Racing to 31 – 31 racing game greats: #2 Forza Horizon (2012)

It’s that time of year again and I find myself racing toward another birthday and to the ripe-old age of 31. In celebration I thought why the hell not have a racing themed countdown – so here we are, down 31 racing games that have defined my enjoyment of the genre over the last 31 years. Enjoy!

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Forza Horizon 2, huh?  It’s pretty great.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think the Xbox One exclusive is a breathtakingly good open-world racer, and one that is odds on to be my favourite game of 2014.  And while the scope of the game was greatly extended with its next-gen debut, the basic facets that make it such a joy to play were set down in 2012 with the studio and series’ debut on the Xbox 360.  In short, even though now it has the shadow of a bigger and prettier sequel, the original Forza Horizon is no slouch.

I loved the first game, spending nights after work for weeks on end racing around stunning representation of the State of Colorado, United States.  In 2013  I wrote that:

Forza Horizon is a big game and you’ll need to dedicate a significant proportion of time if you want to see everything Horizon Racing Festival has to offer. And that’s great because when the rubber hits the road, the racing is for the most part excellent. Underpinned by an accessible but deep driving model, you’ll find yourself moving from race to race absolutely oblivious to the passage of time in the real world.  The progression of the game encourages long play sessions as you earn points in order to level up  in pursuit of earning wristbands and climbing your way up the popularity ladder opening new, often faster, events in the process.  It is a simple premise that keeps you going through the game and moving up from the slower hatchback racers to the ultimate in super car rides, a progression that is more than worth the time you invest on the track.

It’d be remiss of me to try and make a case that case that Forza Horizon is better than its greatly expanded sequel.  It’s quite simply not.  But together, the games make a pretty clear case that Playground Games is a developer with not only pedigree but also vision.  With the United States in the first game, and Southern Europe in the second, the world is their oyster for any future sequels, with plenty of scope to expand to other continents.  Africa, New Zealand, Australia, who knows where we’ll be racing – and while that it a rather superficial way of looking at things, trivialising the years of planning and hard work that go into making these works of art, providing they continue to refine the experience, I can’t see any reason not to think a Forza Horizon 3 based on the same foundations of its predecessors would be anything less than brilliant.  And rather selfishly, the sooner I get more Forza Horizon, the better.

#31: Stunt Car Racer   #30: Badlands   #29: RVF Honda  #28: Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge  #27: Nitro  #26: Super Grand Prix  #25 Super Cars II  #24 Super RC Pro-Am #23 Sega Rally  #22 Wipeout 2097  #21 Micro Machines V3  #20 Gran Turismo #19 Need For Speed: High Stakes  #18 Colin McRae Rally 2.0  #17 Wave Race: Blue Storm #16 Grand Prix Challenge  #15 Project Gotham Racing 2  #14 F-Zero GX  #13 Mashed #12 Burnout 3: Takedown  #11 Ridge Racer  #10 Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast #9 Forza Motorsport 2  #8 Motorstorm: Pacific Rift  #7 Midnight Club: Los Angeles  #6 Dirt 2  #5 Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit  #4 Shift 2: Unleashed  #3 Sonic All-Star Racing: Transformed  #2 Forza Horizon #F1 2013: Classic Edition

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