Forza Horizon

The primary culprit responsible for the lack of updates to this blog of late is the latest addition to the Xbox Forza Motorsport franchise, titled “Forza Horizon.”  Horizon is a brilliant time waster that takes pure automotive fantasy and digitizes it into a medium that can be experienced and shared, instead of just imagined.

Sadly, Electronic Arts has secured exclusive video-gaming rights to the Porsche brand, leaving Microsoft & Turn 10 Studios to suffer with this lighter, faster, flat-crank-V8 version of the 911.

While at heart Horizon remains (like its forbears) primarily a racing game, this new member of the Forza family trots out paralleling aspects of car culture as well.  No longer confined within the fences of a racetrack, the player can explore a big chunk of a stylized rural Colorado with what must be over a hundred miles of roads.  On and along said roads, there are hidden classics to discover in barns, AI-controlled players driving about that will street race at the drop of a hat, and stunning vistas to make for beautiful photo backgrounds.

Look at this picture and try not to hear that 6.2L V8 bouncing off the limiter.

The driving itself is just as glossy and fantastic as the rest of the experience.  There is no tire wear, no fuel burn, and almost any front-engine rear-drive car will drift gloriously; just turn in, stomp throttle, and apply opposite lock.  Is it realistic?  Heck no.  Is it terrific fun?  Absolutely.  Horizon makes no bones about being a simulation; it leaves that to simraceway and iracing.

Diving into a corner in a twin-turbo R8 GT on slicks.

All this, and yet the fun isn’t confined to just yourself and the AI.  One of the cooperative multiplayer challenges, for example, involves a minimum of four people maintaining in excess of two hundred miles per hour over a five-plus-mile length of highway while keeping in close enough proximity so that everyone crosses the finish line within a three-second gap.  It took myself and three college buddies (spread over three time zones) the better part of maybe a half-hour or so to achieve that goal—I can’t say exactly how much time was spent, because we were having such a ball in the attempts.  Imagine sharing a beautiful highway, a quartet of indestructible Bugatti Veyron Super Sports, and no traffic with three boon companions.  That’s Forza Horizon in a nutshell.  And if that doesn’t sell you, there’s no sense saying any more on the subject.

Of course, in the real world, if we all had Boss 302s, we would NOT do donuts in empty parking lots. Ever.

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