Review: Forza Horizon 3
NOTE: I played Forza Horizon 3 for 13 hours on Xbox One exclusively. During my playthrough, I explored the open world, opened and upgraded multiple Horizon Festivals, reached level 20, and unlocked a sizable collection of cars. The following review is based solely on my 13 hours spent with the game.
Forza Horizon 3 is a true feat in racing games. In every single way, this game is bigger, better, and crazier than its predecessors. The team at Playground Games really outdid themselves again, and it shows in every detail that awaits players willing to embark on this open world racing journey. With so much to do, and numerous ways to play, Forza Horizon 3 is a masterclass in racing games that offers seemingly endless amounts of content.
STUNNING CARS, STUNNING STYLE
Forza Horizon 3 is beautiful, just stunning. It's like someone at Playground Games had something to prove with this one. Of course the cars look great, and run flawlessly at a solid 30FPS, which is impressive considering the sheer size of the landscape, but that's not the only breathtaking element in the game. The environments are really convincing, with a varied selection of unique locations to explore throughout Australia. Kangaroos hop, deserts look dry, and cities bustle with lights and sounds, it very well may be one of the greatest locations for a racing game yet.
All the varied terrain warrants the use of a wide range of vehicles. From dune buggies to super sports, Forza Horizon 3 is loaded with fun cars that'll constantly put players in the position of wondering thoughts along the lines of "I wonder if I can do (insert here)." The world map is littered with racing exhibitions and events, but more interestingly are the PR stunts. In these events, players will pick up speed and either drift, crash, or jump their way through ridiculous obstacles. As you progress through the game, you'll unlock bigger event racers that'll put you in some interesting scenarios. I've never experienced anything quite like jumping a heavily modded pick up truck over a river of speed boats waiting for for me by the finish line. Forza Horizon 3 is pure fun packaged into a $60 release.
The game also features an extremely robust weather system. The skies are alive in Forza Horizon 3, with lapse system that pulls together everything in this outdoor environment. Night time is an all-new story. Fireworks burst, and the city begins to evoke feelings of the old PGR games of Playground Games' past. The rain is incredible. Borrowing from last year's Forza Motorsport 6, rain effects are so vivid that I constantly changed from a third-person view to a first-person view just to watch my windshield wipers push away the little rain droplets.
A SOUND FOR EVERYONE
Forza Horizon 3 sounds incredible. Engines roar, wheels screech, and the music is on point. As to be expected with the series, every sound has been carefully chosen to represent the cars well. Nothing is loud and aggressive simply for the sake of being so. Horizon 3 also features arguable the greatest soundtrack in years. You have your typical 2016 electronic or hip-hop artists, but you also have the reintroduction of great pop punk and hardcore bands. I haven't seen a game with a soundtrack this impressive since Burnout 3: Takedown. A really interesting, and smart, addition is the Groove Music station, which allows you to play your music from your Groove account in the game, like any of the other radio stations, that is, if you have a Groove Music account.
PLAY YOUR WAY
For the first time since I can remember, a racing game allows players to choose who they want to play as. I decided to play as a character other than a unidentifiable caucasian male. You can also choose your own name, and your weird Siri-like GPS system will refer to you by your name. Aside from your character, Horizon 3 brings back the series staples by letting you tune your cars, as well as make ridiculous looking skins to paint your car in, and man are some of these user made skins ridiculous looking.
Another welcomed feature to the series is the ability to make your own race exhibition. You choose the car class, location, time of day, weather, etc., it's all top to you. Then you go in and leave all your friend's Drivatars in the dust. It's quite satisfying to build your own race the way you want, and still earn rewards for doing so.
After earning a large enough sum of fans, you'll be able to either expand your Horizon Festival or open a new one, if you make enough progress. From there, the map is doused with another ten to fifteen new activities to take part in. The amount of content in this game truly does seem endless. After putting a solid 13 hours in, I still felt like there was so much more to unlock and explore. Forza Horizon 3 can easily offer hundreds of hours for the completionists of the world.
TEAR S*** UP
Above all, the most fun in Forza Horizon 3 is when you just explore and do whatever the hell you wish. Honestly, I had entire play sessions dedicated to driving off cliffs and searching off-road areas.
Abandoned car missions offer additional incentives for exploring the game's off-road sections. These missions have you searching a general area to find an old car that has been abandoned in a shed. The reward? You get to keep the car! More exploring, more cars, more fun. The loop goes on and on.
Forza Horizon 3 is by far the best in the series. Just when you think they can't outdo themselves again, they go ahead and do just that. Everything from the cars, to the beautiful skies looks incredible, and gives purpose to the game's vast world. Player choice is emphasized more than ever, and will allow you to play the game by your rules, while still providing the feeling of a complete experience. There isn't much out there that can compete with this behemoth of a game. For fans of cars and crazy fun, Forza Horizon 3 is a must.