Combining a great mix of tuner culture, realistic settings, new standards in graphics and a perfectly balanced car list that offered something for everyone, Turn 10’s Forza Horizon series was an instant hit when it came out in 2012. It even overshadowed their flagship Forza Motorsport simulators to some extent as well. Last month, they launched their latest in series–Forza Horizon 4.
Set in the UK, FH4 immediately turns things up a notch by giving you a comprehensive preview of what's in store with their latest innovation in the arcade racing genre—changing seasons. Featuring a wide range of changes to the game modes, car tunes and the game world through the cycling of Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring, FH4 essentially packs four different games into one. Your McLaren Senna handles like a grippy go-kart in sun-soaked Summer, gets unsettled by falling leaves in Autumn, gets stuck in the snow and slides about on sheet ice in Winter, and has you grappling for grip in the puddles left behind as the ice melts and Spring sets in. Of course, if you'd rather drive something purpose built for the harsher terrain, feel free to switch to the huge range of SUVs, extreme off-roaders or trophy trucks (or the latest addition of race trucks) to tackle the changing seasons.
The seasons have a profound effect on the gameplay. The complete changes to the map and the game world in the changing of seasons leaves its mark and makes the game worthwhile, rather than feeling like a gimmick. However, with Winter bringing about the most changes to the game environment, you're left feeling a little lost in the other seasons.
The racing is as varied and as fun as before. FH4 is also quite rewarding in multiplayer, more so because of the UK setting—feel free to indulge in aping a few Top Gear style road-trips in old cars or exotics, or recreate Clarkson's Farmkhana shenanigans and get a friend to film the whole thing in drone mode. The possibilities are endless.
Car customisation gets a bump as well. More cars get unique upgrades than in FH3, allowing you to build them with widebody kits and engine swaps than ever before. The car list has a few glaring exemptions—Mitsubishi and Toyota are absent as a whole, a result of short sighted licensing on the part of the Turn 10 legal team, no doubt. The barn finds are just as cool—we won't name them and ruin the surprise, but they're quite…British.
Overall, Forza Horizon 4 is a fantastic game that adds a lot of qualities to a very good base. The few flaws lie in a lack of excitement in the activities and the subpar character customisation—it can feel a bit repetitive at times, while the addition of clothing items into the wheelspins make no sense. No one really wants to win a “pleated white skirt” from a hard-earned wheelspin they got from stringing together a bunch of badass car stunts. Other than that, FH4 is a sweet escape for any gearhead and you can easily sink six plus hours into the game on a daily basis.