Racing games have been a staple of video games since almost the beginning. Racing just seems to be a perfect fit for the medium. As video games have evolved, technology has advanced to the point where the hardware can produce an extremely realistic experience. One of the yearly releases for the Microsoft Xbox has been the Forza series for over a decade. The series is well known for heavy realism along with more than enough customizations that players can have a totally original car from the ground up. This year’s entry is Forza Horizon 4, and fans of the series are excited to drive around the simulated UK rendered in the series’ loving fashion.
Gameplay: A Car Freak’s Dream
Forza Horizon 4 is a racing game. This could mean different things to different players. Some are looking for an arcade experience, where realism takes a backseat to an over the top experience. Others are looking to as close as realism as possible. Forza Horizon 4 straddles that line well. Players are presented with a wide-open world, with races sprinkled around the map. There are several types of races for players to find, whatever the player is feeling at the time, they can find.
Everything that players do in the world gets them respect which fills up their progress toward the next season in the Horizon career mode. The beginning of the game starts with the player trying to earn enough respect to qualify for the autumn season, this time acting as a tutorial of types, introducing players to the different types of races. Each season afterward brings new hiccups to the racing physics. Winter is slick from ice, spring and fall are both prone to rain, and summer is dry as a bone.
My favorite racing mode is the cross-country races. These are the same as off-road races where players are tasked with racing through the fields or the forests of England and trying to come in number one. These races give a wider sense of freedom than the other races where players are just racing through the streets from checkpoint to checkpoint. These other races are fun, though, and the moment to moment driving is a joy to play.
Graphics: Blurring the Line
The graphics of Forza Horizon 4 are fantastic. The actual driving gives a sense of speed that I haven’t seen in years. There is just enough motion blur around the car to make even the slowest driving have a sense of blazing speed. The lighting engine is excellent, reflecting lights off of the cars as realistically as I’ve ever seen.
Racing games usually focus on performance and graphics, and in the case of Forza Horizon 4, this focus is apparent. The realism in the graphics allows the player to feel like they are living the life of speed and cars.
Multiplayer: A Living World
The multiplayer in Forza Horizon 4 is seamless and unobtrusive. As the player is roaming the world, there is a group of people that have been randomly matched up and are roaming the world along with the player. If the player comes across one of these other players, they can connect easily to a “convoy” and race around the world together. If there is no one to connect to, the other racers are automatically filled with “fake” racers with the name of random Gamertags from the player’s friends list.
When a player drives up to an event, they are then given the opportunity to find opponents or another player’s drivatars. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to test this feature very well, due to the game’s multiplayer not being brought online by the time of writing.
Music: Good, Not Great
As you would imagine, the soundtrack is full of licensed tracks broken up into radio stations. This has been the normal course of action for these games since Grand Theft Auto III. Unfortunately, there seems to be too few of these stations, giving players the ability to listen to some pop, some rock, and strangely some classical music. The music that is there is strangely bland. I honestly don’t remember any standout choices in the whole time that I played.
Soundtracks, even the licensed soundtracks such as this one, can be iconic for players. Forza Horizon 4 is just passable. It’s a glaring weakness for what is otherwise a slick and well-produced package.
Customization: Another Game in Itself
Many of the portions of the game can be customized. This has often been a selling point for the series, earlier entries being groundbreaking in their time. The biggest area of customization would, of course, be the cars themselves. Under the hood, players can purchase many parts to increase performance. These parts can unlock even further customization in the tuning menus, allowing players to fine-tune the performance of the cars.
What good would having a tricked-out car, but having a boring paint job be? Players who are interested can play around with a metric ton of options to make the outside just as original as the inside. These customizations can take hours upon hours of time away from the players who love the painting and customization area of the racing scene.
All these customizations are able to be uploaded for other players to download for their own cars, so if you don’t want to deal with the tuning or visual options, you can find one that you like from other players. It’s just another option in a large number of options for gamers to play their own way.
Ultimate Edition: More Cars, More Money, More Respect
The Ultimate Edition of Forza Horizon 4 allows players to have access to both already released and future DLC packs of cars. The one that is the most interesting is the James Bond car pack with multiple iconic vehicles from the long-running movie series. The other big selling point would be the VIP status where players are given several extra cosmetics along with a permanent doubling of credits won through racing. None of the things here are necessary, but they are all cool for players who are planning on spending a good amount of time with the game.
Jesus Take the Wheel
In a world where games tout player choice, Forza Horizon 4 has released with actual player choice. From top to the bottom, there is a fantastic amount of love on display in every frame rendered to the screen. The game is fluid and smooth, and the multiplayer modes (that I was able to test) are seamless. There is something for everyone who has ever enjoyed a racing game in this package. Players can play as realistic as they want, or after playing with the options can make their experience a fun arcade-y racing game. I had fun with every moment that I played, even the downtime driving through the world was a master class of amazing game design. I highly recommend anyone with an Xbox One to purchase a copy of the game.
- THE GOOD
- Excelent Gameplay
- Great Graphics
- Customization is Crazy
- Multiple Different Ways to Customize Difficulty
- THE BAD
- The Soundtrack is Merely Passable
In a world where games tout player choice, Forza Horizon 4 has released with actual player choice. From the top to the bottom, there is a fantastic amount of love on display in every frame rendered to the screen. The game is fluid and smooth, and the multiplayer modes (that I was able to test) are seamless. There is something for everyone who has ever enjoyed a racing game in this package. Players can play as realistic as they want, or after playing with the options can make their experience a fun arcade-y racing game. I had fun with every moment that I played, even the downtime driving through the world was a master class of amazing game design. I highly recommend anyone with an Xbox One to purchase a copy of the game.