Platforms: Xbox One, Windows PC
Somehow, I managed to build up a games backlog so big that even the most dedicated gamer would have struggled to play through all the games on their list. Thankfully, I have made progress on my backlog of games and after completing quite a few titles, only one has lived long in the memory; Forza Horizon 3! The Forza Horizon games have always been my favourite racing games and the 3rd game in the series has delivered another great racing experience.
Quality Over Quantity
All the Forza Horizon games have succeeded in delivering a high quality racing experience by combining fast cars with off road events and ludicrously over the top showcase events where you must race against trains and planes. Where the first game excelled in encouraging progression through a wristband system, Forza Horizon 3 has made this far less prominent with the opportunity to open up new events on the map as your main progression target. Expand various Horizon festivals to open up new PR stunts and exhibitions. This change does not necessarily improve the game but it does make a little more sense as you try to go from rags to riches during your driving career.
The map also does not appear to have massively increased in size but the environments that have been introduced completely negate any flaws in map size. Driving in the baron outbacks, through the rain forest or just simply drifting around on the beach; all of these feel like new experiences in Forza Horizon 3 and honestly, they are all so more-ish. With enough depth in racing styles with these varied race settings there is enough here to keep you racing for hours!
One thing that the developers, Playground Games, have always done an excellent job on is the graphics. With the addition of beauty spots in Forza Horizon 3 the graphics have moved from being a development process to a work of art. Seeing the mountain ranges in the game or the beautiful highways by the sea really makes you appreciate the time and effort that has gone into making this game one of the most beautiful open world games you will ever play. Further evidence of the graphics comes in the opening sequence when you first play the game. Not only does this get you pumped for playing the game but it is often hard to tel the difference between the game and real life!
Quantity In Abundance
This Forza game may boast quality but it doesn’t scrimp on the quantity side of things either! There are 63 championships along with plenty of exhibition races, PR stunts, the bucket list, barns finds, head to head street races and more! If you were aiming for 100% completion of all events then you are in it for the long haul! There are days worth of content in here for racing fanatics!
Most of these races are not new to the series but they all offer a different racing or driving experience. In the Bucket List you will be required to carry out different challenges such as beating speed traps or beating a drift skills target and this is a nice change from the ‘come first in this race’ repetition that can happen when completing Championships all the time. What is great about Forza Horizon 3 is that you can now create your own Bucket List challenges for anyone to try. You must complete this challenge yourself to complete the setup process which means you will need to be at your best to make this a challenge for everyone else!
Even though the game apparently ends when you have completed all the Showcase events where you must complete extravagant racing challenges there is so much more to explore. The PR stunts follow a very similar format to the Bucket List in that you could be trying to hit the highest speed possible on certain speed cameras or travel the most distance from randomly placed ramps but the Head to Head Races have always been a nice feature in the Forza Horizon games. Let’s face it, the map is huge and sometimes, the spur of the moment racing challenge on the way to your destination is too much of a temptation to pass up! Complete enough of them and you will be able to complete in Street races and Midnight Battles which will ultimately help unlock more cars for your garage.
Just take one look of the map and it might appear small when you compare it to other open world games but there is always something to do in close vicinity and this could be considered a better approach than the larger scale open world games. If you must insist on size over matter then you will also be able to expand your map with the map expansions, however I am yet to try Blizzard Mountain so it is unknown whether this delivers on the same level as the core game.
With over 350 cars available in the game and plenty of opportunities to buy and win these cars on your travels then you will be driving around for hours with a huge smile on your face!
My Only Criticism
I am not a car expert and I admit that right here, right now but I do have one criticism of the driving experience in Forza Horizon 3. Where other driving simulators focus on realism, Forza Horizon is feel more arcadey and I love this about the game. Despite my love for arcade racing games there is constantly a little niggle in the back of my mind that the cars do not vary in terms of realism. It appears that there is a certain amount of generalising involved with the car types. All hatchbacks will have better road control, most fast cars will have questionable handling capabilities and the off road cars will all most likely drift on every corner no matter how tight the corner is.
This criticism is not to say that the game is not great as it is but it does make you question why other stats outside of speed have been included when you can guess most of the time how a car will handle and all that matters is whether your car is faster than the rest of the racers in the event. It makes the racing side of the game a little stale at times but at least there can be enough variance in the environment to make this almost negligible.
If you are looking for driving realism then the Forza Horizon series will seriously disappoint. However, if you are looking for pure fun whilst racing fancy looking cars across beautiful landscapes then there is literally no better game than Forza Horizon 3! The other games in the Forza Horizon series follow the same formula so if you like this then you should get the entire collection for hours or racing goodness. A mixture of top notch graphics with addictive game play and huge amounts of content make this the best racing game I have played since Forza Horizon 2. So when is Forza Horizon 4 coming out?