Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"Forza Horizon 4" Review

Each release in the "Forza" series somehow pushes the bar for realism and accessibility even higher. "Forza Horizon 4" manages to continue the trend, delivering stunningly realistic visuals that captivate and thrill, feeling at times like an action movie come to life.

The "Horizon" spinoff series has always been the more fun, freewheeling open-world cousin of the mainline franchise. The temptation for developers Playground Games and Turn 10 studios may have been to devolve into something of a "Burnout Paradise"-style arcade romp, they throttle back and lean into the sim aspect. That doesn't mean this new "Horizon" pulls back from fun and frivolity. With nearly everything you do counting toward XP-style clout that lands you sponsors, funding and access to better cars and more varied events, you always feel as though you are inching forward on the progression loop.

Compared to dryer games such as "Gran Turismo Sport," "Forza Horizon 4" is a freewheeling goof. With so many disciplines available to keep things fresh and fascinating, you never feel as though you're playing the same race twice -- even if you take on the same event over and over in an effort to grind to the top. The trick of the game is that it makes all the grinding required feel like messing around. As you refine your skills, upgrade your fleet and seek out the events clamoring for your attention in the British countryside, you lose yourself in the constant forward momentum with which "Forza Horizon 4" enraptures you.

More than 450 cars from a staggeringly diverse 100 manufacturers are there to draw you onward. New modes such as "Horizon Life" boast 25 unique campaigns, testing varied skills such as stunt driving, drifting and sprint racing. The seasonally-divided shared world makes the same courses seem varied depending on whether they are, say, frozen over with ice or drenched with rain. The weather effects merge with impressive damage modifiers that particularly pop when you shift the POV to first person, dealing with the need to peek in between window cracks at the road hazards flying fast and furious at you.

It's been a slow couple of years for Xbox One exclusives, but "Forza Horizon 4" is nearly excellent enough to make up for the dearth of games to pick from. A driver's delight, the game is brilliant enough to convert those who don't care much about car games into true believers.
Publisher provided review code.

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