Right off the bat the Forza Horizon demo sets the scene for things to come with a short video montage of fast cars, glorious weather, pumping beats and pretty people that lead into the demo’s title screen. ‘This ain’t no ordinary Forza’, is quite simply the message that Playground Games and Turn 10 are trying to convey.
Forza Motorsport games are usually sim-heavy but with Forza Horizon, Playground Games and Turn 10 have collaborated to make a sort of mix between the more traditional Forza and an open-world racer such as Test Drive Unlimited.
Key elements from past Forza games are present such as the extremely detailed and gorgeous looking cars and as is the physics system, it’s just the visuals and atmosphere of the game have changed. The very serious looking real-world tracks have been replaced with an beautiful looking open-world version of Colorado and a festival that celebrates both car and music culture that serves as the game’s hub.
To begin the demo you start with a short race along a road. Nothing different there then. Speed, near misses and aggression a-plenty. Where the demo gets different is when you get to drive around a small portion of the open-world Colorado and even get to try an off-road race. Racing off-road is quite a strange experience at first; I expected a light, floaty, arcade-like handling system after playing the likes of DiRT, but it’s the Forza physics you know, just with the different terrain providing new challenges. It’s certainly interesting, and it works. As for the open road, it’s just that. Crash into innocent other drivers, weave your way through them or simply set the highest speed you can. The open-world setting lets you do what you want.
Elsewhere in the demo there’s a spectacle event, which are special races within Horizon that really set off the games festival and open-world ‘go-anywhere-do-anything’ mantra. In the demo this takes the shape of a Mustang car vs Mustang plane race. Ripped straight from the likes of challenges featured on Top Gear you race a Mustang plane around the sun-soaked cliffs and mountains of the demo area. Certain moments such as the plane racing past right above you are adrenaline-pumping and impressive and they all make the game feel more unique and different than previous Forza games.
With only a few races taking place in the demo on only a small section of the game’s map using only a few cars from the vast selection in the game the Forza Horizon demo leaves you wanting a lot more. It’s extremely impressive for the short amount of time you’re playing it but by the time you finish, you’ll be wanting to pre-order Horizon straight away.