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There isnt any one reason, but many that add up. The attention to detail, for example, is magnificent, and as an Australian its certainly something I can wholly vouch for. The road markings, the street signs, even the garbage bins with their multi-coloured lids. Its eerie, really. The lighting is astonishing, too, with the amazingly authentic sky bathing the whole environment in uncannily realistic sunlight and casting crisper shadows. (The latter are at their most superb as you wind through the thick rainforest sections as the sun tries to pierce through the tall trees.) Water plays a big part, too, and not just because the entire place looks even better slick from rain. Everything from the gently sloshing waves by the Twelve Apostles to the wake created by your wheels as you putter across shallow streams is top notch.
Beyond its prowess when it comes to presentation, Horizon 3s big bullet point is its pliability. There are more car customisation options than ever, and the best ones are sorted into a separate menu, so its clear before purchasing which rides will feature the new widebody kits and blower options. 2015sNeed for Speedactually made up a lot of ground on the Forza franchises level of customisation (even surpassing it in some areas, like the ability to place decals on glass, for instance) but Horizon 3 is a confident response to the challenge.
The standard for this series is very high. Back in 2014Forza Horizon 2delivered us a sumptuous slab of Mediterranean coastline; a splendid, summertime jaunt through the rolling fields and quaint seaside towns of southern Europe that felt like it was lifted from an episode of Top Gear. Its lovely, truly.
Youre in charge of the Horizon Festival. Customize everything, hire and fire your friends, and explore Australia in over 350 of the worlds greatest cars. Make your Horizon the ultimate celebration of cars, music, and freedom of the open road. How you get there is up to you.
About my only gripe here is that the Horizon 3 still isnt nuanced enough to distinguish between Ford vehicles from the US, the UK, and Australia. As a result Horizon 3s Australian-themed race category Aussie Rules is kind of a waste of space right now, considering Aussie Fords remain sorted as US cars and arent eligible. An odd miss considering how utterly?reverent Horizon 3 otherwise is to its setting.
But its the flexibility of the racing events themselves that gives us almost complete control over how Horizon 3 unfolds. Horizon 2 allowed us to rock up to a new championship and completely ignore the suggested car class, which meant we could progress towards the festivals grand finale without ever leaving the cars we wanted to drive most. Horizon 3 goes a step further, not only by adjusting certain events automatically depending on what car youve brought to the start point but also by allowing us to either completely re-script the event from the ground up ourselves, or race a custom event created by friends or other Horizon 3 players.
Youre no longer restricted to the in-game music, either, and I really cant stress enough how much Ilovethe Groove Music integration here. It really is surprisingly easy to play your own music in Horizon 3 and its absolutely worth a try if you love driving to particular tunes. While I mentioned Thunderstruck in the intro, Horizon 3 contains no AC/DC; Im just playing my own. Having the built-in ability to stream your music itself is different to just playing background music via the Groove app on your Xbox One, too. Done in-game itll play just like any of the included radio stations; theres no DJ but your songs will get the full post-processing treatment any time you drive into a festival location so itll sound like your radio has just given way to a live concert. That said, my personal songs would occasionally hang and skip like a badly scratched CD, but I cant tell if thats a bandwidth issue on my part or a technical one with the functionality itself.
The cars may be the stars here, but its the stage that steals the show.
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Its greatest strength is probably the sheer variety of landscapes, though. Horizon 3 remains dwarfed by the likes ofThe Crews impressively large map, but it packs a pile of vastly different terrains into its Australian backdrop. Theres a quiet coastal town, with its picturesque beaches, and the rolling fields between it and the high-rise, urban metropolis of Surfers Paradise. Theres the damp and dense rainforest carpeted with thick undergrowth around closely packed trees. Theres also rural wine country that gives way to the sparse red dust and isolated rms of the outback. If anything, Horizon 3s outback zone isnt really big enough to communicate the sheer vastness of the real thing that Id yearned for (shelve your hopes of any arrow-straight highways disappearing over the, er, horizon) but its nonetheless a noticeable improvement over Horizon 2 where all four corners of the map felt largely similar to each other.
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The price for all this eye candy on Xbox One is that Horizon 3 runs at 30 frames per second (as with previous Horizon games) although it remains locked there always, providing a smooth and consistent driving experience. The only time I ever saw it stumble was during the vignettes you get upon discovering a barn find (which are back, more plentiful than ever, and better disguised on the menu screens prior to their discovery). The PC version is blissfully unrestricted.
Were also no longer restricted to a deult avatar; rather we can now choose from a selection, la Test Drive Unlimited. Playground has even had its voice actors record a host of names the commentary will refer to you by, which is a cute touch. It deulted to Luke, but I chose Sausage because Im clearly easily amused. Every time I load my game I hear Anna, my GPS assistant, say, Welcome back, Sausage! Its impossible not to drive away with a grin after that greeting.
Forza Horizon 3is a masterclass in open-world racing and bigger and better than its excellent predecessor across the board. It looks ntastic, the car selection and customisation is second to none, and the size and variety of the sprawling Australian outback is magnificent. Above all, Horizon 3 never loses sight of the ct that tearing through postcard-perfect locations should be fun, and it puts the tools in our hands to keep it that way, always. This is the racing game Ive been waiting for, and its officially my vourite thing on four wheels. A ir dinkum triumph, mates.
The Horizon festival heads down under but stays well on top.
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But maybe thats not your bag. You may prefer classic American muscle, or perhaps youre more partial to Japanese tuners from the turn of the century, or maybe you havent got time for anything but European hypercars. Thats okay too, because the Forza franchise is mous for its wonderfully eclectic approach to car curation and Forza Horizon 3 is no exception; its still the best in the business. The big difference here is that with its new level of car customisation and personalisation, an incredibly malleable career experience that can be played solo or co-op with friends, and even baked-in support for a soundtrack of your own choosing, Horizon 3 can be bent to your desires like never before in the series. Combined with dazzling landscapes and lighting effects, outstanding sound design, and well-honed driving dynamics, the results are absolutely ntastic.
Update: Forza Horizon 3 has been nominated forIGNs 2016 Game of the Year.
The term we use in Australia for what Americans call doing doughnuts is circle work. Right now Im doing some spectacular circle work around an outback airstrip in a custom V8 ute with all the trimmings. Im talking high-powered spotlights, a CB antenna sticking proudly up into the air, and a giant, mesh-filled roo bar that looks like its llen off the front of a Kenworth. Thunderstruck is banging on my stereo and the tacho needle is banging on the redline. This isForza Horizon 3for me; an experience that could only get more Australian if it was delivered inside a giant jar of Vegemite by Paul Hogan crashing into your living room riding an actual crocodile.
The lighting certainly helps a great deal, though, as the differences between each area are also heightened by Horizon 3s new global illumination lighting system. It gives the outback a different hue to, say, the rainforest zone as the light picks up an orange tint from the sunburnt soil. The whole environment looks extra special in the pitch black of night, too, with the red glow of the roadside reflectors and the glint of approaching signs responding to your cars headlights.
Another area of improvement is the spectacular audio; Horizon 3 is the best-sounding Forza game to date including Forza Motorsport. The step up from Horizon 2 is immediately noticeable, and thats already a great-sounding game, but theres just something about the exhaust notes here in Horizon 3 that seem louder and more aggressive than ever before. I dont think Ill ever get tired of feathering the throttle with the backfire that Horizon 3 provides; its like the crack of a rifle.
And Horizon 3s world justcrushesit. The cars may be the stars here, but its the stage that steals the show.
Horizon 2s brand of and seamless opt in/opt out multiplayer returns and now includes include new co-op functionality, so if you dont want to play the career mode alone you can join three friends and tackle it in co-op. Everything you discover and complete is consistent across multiplayer and solo play, which is great design.
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Global illumination also does wonders for the car models, seating them in the world better than ever. Its perhaps telling that despite the ct Im a dyed-in-the-wool cabin view enthusiast Im finding myself more and more regularly opting to cruise with the chase cam to marvel at the way the cars gleam and pick up realistic reflections, even of the clouds above. Cabin view, however, is the best seat in the house from which to behold Horizon 3s wet weather. Its improved markedly from Horizon 2, with droplets now streaking across the glass and being shoved around by the wipers, as seen in last yearsForza Motorsport 6.
The functionality is dubbed Horizon Blueprint and lets us select the time of day, the weather, the competition, and even the name of the race itself. Its brilliant, and means every event can be raced in dozens and dozens of different ways under a whole range of conditions. Completing your own or your friends Blueprint events will net you the same rewards youd earn for opting for the official events Playground has baked in. You can even create your own Bucket List challenges? the one-off, themed events introduced in Horizon 2? starting at predetermined points in the world.