Combining the traditional Forza Motorsport experience and completely turning it around with a modern, socialite party vibe, Horizon does what Test Drive Unlimited failed to do: take open world racing and pair it with vast playgrounds, impressive features, and online play brought to the next level in racing. In Horizon, players are invited to experience Forza Motorsport like never before; an automotive and music themed festival in which you must rise in rank through various activities and race types to become notorious number one.
Forza Horizon takes the already excellent engine used in Motorsport 4 and updates it in a noticeably better way. As such, it allows for more realistic driving physics, beautiful and stunning visuals, and the brilliant variety of an alleged 65 different types of terrain, leaving the playground yours for the taking. Like Test Drive Unlimited, players are able to go wherever they please whether it be off-road paths or the fields and plains not restricted by guardrails, and it is executed in a much better way.
During the beginning of the game, it's almost overwhelming the way such an improvement to an already great franchise is thrown in your face. From the gorgeously rendered opening cutscene, to the first race, the stunning visuals, and the excellent playlists on Horizon Radio...one may almost have to pause the game and say, "Whoa." Right from the start, players will recognize Horizon as a Forza game, and the similarities are nothing but positive aspects. While Horizon is a completely new and original experience, there are still many aspects that reflect the brilliance of the previous Forza instalments.
As always, players are allowed to customise their vehicles to an understandable extent - considering that the Need for Speed and Midnight Club styled customisation is not the Forza credo - including colour and vinyl, under-the-hood tweaking, and some cosmetic features such as rims and rear spoilers. While I do enjoy the occasional over-the-top customisation, I appreciate that Forza stays true to its ways and only really allows players to customise what will help improve the performance of their vehicles.
The one and only thing I'm not crazy about when it comes to Forza Horizon is the loading screens. I understand that while an open world game might need additional time to load itself, there isn't really a need to throw up a three minute loading screen when I just want to go to a paint shop. While other open world titles such as Grand Theft Auto IV, which provides a single introductory loading screen and seconds-long loading times in between missions. With another title, The Sims 3, a single introductory loading screen is presented along with the loading of a new or saved game (which varies between 5 to 8 minutes, depending on your computer specifications.) This is where, in my opinion, Forza Horizon loses a small point or two, considering the length and frequency of the loading screens.
Overall, Forza Horizon succeeds in nearly every way. It's what I expect an open-world racing game to be like, and quite harshly pimp slaps Test Drive and says, "No! This is how it's done," and I love it.