When you hit rank 40 in Forza Horizon 4, a series of events unlocks which is hosted by a vapid streamer character and framed as a countdown of the 10 greatest cars in video games. What it actually is is a tribute, by the developers at Playground Games, to their inspirations: the freewheeling worlds of Test Drive and Smuggler’s Run and the sun-drenched zest of the Sega arcade classics OutRun, Daytona and Crazy Taxi. It’s a gesture that could only have been more gracious if it had tipped its hat to the original car-culture collect-’em-up, Gran Turismo. The most sincere of the tributes, though, honours Project Gotham Racing by taking us back to the streets of Edinburgh for the first time since PGR2, and illustrating how that series’ Kudos score, which rewarded stylish driving, inspired Forza Horizon’s own skill point system.
Six years and four games in, Forza Horizon would not be out of place on such a list itself. Playground’s open-world racing games have outstripped their parent franchise, Forza Motorsport, in both sales and reputation, and wowed players and critics (myself included) with their beauty, technical polish, accessibility, authenticity and sheer fun. From the very first game, they have defined open-world racing and embodied the joy of the open road with a formula that was all but perfected by the third outing. Forza Horizon can now undoubtedly count itself one of the racing game greats. So where next?
In literal terms, home to Britain, where Playground Games is based. I wrote about the map in my initial impressions last week; at this point in this remarkably consistent series you can take it as read that it will be a gorgeous, elegantly romanticised pocket grand tour of the British mainland, big but not too big, balancing brickyard playpens with open moorland, city streets with sweeping coast roads, rollercoaster dirt tracks in the hills with crowded flatland freeways. There will be secrets and spectacle and thrilling, hard-charging circuit and point-to-point layouts to be found everywhere, both on- and off-road. Of course there will. (It helps that it makes Britain so beautiful; these days, I’ll take any reason to feel good about living here that I can get.)
Source: Eurogamer Forza Horizon 4 review: racing great rolls gingerly into new era