Forza Horizon Reviews

Forza Horizon Rally review

Forza Horizon was the driving game released into the wild, its cars cast off into the fun and fury of the untamed open road. It makes sense that its first substantial add-on takes to the wilderness, then - although the Rally Expansion Pack initially feels tame.

This is a standalone add-on, and one that sits within its own menu tucked away from the open-ended sprawl of Horizon's main Colorado map. There's no sense of discovery here; instead, it's simply a succession of off-road time trial events, there to be unlocked until you've hit the points cap and reached the Rally final.

So what's Forza Horizon without that dizzying sense of liberty, that free-wheeling taste of adventure that marked the main game out? It turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, that it's a well-crafted and enjoyable driving experience, even when torn away from the element that helped make it all so exciting originally.

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Forza Horizon review

Forza Horizon review

You have reached your destination.

Forza Horizon is one of those games that tries too hard to look hip. Its characters and setting - a festival of music and motor racing - share the same sanitised vision of youth culture you see in ads for mobile networks. Its colour scheme is black with hot pink and every menu rests at a 15 degree angle. Achievements have titles like 'OMG' and '#WINNING'.

Perhaps it's trying to correct the famous lack of charisma of its parent series Forza Motorsport, from Microsoft's in-house team Turn 10. Or perhaps it's trying to cover up a strain of rank commercialism, since it's plastered in sponsor logos and invitations to buy tokens for shortcuts. An offshoot made by another studio - new UK outfit Playground - Forza Horizon comes across like a marketing drive first and a game second, tainted as it is with buzzwords like "brand extension" and "annual cadence".

Prepare to swallow your cynicism, however, because Forza Horizon is a quite brilliant racing game - one of the best of its generation. It's also a lesson in how to make that development model work to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

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