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Forza Horizon 3- Better Than Ever...

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Forza has been a long standing flagship of the Xbox console. First released in 2005 (4 years after the console appeared in stores) and the next three instalments of the game hitting our shelves every two years thereafter, it’s certainly had a strong presence with Xbox gamers and car enthusiasts.

Often seen as challenging Playstation’s Gran Turismo, it is little wonder Forza has had such a presence. And it’s market grew wider still as the first Forza Horizon made an entrance in 2012, bringing a more arcade, open world style take on the driving simulator Motorsport series.

Built on the same solid race mechanics as its more serious predecessor, Forza Horizon’s popularity took off and it was soon evident that there was an untapped market just waiting for Turn 10 and Microsoft Studios. Not willing to let the standards of the Forza Motorsport series drop, Playground Games was handed the reigns of the valuable project and put their own expertise into making Forza Horizon 2 an even bigger success. This also allowed the freedom for yearly instalments of the game which has continued to keep the broad Forza fan base engaged.

With so much success to this point, it is not surprising how highly anticipated a third Horizon game would be. And as that first trailer launched, showcasing some incredibly impressive graphics in an as yet untouched country, Forza Horizon fans around the world were more than ready to get back into the festival and see what new experiences Forza had to offer…



History aside, its time to dive in to Forza Horizon 3 and get some tires squealing!

Taking a slightly different route than the last two games of the series, Horizon 3 will have you creating your own festival instead of just participating in it. On a jigsaw style map resembling the Australian east coast you are given notable destinations and tasked with creating an expanding a Horizon Festival at most of them. Starting in Byron Bay you’ll be thrown in the deep end performing ludicrous stunts aimed to impress and hopefully attain Fans.  The more fans you have the faster you will be able to take your festival to new locations with different tracks and events.

There is no way to describe that first glimpse of the Australian landscape presented in your very first moments with Forza Horizon 3 except to say- Wow! It’s immediately evident that such a visually stunning piece of work has had a lot of love and attention put into it. You could be forgiven for crashing a few times in those first races (not that I did *ahem*) because the scenery speeding past your window is just so eye catching and you want to take it all in.



True to its name Forza, which is the Italian word for “strength” or “force”, there is plenty of fast paced action to be had. Boasting over 350 cars that garage is fuller than ever before! The speed with which you are propelled across these varied landscapes is adrenaline inducing and it’s so much of the reason why Forza Horizon is such a thrill to be immersed in.



From Australian rainforests, to the stretching coast of the Twelve Apostles, beach side cities like Byron Bay and Sunshine Coast, to the red dusty sand dunes of a more central Australian “outback”, Forza Horizon 3 is bound to impress. And while the wide landscapes and starry nightscapes are certainly something to be in awe of it’s those little details which had me smiling. Street signs, wheelie bins, plastic outdoor chairs… there are so many iconic Aussie things that Playground Games have paid attention to and given us the opportunity to utterly destroy!



Forza’s generosity is one thing that has not changed over the Horizon series, except to be improved. Barn Finds are still there, offering a few Aussie legends in the mix this time. And you will be able to claim some free cars to get you started on the first several races.

There is a reward for just about anything you do. You’re rewarded for your picket fence destruction as much as you are for your accuracy in a drift zone. For catastrophic fails as well as perfect driving. Which means no matter how you play this game you’ll be feeling pretty great about the results. There really is something to appeal to everyone here.



Throughout the game you’ll have your Irish festival coordinator, Kiera, and your “slightly unconvincingly Aussie” mechanic, Warren guiding you forward and teaching you all you need to know. Your onboard digital assistant, ANNA, is back and better than ever. You've also been given the ability to choose your own avatar and a name or nickname from a preset list which the in game characters will refer to you by. Vanity plates are included wo give your cars that little bit more of a custom feel.
ANNA is now able to be commanded via voice control or with the D-pad on your controller (for console players) you don’t even have to access your menu most of the time. With such a great power team you won’t be left wandering aimlessly around unless you want to be, and objectives are always clear.



So guided gaming is definitely there, but what about a free roam approach? There is so much to keep you entertained in the world around you that you’ll likely never be bored. You have speed traps, stunts, special events, and even a new drone mode (ideally designed for content creators) to keep you entertained. You’ll find drivatars of your friends cruising the world with you and you can instigate a convoy for a casual drive with friends, or challenge them to enlist them to your club. Multiplayer additions have been made as well for Horizon 3 with Coop, Online Adventure, and much more now available. Online club creation has been brought in too.

All the above already makes for a truly sensational game. But Forza does not stop there! One of the greatest and most unique features for Forza has always been the deeper level customisation. It’s been a key feature of the Motorsport series for some time and was included in Horizon 2. As with everything else, it’s now bigger and better. For those who love to create their own vinyls, tune the car to the enth degree, Horizon 3 will let you do so. It will also encourage you to share your content and will provide in game monetary rewards if your work becomes popular.



While this feature was active in Horizon 2, it’s been fine-tuned and has become far more lucrative so is well work a look. Of course this also means that there is as much benefit for those who want a unique car without all the effort. Customisations can easily be downloaded and applied to your car in no time, so everyone benefits here!

A new feature through your menu is the auction house. If you’ve got a car you want to get rid of, or you’ve created a one of a kind monster and want to see how much it will fetch at auction then you’re in luck! With both bidding and buy out options, cars can be bought and sold at will between players so you’ll always have in your garage the cars you really want.



Behind all of this rich and immersive game play you will have multiple radio stations playing different genres of music. There are more stations now than before and the addition of your own customisable radio station which will play all your own music should you not find what you want elsewhere.

There is so much to talk about with Forza Horizon 3, and I’ve really only scratched the surface. It really is a game which can appeal to anyone, car fan or not. And what I love most about Forza is that they have managed to create variety without compromising on quality.




Forza Horizon 3 is available on Xbox One and PC, and is Play Anywhere enabled for Win10.
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