There’s not much you can legitimately criticise the Forza series for.
But when it comes to soul (or any other arbitrary term that attempts to define the abstract va-va-voom needed to sex up racing) it’s never quite nailed it.
Forza 4 likes to talk about the character and spirit it claims to have bottled for racing fans, but it’s hard to see it as anything other than an incredibly accomplished racing simulator; and a bit of a geeky one at that.
What ‘heart’ there was on display, was brought by the BBC’s own Top Gear petrol-heads and an art department intent on re-creating the world as realistically as it possibly could.
Clearly then, Turn 10 has an opportunity to grow its Forza series beyond the confines of the racing-sim and to help it do this it’s brought on board the newly created Playground Games.
A studio made up exclusively of developers more than used to creating racing games dripping in cool. The recent gameplay footage is proof alone that this is a studio that knows exactly what it’s doing. As an amalgamation of developers left over from the disappointing closure of both Bizarre Creations and Black Rock Studio, the pedigree really does speak for itself. So, just what kind of racing game is Forza Horizon?
Well, it’s not a racing-sim like Forza 4, that’s for sure. It’s clear the open road (and everything that comes with it) is fuelling the design. Turn 10 and its creative director Dan Greenawalt have often waxed lyrical about the joys of racing and the sensation of speeding down an open road, but the series’ focus on actual racing has limited its ability to truly convey such things. Horizon has the chance to show the recreational side of driving – a stunning view, a beautiful car and a tank full of gas; sounds great.
A new coat of paint?
Forza 4 was a beautiful-looking game and a technical marvel at that, but it was designed primarily as a simulation. Horizon has no such restrictions on it and though we’re not expecting an entirely different look and feel, beyond the realistic-edge established by the core series, there is certainly room to manoeuvre. If we’re talking about a game focused on the open road, Playground has the opportunity to create something of stunning beauty.
Putting the pedal to the metal
- Barring last year’s disappointing Need For Speed: The Run, road-trip racers are thin on the ground, but a genre worth exploring.
- The closure of Bizarre and Black Rock was hard to swallow; seeing the talent behind the wheel of another racing game makes us feel warm.
- The inclusion of Top Gear in Forza 4 gave Turn 10 all kinds of kudos, lets hope the boys are back for Horizon.
- A new direction implies that Playground could be giving Horizon a more arcade-slant than the Forza series has ever produced.
- It’s Forza and for many gamers that name represents a certain level of quality that makes any game under its banner worth investing in.
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