FORZA HORIZON 4
Where’s the fun in a road trip that sticks to the road?
DRY-STONE WALLS are built using a method that dates back to the stone age, and one that takes a lot of skill to get right. It seems a shame, therefore, to destroy quite so many of them.
Unfortunately, it’s so easy to. Slide off the road as you speed through the UK ( gaming’s British period continues unabashed), and chances are you’ll hit a dry-stone wall at an oblique angle, rocks flying into the air as your hugely expensive supercar ploughs through, largely undamaged. You’ll see the AI opponents doing the same—something about being unused to driving on the left, maybe?
As you can tell, we’re not in sim racing territory here. The only naturalism comes in the seasonal changes to the forests and fields you blast past at 90mph. Comparisons with TheCrew2 are inevitable; they share the same loose festival structure, the same sort of freeroaming map studded with “missions” that can include helping filmmakers as often as straight racing, and even offer up the same car in their starting lineups. The up-front presentation here is less obnoxious, though a game streamer you meet later on is particularly inane. His missions, however, are a tribute to racing games of the past, the cars from OutRun,
Daytona, and more served up for a blast through the countryside, and they’re representative of the game as a whole, in a way.
SEASON’S GREETINGS That countryside is remarkable. The game’s progression takes you through all four seasons, beginning in fall, and expecting you to accrue a certain amount of “influence” before advancing. Old England might not be so famous as New England for its colors, but the feeling of time and place conjured in Horizon4 is strong nonetheless. Winter changes everything, the snow and ice altering the handling considerably, and requiring car upgrades across the board. Whether you buy new cars, win them, or find them in barns is up to you, but the new rides keep coming, no matter what the time of year.
Horizon doesn’t care whether you race properly or smash those dry-stone walls; it rewards you for either. It doesn’t care about your cars and tires, it just assumes they’re in top condition. It doesn’t even care whether you’re having a good race, allowing you to rewind time to take a corner again if you mess up, or instantly start a race over if you feel there’s no redeeming yourself—you don’t even need to charge this ability up. If you’re wallowing at the back of the pack, with no one to smash into, that’s Clean Racing— have some points. Fishtail so badly you go through a wall, scare some sheep, drive across a field, then eventually rejoin the road just in time to crash into another racer, and that’s an Awesome Skill Chain—have some points. Car damage? Don’t worry about it.
It’s also worth noting that, compared with certain other games reviewed this month, FH4 runs very nicely in 4K on our GTX 1070 Ti-equipped test machine.
So, we would like to apologize to all the dry-stone wallers, and the residents of the English village of Ashbrook— we’re sorry for what we did. But we were having fun.
AI drivers can be friends’ Drivatars, but otherwise just have the most unlikely names.