Welcome to Horizon! A festival celebrating the love of automobiles. Oh, and there’s plenty of music and a lot of hot girls showing off their assets (preferably on my car please). For years, the Forza Motorsport series gave me the opportunity to race in some of the hottest cars on the most popular tracks in the world. Horizon takes a completely different approach and delivers one of the best driving experiences alongside Test Drive Unlimited. Yes, the game is that good. For a time I had my doubts about Horizon, but those doubts were quickly dashed once I got behind the virtual wheel of my Dodge Viper and started driving for the first time. I love this game.

PROS:

Open World Driving
Turn 10 Studios and Playground Games take the Forza we all know and love and moved if out to the open world. Colorado becomes my new racing playground with tons of events to compete in and plenty of hidden treasures to find. Of course there’s also those times where I just want to drive on the open road and explore allowing me to enjoy the experience of driving rather than forcing me into race after race. Forza Horizon lets me do what I want whenever I want and I like that.

I Want Cars…Lots Of Cars
Now I’m not going to find the hundreds of cars that I would have in Forza Motorsport 4, but what Forza Horizon offers in terms of badass rides definitely suits me just fine. Horizon features some of the best muscle, sports, and exotic cars on the road, or dirt, for me to race or just cruise around the countryside with. There’s also the opportunity to restore older cars (found in hidden barns) to use as well. Cars also show real damage from crashing and hitting walls making for a sense of realism in racing which is a huge plus for me.

Wide Variety Of Events
There is always something to do in Forza Horizon. Your GPS will point you to upcoming races to advance your status in the championship, but there’s also other events to take part  in. PR Stunts, rally races, illegal street races against random drivers on the road, and even speed challenges from random radar cameras. Better yet, how about racing against an airplane. I kid you not. Just the mere thought of that type of event channels my inner Doug Masters from Iron Eagle. I got a real kick, as well as an adrenaline rush, doing these showcase races taking in planes, helicopters, and even hot air balloons. Sure it’s a novelty, but being told that your faster than an airplane is pretty damn cool.

CONS:

Lack Of Customization Options
The one thing that the Forza Motorsport series is known for is endless customization. Paint jobs, vinyls, aftermarket parts upgrades, and tuning so you get the most performance and handling out of your cars. Forza Horizon is more like Forza Motorsport Lite. Sure you get all the exterior goodies as well as some upgrades, but the tuning is missing. That kinda sucks. The upgrades can also be one a double-edged sword, because most races will not allow you to use your upgraded vehicles meaning that I’ll have to downgrade or pick another ride.

Opponent AI Can Be A Little Too Easy
If you want the biggest challenge that this game can give you then I would suggest setting the difficulty to “Hard” because anything lower is just too easy. Yes, I like to finish in first, but I felt like the opponent AI wasn’t putting up too much of a fight especially towards the end of the race. It was like they were begging me to pass them just to make me feel better. Another suggestion is to not stay with the default options. Customize your racing options so that you can score as many bonus credits as possible.

SO HOW DOES MY 2012 CHEVY CAMARO ZL1 HANDLE:

Once I acquired enough credits I went right to purchasing my car. The 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1. I kept the car in my actual Victory Red color and changed out the rims, and painted them black to look exactly like mine. Keeping the car in it’s original stock I took it out in the open road and it was fantastic. Driving high speeds was exhilarating and the handling was brilliant and responsive. I could really see the sense of speed coming from the supercharged engine delivering 580 horsepower and 557 pounds of torque. I also switched into cockpit view and the look was absolutely authentic. It really felt like I was driving in my car.

IN CONCLUSION

Forza Horizon sticks to the roots that made the previous Forza Motorsport games fun to play. Add on a spectacular multiplayer experience to the fun and engaging single-player game and what I have is racing gold despite a couple of flaws. Horizon makes me feel like I’m at an over the top car show, and that’s pretty cool. This game has a lot to offer making it great for if I just want to have a casual drive to balls to the wall hardcore racing just to show off how badass I am behind the wheel shouting out “Move bitch! Get out of my way!” The big question I ask myself is if Forza Horizon is better than Test Drive Unlimited? I would have to say “Absolutely!”

Developer: Turn 10 Studios, Playground Games
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1-8 (online multiplayer)
Price: $59.99

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