FORZA HORIZON 3

Crikey it’s a croc! That’s right mate, she’s a fair dinkum racing game designed for larrikins of all shapes and sizes to cut loose in the ute and fang around in your thongs looking for a spot to set up the barbie and knock back a few coldies. Welcome to Straya!

Once the initial introductory events are out of the way it’s all up to you how the rest of the game will play out.  You can decide to enter events ranging from point to point sprints to circuit races to ‘illegal’ street racing events. Earn rewards from driving clean or driving like a madman. You are the boss of the Horizon Festival and you are here to please the masses, gain a following and amaze the crowds with your driving prowess.

At the beginning you can choose what you look like from a line-up of attractive young people and choose your name and nickname that you will be called throughout the game. It is kind of weird having in game characters speak to me using my actual name. The storyline is fairly straight forward with minimal interaction other than having your assistant and mechanic chatter from time to time about a car you’ve unlocked or an event you may want to take part in.

Graphically this game sets the bar higher than any before it. The creators of FH3 have put so much time and effort into the visuals that you will find yourself stopping the car just to admire the landscapes, the skies and the beautiful beaches where they have done a sublime job recreating the shallow waters edge.  This is even more evident when played on Windows 10 for PC. With the settings bumped up to 4096 x 2160 @60fps this game is insanely good looking. Reflections, beaches, clouds, rain, sunstrike. While hours drift by it’s so clear and colourful you’d think Bill Cosby was mixing the drinks.

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Based on the brilliance of FH2 this game was a long time coming from its announcement for fans of the Forza Horizon series. I was lucky enough to get hands on back in June at E3 in Los Angeles which has made the last few months of waiting even more painful.

Offering a vast array of different fully customisable vehicles, events and driving styles that will hit the sweet spot for nearly any racing fan. The latest iteration has come to the party for drifters as you can now compete in drifting challenges that are located around the large open world map.

Let’s look at what’s in the menus.

We basically have the same style and setup as FH2 so for those that played the last one it will be a simple task to pick up and carry on. If you are new to the game then you will find the menus quite straight forward with the use of the shoulder buttons to move along the top tabs and then the d-pad will enable you to select the tiles.

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There are a ton of things to do.

In the HOME tab you’ll see your WORLD MAP where you can plan a route to the event you want to enter or just figure out where you are. The friendly sat nav ANNA is always on hand to guide you to an event or suggest something to do if you are nearby another player or event that you could enter. In Home you will also find Settings, Photo mode and Drone mode. You can also now pay to have a car delivered to you so you don’t have to get to a festival location to change vehicle. Beauty.

It’s worthwhile taking some time and looking through all the options in the menus to see what’s available and tweaking settings to suit your set up and preferences.

The SOCIAL tab offers Online Adventure where you can team up with friends to take part in any manner of racing events. The beauty here is that any progress made during team events still adds to your personal totals.

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The best aspect of this game is its customisation. It’s not just tinkering with how long a gear is or how much toe in or spring rate you’ve got on the front left. You can change every aspect of your cars mechanical setup and visual appearance. I can spend hours messing about creating vinyl stickers and personalised plates for my car. You can even choose your horn noise from a massive range of funky honkers. I can make a 2-wheel drive car 4-wheel drive, add a super charger, put wider and larger wheels on and select the tyre compound, swap an engine for something ridiculously overpowered and add any amount of tint to the windows or add a massive rear wing. You name it, it can be changed.

When you add this to a massive open world where you are not restricted to driving on the road and you’ve got a massive time waster on your hands and an even bigger smile on your face.

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Drift, speed, race, hoon.

The handling offers the best of both racing simulator and arcade feel and when you throw in a decent steering wheel and pedal setup you’ll be in driving paradise.

Linking skill chains by drifting, getting air, clean racing, smashing fences and bushes, near misses, speeding etc… earns you skill points that can be used to unlock perks and earn wheelspins to claim cash and car rewards. This means that even when you aren’t in a specific event you can be making progress by being a hoon.

For those that are more artistic you can find a perfect backdrop and enter photo mode to take some glamour shots of your favourite car or even just the scenery.

The Barnfinds are back again as well which makes for fun (or frustrating) times searching your map to locate classic cars that have been neglected in old barns and once discovered your mechanic will fully restore them and add them to your garage. If you don’t have the patience to wait for restoration you can pay him to prioritise your car and have it delivered straight away. I found that driving to the area of a barnfind and then entering drone mode was awesome for locating the barn quickly which would then show it on the map and you can drive straight to it.

Forza Horizon 3 has so much content and so many features I could go on and on about it all day but all I want to do is go and play it. Do yourself a favour and invest in this game. It’s great on Xbox One and absolutely breath taking on a high end PC. I should also mention that on PC the load times are lightning quick compared to Xbox so there’s even more time to enjoy playing. Available as part of the new XBOX PLAY ANYWHERE program it means you pay once for the digital copy on Xbox and you get it for Windows 10 on PC as well. (not available when purchased as a physical disc)

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This is my game of the year without a doubt.

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Matt

Co-founder & Head of digital content - HashtagMe. Tech lover and audio enthusiast. Husband, father, and casual gamer. Opinions are my own (once cleared by wife)