What’s on this week
VIDEO GAME FORZA HORIZON 4 RRP £49.99
“It’s not your dream holiday, it’s your dream life. That’s what I see on the horizon,” says fictional racing champion Rebecca – Autosport hopes we’re taking her phonecall via a hands-free device, since we’ve been thrust into the cockpit of a Mclaren Senna.
After blasting along very familiar Scottish B-roads alongside other titans of the UK automotive scene, we’re straight into winter and driving a Polaris off-road buggy through an uphill section in the second stage of a racing/cinematic sequence that could be the Forza Horzon 4 version of Marvel’s Avengers.
Over a jump, across winter farmland and out of the mud, then it’s into spring in a Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Ford Fiesta from the Global Rallycross Championship as you hunt down showboating bikes.
Back into the Senna for the ‘Great Race’, which, if won, takes you through the sleepy town of Ashford and into the Forza Festival. ‘Welcome to Britain’, the message says.
Phew. Sound frantic, over-the-top bombastic? That’s the Forza Horizon franchise, the Top Gear-like mad brother of the more serious Forza Motorsport racer.
This is not a game for those who enjoy fraught simulation racing provided by the likes of Project Cars, rfactor or iracing, but more for the kinds of people who want to live out their Fast and Furious dreams.
The selection of cars from motorsport is as eclectic as you would expect from a sandbox, open-world game such as the Horizon series, no doubt highlighted by the stunning (if not road-legal) 1969 Penske Lola T70 in classic Sunoco livery, which in this game drives like a lightweight drifting machine. Autosport preferred driving this over the more typical Ford Transit vans that litter our road.
But taking the Lola around the streets of a surprisingly accurate, condensed Edinburgh, or through the tight-and-twisty confines of Cumbria, is a genuine delight. It’s a relief to see a large-budget video game acknowledge that there is more to the UK than the triedand-tested streets of London.
“TAKING A LOLA T70 AROUND THE STREETS OF EDINBURGH IS A GENUINE DELIGHT”
But not all feels quite so fresh, and several elements still fall flat. The insistence on a game avatar – particularly a selection so gormless – to introduce an element of clothes customisation is still as tacky as it sounds. Adding houses to buy makes for pleasant photos, but little else.
In reality, there’s only one addition – outside of seasons – worth noting. Forza Horizon 4 is the first game in the series to be totally online, which a gamble considering the failure of The Crew and its successor.
But the likes of GT Sport have proved it can be done and is in keeping with what the 2018 gamer wants.
The greatest success is the dynamic seasons that drop each Thursday with a curated song playlist – evocatively presented as old-fashioned motorsport event posters that used to promote iconic races.
While the arcade style may not be to the taste of every motorsport fan, the fact is that the Horizon series, which started as a spin-off, has now overtaken the parent Forza Motorsport series in popularity. In an era of racing games that are shining new light on niche series or taking Formula 1 to new heights, that’s remarkably telling.
Perhaps the knock-on effect will be that the wonderful but unrealistic Penske Lola will find a new audience to appreciate it too. If not, the additional content such as gadget-laden James Bond cars will suffice.
Autosport likes to pop to the virtual shops in the Lola