Review: Forza Horizon 3


Review: Forza Horizon 3

Gaming— I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time I saw it. The Sea Cliff Bridge! In a video game!

Every other US game features US landmarks. Grand Theft Auto V remixes LA. WATCH_DOGS takes place in Chicago. Fallout 4 features a post-apocalyptic Boston.

Forza Horizon 3 takes on Australia, and it does a surprisingly good job of it.

The layout of the Forza Horizon 3 map isn’t close to realistic. It takes 1 second to travel from Wollongong’s Sea Cliff Bridge to the Victoria’s Great Ocean Road in-game. In the real world those two places are an 11 hour drive apart. Though these little landmarks look and feel real, with a close attention to detail, and it feels like driving on the real bridge.

It’s genuinely exciting to see a real world road in a video game, especially when you can drive a virtual McLaren P1 across it, wipe out, and then bust some mad doughies. I wouldn’t dare try that in my own Ford Focus.

The game also just feels Australian. A Future Classic radio station brings the tunes while incredible lighting and graphics bring the looks.

The Horizon series alone is already such an untouchable, robust mix of arcade and simulation racing, and the novelty of seeing real world areas adds so much more to the fun. This is Microsoft’s best series and PlayStation / PC racing games don’t come close, except for maybe the last Need For Speed game. If you want a fun racing game that is both realistic but not too realistic, stop reading and buy this game. I couldn’t recommend it more.

It’s worth noting there are a few off-notes in Horizon 3. Coming from Horizon 2 the content of this game is admittedly a bit … meh. Just like every racing game sequel it features new cars, a new map, some new gameplay, but it still fits into a fairly unchanged template. If it isn’t broken don’t fix it I guess, though if you played the hell out of other Horizon games you might feel a bit fatigued. It reminds me of Ubisoft’s approach to sequels.

As well, new off-road sections mean the game looks a bit more like, say, Motorstorm, but Forza’s style of gameplay doesn’t always work well with these courses. While Motorstorm’s world was destructible, Forza’s world is a bit inconsistent in that regard. Some trees break, others break your car. Off-road courses can feel rigid and tight with little room for error.

The game goes hard on tutorials too, and I wish there was a way to skip some sections of dialogue, but now I’m just nitpicking.

As a whole Horizon 3 is hella fun and if you have an Xbox One or a gaming PC and love racing you should pick it up. Some days I just turn on my Xbox to drive around that open-world, panning the camera around at beautiful vistas. It’s smart, fast, furious, and most of all fun. Here’s hoping I see your UI-driven Drivatar in the beautiful outback.