Having a Blast in the Horizon Life

TAYLOR SCHLOEMER | THE SPECTRUM
It is hard for a trip to Britain to be as much fun as ‘Forza Horizon 4.’

In the “Horizon” entries of Microsoft’s flagship racing series, the “Forza” franchise has been about one thing — fun.

With “Forza Horizon 4” becoming the latest of the series to come out, the question remains if it is just as fun as its predecessors. “Forza Horizon 3” remains the best-selling Xbox One exclusive in the console’s history. Can the new entry continue to carry the torch?

Set in the north of Britain with dynamic seasons as the headlining feature, the simple answer is yes.

But can you fling a Bugatti Chiron 1,000 feet off a jump underneath a windmill?

Yes, yes you can.

And you can land in the snow if you want.

The northern U.K. has four seasons in real life, and “Horizon 4” makes use of all of them.

In the early parts of the game, players get a taste of each of the four seasons. Each comes with different challenges as different levels of grip come to the forefront.

A race down a dirt track in the summer becomes mud in the fall. A slight side effect of the damp conditions is the reappearance of “Forza Force,” which causes the car to roll easier.

But after the first four hours or so, players are dropped into the Horizon Life, where the world is populated by other players and the seasons change on a weekly basis.

But can you ruin a village’s Sunday morning with a howling Hoonicorn?

Yes, yes you can.

However, drifting and overall handling is a bit different than “Horizon 3.” And that includes Ken Block’s tuned-up Mustang. On the first drive, the physics seem a bit twitchier than before.

Couple that with an increase of more technical roads means that focus shifts toward the handling of each vehicle.

This means that a little more skill will be needed when taking on Rivals challenges (time trial mode). Striking the right balance of speed and grip becomes even more challenging.

But can you turn an Ariel Atom V8 into a top rally car?

Yes, yes you can.

The Atom upgrade becomes available as the homologation system from the recent “Forza Motorsport 7” as Horizon comes back to a simpler car rating system. This means that crazy contraptions can be made for the means of having fun.

Any car can be used for any race, no matter the type of race. It is a nice freedom after the Motorsport line seemingly lost focus of what is fun in that series’ latest entry.

It is possible to be sandwiched between a Pagani Huayra and a Formula Drift Holden Maloo in a Subaru Impreza while a Volkswagen Beetle from the Global Rallycross Championship struts away up front.

But can you complete a UNSC training module with the Warthog from “Halo” with Covenant Banshees buzzing you?

Yes, yes you can.

And the Warthog has not looked better, as has much of the game.

From a graphical standpoint, the game is impressive. Xbox One X owners will have the luxury of choosing between 30 frames per second (fps) at 4K resolution or 60 fps at a lower resolution.

Even on the base spec Xbox One, it is a pretty game. However, the lack of power from the older console means that some of the foliage looks a bit blurry most of the time.

But can you make a wide-body London Black Taxi Cab?

Yes, yes you can.

The Black Cab is part of the formula developer Playground Games established in the last Horizon entry. Set in Australia, the car list from “Horizon 3” included a number of ‘utes and Australian saloons, as well as a number of Holden vehicles, the beloved Aussie manufacturers.

Now with the British backdrop, a number of specialized vehicles enter into the franchise. Austin-Healy makes a return, as does the Ascari KZR1.

But what stings is the loss of two beloved manufactures. Toyota continues to not bring a lot to the franchise, and offshoot Lexus is also gone.

Mitsubishi also drops off the roster for the first time in franchise history. The exclusion is a sad one and is really felt when driving a Subaru Impreza WRX. The Modern Rally races just feel incomplete without the Mitsubishi Evolutions.

But overall, that is just one of the very few issues that the game has. For an Xbox owner, the game is a must own. Even for the non-racing gamer, the sheer amount of fun this game contains is enough to make the purchase.

“Forza Horizon 4” releases fully on Oct. 2 for Xbox One and PC.

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