The latest installment from Playground Games has finally arrived in the shape of Forza Horizon 4. As an Xbox exclusive, can this win the battle in console exclusives for Microsoft over both Sony and Nintendo?
For me personally, the simple answer would be a resounding No, theres just too many issues with the game that I’m struggling with.
Now don’t get me wrong, the game does look beautiful. Time and effort has gone into trying to make this open world racer look great and the environment does succeed in this, but that’s where it stops for me.
The cars do look nice, but nothing that takes your breath away. As I’m still a boy racer at heart (even though I’m 40) I will always get behind the wheel of a Ford Cosworth in any game given the chance and this game gave me that opportunity all over again to drive what was once (and still is in many ways) a fantastic car.
I took hold of the keys for the car, and before I started to thrash her around in anger, I looked around the car as I always do to check out the detailing and styling; there is none. It looked as if it had been lifted from a PS3 or Xbox 360 game and dropped onto the Xbox One, plus the lighting just didn’t work.
My first car that I started the game off with was a Ford Fiesta RS and that looked a little more promising, but on closer inspection the small details felt flat (it looked like the petrol cap was just drawn on, no depth around it). You can however edit the look of your car throughout the game with decal editors which can be uploaded for others to use, and also you can take other designs and use them as your own. Its nothing new, but there are some good artists in this world sharing their creations and it does take away from the bad looking flat paint cars. Then you can also upgrade parts of the car as well just like you can in the NFS franchise.
So now that moan is out of the way, I guess I had better go into the idea of the game.
As I have already said, Forza 4 is an open world blast, and I do mean that it is actually fun to play. It has been set in Britain, all-be-it a very condensed Britain, taking in some of the very best scenery the country has to offer.
Featuring over 450 cars throughout the game, its an impressive line up. This year they have introduced ‘seasons’ for the first time and as the seasons change, so do the handling dynamics of the car your driving at the time.
The developer’s attention to detail and quality craftsmanship is spotlighted especially well in Forza Horizon 4‘s changing seasons. The much-touted feature doesn’t disappoint, delivering so much more than spring’s rainy days, winter’s icy conditions, summer’s sun-baked blacktop, and autumn’s falling leaves. Each season ushers in a host of changes that not only bring unique cosmetic beauty and effects, but also environmental alterations that affect the terrain and how your vehicles react to it.
This in turn makes an already questionable handling system harder to control. I didn’t feel in control of the car most of the time. So many games have come before this and made the handling model so much more fun to use, in Forza it is way too easy to loose control of the car and not be allowed to get it back sending you spinning and facing the wrong way. No matter how long I played the game for, it didn’t get any better. Having said that, I’m new to the franchise and I’m guessing the handling has been used throughout the series and stayed pretty much the same.
Take all that on board and also the different racing events which unlock as you progress with rep points allowing you to street race, rally stage races, 4×4 off road racing and also a rather weak attempt at a story of stunt drives for a film that is being made and you do have a full and fun game. Most of the environment around you is full destructible so when you are racing, dont expect a wall at the side of the road to save you, you will knock it down and drive through it. This does however make it easier to drive to your next event. If you were to be held on the roads, the constant driving between events does start to get annoying, driving across country fields is a lot quicker and you get points for destruction, so its a win win.
The final thing I want to touch on is the character creation at the start of the game. There are both Male and Female models to use, but they are extremely limited. You cant edit anything on the character’s face etc and they look horrendous in the game. Considering the overall graphics are rather good, there are too many flaws with aspects in the game. You can change clothing etc the further into the game you get, but the face models just don’t cut it. I ended up adding accessories to cover the face and head as much as I possibly could.
Forza 4 is available for free for anyone that has access to the Game Pass on Xbox and I’m glad I could try it on that and not waste money on buying the game for myself. You would be wasting £40 if you were to rush to your local gaming shop and buying it.
The best I can give this game is a 6/10. The only thing that makes the game challenging enough to keep me going is the change of seasons which do look lovely, but there are just too many issues in this game that stops me from really liking it. That said, I’m sure there’s fans of the series that will stick with it and rave about it.