Microsoft Xbox 360
ESRB rating: Teen
Review rating: 4.0 stars
I'm not a big fan of racing simulations, mostly because I prefer slamming the virtual pedal to the metal more than slamming on the brakes. So imagine my surprise at being able to skid around corners in open-road races while playing the newly released "Forza Horizon," a series known for hardcore sim races on closed circuits.
This fun game may not have a brand new engine, but there has definitely been some tweaking under the hood. For starters, "Forza Horizon" has an actual storyline that takes place in a romanticized version of Colorado where the gorgeous backgrounds shine as much as the fancy paint jobs on each vehicle! Hundreds of promising drivers flock to the honorable Horizon Festival in an attempt to achieve fame, and players assume the role of one of these gearheads.
In addition to traditional closed linear races, where walls on each side evoke feelings of claustrophobia, there are open point-to-point races that are much more enjoyable. It's extremely thrilling to dodge oncoming traffic and skid around turns at high speeds while the sun sets in the background. I also love the endurance runs that pit players against rival drivers as well as varying terrain.
However, my favorite racing mode takes a cue from the "Burnout" series and lets drivers challenge other drivers in impromptu races. Another fun aspect is the real-time feedback system that rewards not only skilled driving but also dangerous driving like narrowly avoiding pedestrian traffic and catching air!
Unlike arcade racers, the vehicle handling in this game requires a certain attention to detail to avoid skidding out or crashing. Don't expect to jump right into races and bounce off of walls and other cars in an attempt to "pinball" your way to victory. Turning on all of the driving aids won't ensure that you keep the car on the road, but it is a nice option for those that want to lessen the difficulty.
"Forza Horizon" promotes fun over realism and is a welcome departure from the serious aspect of racing