I quite like racing games. Well, some racing games. I like the ones with a lot of variety in the kinds of cars and kinds of races you can run. Like Forza. Huge variety of cars ranging from “what you drove to work today” to “high end Italian exotic” to “classic roadster” to “ultra-luxury sedan” to “the experimental stuff at Le Mans”.
In previous entries this has taken the form of entering a number of official events at tracks (both real and fictional), collecting money, upgrading cars, etc. And it’s quite fun. But there’s another kind of racing game Forza hadn’t attempted previously, which is the open world style like Test Drive Unlimited or Need For Speed: Underground 2. Hop in a car, cruise to your heart’s content, and enter a race if you fucking feel like it, harass the AI passerby instead if that’s your preference.
That’s what Horizon is. You are an entrant in a fictional automotive festival in Colorado called Horizon, and you work your way up the ranks blah blah, in between hooning about in town all you want. It’s a great deal of fun and there’s a lot of varied terrain to try your skills. There’s also added world bonuses like speed cameras or barn finds, where you stumble across ultra-rare old cars. Getting to spend the time goofing off is awesome, drifting around like a maniac and racing too close to little old ladies on the highway.
It’s not as good as I think it could be, unfortunately. I get that they need to cut the car list down, but coming from Forza 4 with over 500 cars down to a meager 200 is noticeable. Especially noticeable is that the ready-made racers are gone (I want my Aston/Lola LMP1 dammit!), and that once again, Porsche is missing from the lineup due to EA’s moronic control of the license. But there are odder items missing. For a game that’s much more focused on the street racing, a lot of standards are gone. No modern VW GTI? Really? We get the 2010 R but come on. Also, only an original Miata, none of the more recent MX-5s. And exactly one Honda Civic, which isn’t the CRX? That’s as classic street racing as you get.
The other annoyance is the “Stars”. To spice the game up there are a bunch of sort of boss fights. Every race at each level has one particular “star” you’re supposed to develop a sort of rivalry with. Which is cool on its own. But the voiceover for each of them makes them the most annoying bastards imaginable. Yeah, we’re supposed to want to beat them, but can’t they at least cough up a couple who aren’t complete douchebags?
But for the most part it’s pretty good. I’ve finished it in a week, though only spent a relatively small amount of time playing. Wish it was longer. Wish this and that worked better or differently. Wish there was more territory to cover. But all in all I can’t say I didn’t have a hell of a lot of fun.