity level in the game. As a player's popularity increases new special events are unlocked, such as races against helicopters and planes.[5]

Speed traps are present in the game, and players can challenge each other for the top speed in a given area. Cameras record player times, which can then be shared among rivals. Those rivals can then attempt to beat the shared time.[5] A photography mode is also included.[3] In addition to races, players can search for barn find cars, have them restored, and add them to their car collection.[4]

Development[edit]

Forza Horizon was developed by UK-based Playground Games, which is composed of 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.[2] When asked about Playground Games' involvement, Dan Greenawalt, the head of Turn 10 Studios, said, "I wouldn't trust this partner as much as I do if I didn't expect them to surprise me and surprise our players. I have respect for their ability to come up with great ideas. So I think yes, they are challenged by the customers the same way we are to surprise them with innovation. That's how they see themselves, that's how we see them, it's how they see us. It's really a shared goal."[6]

Though Forza Horizon is in the hands of an outside developer, Dan Greenawalt believes such risks are needed to meet the vision for the franchise. "Of course it's a risk," Greenawalt told VideoGamer.com. "But some of the best racing games in the last twenty years have come out of the UK racing game development studios, and that's Black Rock, and Slightly Mad, and Bizarre Creations, and even Criterion Games. There's a whole lot of these great racing game developers in the UK, and the talent Playground Games has attracted and distilled down into this team gives me great faith."[7]

Development of the environment began with research on almost 30 real-world locations. After initial research, creative director Ralph Fulton stated that there was "one clear winner", Colorado, USA.[4] Trips were made to the state to take footage and over 50,000 still photos for reference. The goal, stated Fulton, was to "build our own take on Colorado".[4] Initial world design began with a 2D layout which then evolved into multiple areas created with 3D models. The game features several types of landscape including snow-covered mountain roads, plains, foothills, and an area inspired by Colorado's Red Rocks Park; all are featured in a fictitious form alongside the game's Horizon festival location. The developers stated that finding ways to transition between these areas was one of the greatest challenges.[4] Flora and fauna are also visible in the game for increased realism and depth.[4]

Extremely rare unicorn cars such as the Ferrari Dino 246 were added to increase game's community presence; developer Playground Games awards these rare cars to players for community involvement.

A partial reveal of the vehicle list began on Forza's Twitter and Facebook pages on 23 August 2012.[8][9] The list includes a 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge, a 2012 Hennessey Venom GT, and a Lamborghini Countach LP500 QV, among many others.[10] A season pass was confirmed for future downloadable content on 25 September 2012. It allows players to download the first six car packs, consisting of six cars each, gives players five exclusive cars, and will grant access to the game's rally racing expansion pack slated for 18 December 2012 release.[10][11] Vehicle selections vary between monthly installments, and each vehicle can be purchased individually if players so choose. These vehicles include the Lamborghini Aventador J, Gumpert Apollo Enraged, Alfa Romeo 8C Spider, 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Halo Edition and the 1993 McLaren F1. Unicorn cars — cars that are rare and unobtainable through conventional means — can be given to players by the developer for community involvement in both in and out-of-game situations and events.

The 1000 Club was released on 16 April 2013, as a free DLC pack in the Xbox Marketplace. It was designed to extend the gameplay of Forza Horizon by adding new achievements and in-game medals. It includes two free cars, the Ruf CTR2 and the Ford F100. With the 1000 Club, each car in the game has about five or six in-game achievements that can be unlocked. By completing some of these achievements, players can unlock actual Xbox achievements.

According to Dan Greenawalt, director of Turn 10's Forza Motorsport series, the game's soundtrack contains several dubstep tracks, with a demonstration showing a variation of Avicii's "Levels" remixed by American music producer Skrillex. Three virtual radio stations were announced in conjunction with the season pass announcement. Each represents a different genre of music and has approximately 20 songs. The Horizon Bass station will feature artists such as Avicii, Madeon, Rusko and Nero; the Horizon Pulse station artists like Electric Guest, Ladyhawke, and Santigold; and the Horizon Rocks station The Black Keys, Neon Trees, The Hives and Arctic Monkeys.[10]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 86.19%[12]
Metacritic 85/100[13]
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 9/10[15]
G4 4.5/5[14]
Game Informer 8.5/10[18]
GamesRadar 4/5 stars[19]
IGN 9.0/10[16]
Official Xbox Magazine 9.0/10[17]
Official Xbox Magazine UK 9/10[20]
Giant Bomb 5/5 stars[21]

Forza Horizon received favourable reviews from critics. Aggregate review websites GameRankings and Metacritic report scores of 86.19% and 85/100 respectively.[12][13] Scores range from a two perfect scores given by Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb and David Wahlström of Eurogamer Sweden to a 60% approval from Phillip Kollar of Polygon.[21][22][23] The majority of scores were of an 80% approval rating or higher.[13] It ranked in the top 20 Xbox LIVE titles for the first two months following its release.[24]

Eurogamer deputy editor Oli Welsh called Horizon "a big, exciting game that finally brings car enthusiasts together with the realistic open roads they crave."[15] Welsh noted that the control scheme and realistic handling allows players to enjoy driving even the slowest of cars.[15] Games Radar's Sterling McGarvey felt that sometimes the cars lacked precise handling, but gave high marks for the game's environment and vast amount of activities to do.[19] Matthew Kato of Game Informer praised the game's visuals. He gave high marks for the dynamic day/night cycle and the detailed environment and vehicles.[18] He also praised the online multiplayer, including the game's Cat and Mouse multiplayer chase mode. Kato did note that much of the open world is blocked by guardrails, thus blocking a player's ability to chart their own paths during events such as a race against a plane.[18]

In a more critical review Polygon's Phillip Kollar noted that he felt the open-world environment felt empty. He further criticised the game's aggressive and expensive downloadable content plan. He stated that while the content is not forced on the player "it feels like the game is desperate to squeeze your wallet empty."[23] Kollar conceded that Forza Horizon "is at its best when it drops the sim pretense and embraces its arcade nature".[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jackson, Mike (4 June 2012). "E3 2012: Forza Horizon release date confirmed - Flagship racer given October date". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b McInnis, Shawn (5 March 2012). "Why It's Not Too Early to Get Excited Over Forza Horizon". GameSpot. Retrieved 5 March 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Forza Horizon -- Behind the Scenes Episode 1". Microsoft Studios via YouTube. 7 September 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Forza Horizon -- Behind the Scenes Episode 2". Microsoft Studios via YouTube. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Kubba, Sinan (9 October 2012). "PSA: Forza Horizon demo is go go go, also new screens and dev diary". Joystiq. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Hicks, John (5 March 2012). "Forza Horizon: Microsoft reveals a new racer for 2012". Official Xbox Magazine (UK). Retrieved 5 March 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Gaston, Martin (6 March 2012). "Forza Horizon is a risk". VideoGamer.com. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  8. ^ Schommer, John. "Forza Garage: Horizon Roundup 9/12/12". Microsoft Studios. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Forza Horizon Car Roster". Microsoft Studios via Facebook. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c Schramm, Mike (25 September 2012). "Forza Horizon gets a Season Pass, $50 for access to all DLC". Joystiq. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  11. ^ Hinkle, David (18 September 2012). "Forza Horizon post-launch plan includes monthly car packs, first 'expansion pack' on Dec. 18". Joystiq. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Forza Horizon". GameRankings. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c "Forza Horizon". Metacritic. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  14. ^ Deesing, Jonathan (12 October 2012). "Forza Horizon Review for Xbox 360". G4. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c Welsh, Oli (12 October 2012). "Forza Horizon review". Eurogamer. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  16. ^ Reilly, Luke (12 October 2012). "Forza Horizon Review". IGN. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  17. ^ Mahood, Andy (12 October 2012). "Forza Horizon review". Official Xbox Magazine. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  18. ^ a b c Kato, Matthew (12 October 2012). "Forza Horizon - Forza Gets That New Car Smell Again". Game Informer. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  19. ^ a b McGarvey, Sterling (12 October 2012). "Forza Horizon review". GamesRadar. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  20. ^ Hicks, Jon. "Forza Horizon Review". Official Xbox Magazine UK. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  21. ^ a b Gerstmann, Jeff (12 October 2012). "Forza Horizon Review". Giant Bomb. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  22. ^ Wahlström, David (23 October 2012). "Recension: Forza Horizon". Eurogamer Sweden. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  23. ^ a b c Kollar, Phillip (12 October 2012). "'Forza Horizon' review: into the sunset". Polygon. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  24. ^ "Xbox Live' Major Nelson » LIVE Activity". Official website of Larry Hryb, director of programming for Xbox Live. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 

External links[edit]