FLAT OUT WINNER.
WE'VE always got a sceptical eyebrow raised when we hear the words "spin-off", but Forza Horizon, an offshoot from the main Forza racing car series, lays those fears to rest.
Made by developers pooled from some of the best racing titles of all time, Forza Horizon swaps the test track for an open world. You'll tear around a gigantic map, taking on street racers from across the Colorado state in all manner of daring challenges, on-road and off, collecting supercars while finetuning the road warriors already in your lock-up.
Previous open world racers, such as Test Drive Unlimited 2, have made us feel that concessions must be made to offer so much scope and content in a racer. Perhaps it'll be ropeylooking cars or recycled tracks. Forza Horizon is having none of that. Raising the bar significantly, it's the open road racer you've always dreamed of, and in some respects beats even the main entries in the series.
First off, you've got the same exquisite car handling and physics systems in play that the series is so revered for. Whether hitting the tarmac or the dusty plains, cars of all shapes and sizes, manufacturer and engine size, handle appropriately. Then, the visuals. The game world is gigantic, and for the most part free to explore as you please, be that to find a shortcut during a race or to hunt down a secret tucked away in a corner.
Despite this, it's as gorgeous as any previous Forza title, with almost photo-real motors, stunning frame rates and a draw distance that'll make your jaw drop. Tear down a highway during the game's night cycle and approach the Horizon festival game hub at speed; the glow is something remarkable.
Finally, content. Though it comes down to personal taste to an extent, the death-defying challenges on offer in Forza are arguably more fun than the authenticity of earlier titles.
You'll still take part in races, but now you'll also be chasing down planes overhead, or taking part in photo-opportunity stunt and speed challenges, all the while being able to smash through fences and accelerate over bumpy terrain.
It's not without its flaws (rival drivers are supremely annoying during story cut-scenes, there's no proper car damage modelling system, and too many "secret" cars have already featured in previous Forza titles), but this is easily one of the best racers of this generation.
DETAILED Forza's world is gigantic, and yours to explore
CHALLENGE Race on the open road or rough terrain
REVERED Forza Horizon keeps the same exquisite car handling