Review of Forza Horizon 4 for the Xbox One
By: Jeff R. Young

Greetings my fellow gamers, I trust and hope everyone is holding up well under all this craziness. For myself, my family and I are riding it out the best we can; fortunately, I still get to game! I don't know if I ever gave a little bit of a bio on myself. When it comes to video games, I stand somewhere in the middle of an extreme gamer and a hobbyist. My favorite genres are RPG and strategy styles, like the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series, as well as games like Civilisation, City Skylines, and the like. These are the kind of games I can grind away at for hours at a time and never get bored, as they have a lot to offer in the way of replayability. That, to me, the fact that I could go back and play a game again and enjoy it makes the investment into the product worth it.

With that said, I am not to keen on first–person shooters like Call Of Duty (Battlefront II being an exception), button–mashing combat games like Mortal Kombat, or racing games like Need For Speed. It's not for lack of trying, I have tested out many of the platforms but just couldn't get my heart into them. And, for the sake of honesty, I'm horrible at them. I'll tell you if there were an award for the most deaths in a single match of Call Of Duty, I would have a plethora of trophies hanging on my office wall. The same goes for racing simulation games where I tend to go from 0 to 60 in seconds before going 100 to 0 in a blink. These kinds of games frustrate me, so I would shy away from them and go back to my comfort zone of the RPG. Until recently, that is.

A friend of mine, who knew I started doing these reviews, asked me to join to play, and ultimately review a game I never, ever, intended on playing: that being, Forza Horizon 4. I thought, what the heck, I'll humor him and drive around a little bit, complain about how bored I am or whatever excuse I could imagine and move on. Nope, things didn't quite work that way. When I entered the living world space of Forza, I was utterly blown away. When I say “living,” I mean that in all aspects. It is an entirely open–world, online for multiplayer fun, and designed around an actual timetable. This game is so big, I am afraid my review is not going to do it justice. I have to laugh at myself some as I don't even know where to begin.

Forza Horizon 4 launched October 2 of 2018, becoming the fourth edition to the Forza Horizon series but also the eleventh in the whole Forza series. The title released to both Xbox 1 and PC platforms (sorry PS4 players, you have to sit this one out) and quickly became a gaming hit. In the short lifespan, it had in what was left of 2018, it brought home a handful of rewards such as Best Racing Game, Xbox Game of the year, and best Sports/Driving Game. 2019 was just as fruitful as it racked in seven more awards. Much of its renown is born from its innovative seasons' system. That's right, the open–world not only has a day and night cycle, a weather system but also cycles through the four seasons (and I don't mean the band).

Forza developers created an intricate time scale, with one real–life week equaling three full months of in–game time. As mentioned, there is a day and night cycle and a dynamic weather system that plays a severe effect on how your car handles just as it would in real–life situations. Many games I have played, like the RPG's, have weather systems and day/night cycles in them, but nothing as innovative as this, and is in my opinion one the most impressive aspects of the game.

As I dove into the game, I was, like I suspect most players were, looking forward to getting into a fast car to race around the fictional Great Brittan countryside. I figured I'd get a couple of interesting vehicles to tease me into trying to unlock a handful more. I would race a few times, get those new cars, and when there was nothing left to achieve, I would become bored. This, my friends, is why I shouldn't ponder complex opinions before I know what I am talking about, or as they say, judge a book by its cover.

First off, you start the game by choosing one of three cars. Even though I did that, I began playing after all the DLC's and car packs came out, so after downloading them, I had a considerable variety right away. So, as per my friends' suggestion, I went to the “Show Room” where you can purchase new cars and let me tell you…mind blown! Between what you can buy with the credits you win, what you can earn through races or mini–games, or collect from downloadable content, there are over 600 vehicles. That's insane because the vast majority are not fictional vehicles; they are real–life recreations. I didn't even know that many models existed!

So, I started collecting cars using credits (money) I earned by completing different races, playing through some of the story–based missions, or completing stunt activities. Once I had a satisfying number of cars in my garage as it's called, I moved to the next step, upgrading.

Let me be perfectly honest, my base knowledge of vehicle engines, or cars vehicles in general, ends with the wheels on the bus go round and round. I used to be able to change the oil, sparkplugs, and tires, anything simple. Then, the modern–day car became a computer on wheels, and what little I could do was narrowed down to changing a tire. So you might imagine that when I found the game allowing the player to upgrade the engines, tweak the intricate setting for things like the shocks or breaks, exhaust, Camshafts, or Displacement (whatever that is?), I found myself way out of my depth and comfort zone.

I did find something I could get into, painting and designing art for the cars. In the couple of months I have been playing the game, I have spent more time in the auction house, which is another feature I should mention, buying and selling my cars with other players. It's not often, but in the auction house, one might (although there is a very slim chance) obtain a car like Porsche 911 Turbo, which sells for 100,000 credits for 40,000 if the seller is desperate. Of course, there are also cars like Jaguar D–type, which sells for 3 million credits by a seller who's upgraded the vehicle into a racing beast and is now selling it for 6 million. Anyway, back to painting.

Forza Horizon offers, to my surprised and joy, the ability to not only paint each car with typical or specialized colors, but you can also design graphic art, like airbrushing. One drawback is that it is not an easy endeavor. Creating visual art pictures is a lengthy and tedious process that was very confusing to figure out. I have created what I would call mediocre art, but have seen and downloaded to add to my cars some wild and beautiful pieces of work. That's one of the neater features as well, as you can share your art, your stunning packages for cars, and any in–game photos you've taken with the entire player community. My art isn't famous, but I have had, and I don't like to brag, almost thirty people download my work. Compared to some artists who range at over ten–thousand downloads, I think I'm well on my way. I've done my best to offer you a taste of the awesomeness and vast scale of the game. However, it is, in the end, a racing game.

At first glance, I was looking for everything I would dislike about Forza. And true to myself, I found I was getting bored with the racing aspect. I did my due diligence and raced on every level, from the inexperienced settings, which I did well on, to the expert level settings, which I did laughably horrible. Remember my 100 to 0 in a blinks analogy? Well, with some of the cars I've collected, it's now a 275 mph to 0 in a blink. Same outcome, just faster. Mechanically speaking, while you are racing around at 250 mph, the graphics are incredibly crisp. I had expected some amount of lagging issues, being it is an open world online platform. But there is none that I found. The only lag issues I found came with the loading screens, which, if I found that a game–breaking problem, I don't deserve to do these reviews. As far as the online concept goes, I did find that I would drop from the server from time to time. It would automatically refresh and load me back in, and as it did so, never broke my game.

To wind this down, if you decide that racing around with strangers on the game is not your cup of tea, you can make your way through the ranks using the solo gameplay. This doesn't mean you are not online, you are, and the other players are living their virtual Forza life as usual. Instead, you race against what they call drivatars. These are the avatars of your friends who play the Forza game. So, in essence, you are racing against your friends although the computer plays them. My daughter gets a real kick out of this feature since her Drivatar beats me quite a bit, and she doesn't even need to play the game.

There is just so much Forza offers that I do not have the words space to do it real justice. Nor have I been able to find bad aspects of the game except for my usual disliking of racing simulators. This game offers more replayability than any game I have encountered simply because there is no end. Sure, it has its mission–based scenarios that, when completed, one may never do again, but the whole of the world is ever–changing.

It pains me to admit that Forza is a fantastic game that any racing fan should set out to play. If there where more racing games of this scope and detail on the market, I might just be persuaded to join the racing community. I'd even try to further my knowledge of cars past knowing where the brake and gas pedals are, and learn to tune more than just the radio.

All said Forza Horizon 4 gets a four out of five stars. I honestly tried to find a reason not to like this game, but Playground Games and Microsoft Studios took that away from me. Maybe I'll dislike Forza Horizon 5 when it is released, but somehow, I doubt it. That's it for this month, my friends, remember to look me up on either Xbox or the PS4 under wickedwisdom66. And for those of you who might wish to request a game to be reviewed, you can contact me through email at wickedwisdom66@outlook.com. If it's within my power to obtain the game, it would be a pleasure to try it out.

Game on my friends!