The word we use in Australia for what Americans call doing doughnuts is “circle work.” At this time I’m doing some spectacular circle work around an outback airstrip in a custom V8 ute with the trimmings. I’m talking high-powered spotlights, a CB antenna sticking proudly up in to the air, and a huge, mesh-filled roo bar that appears like it’s fallen off leading of a Kenworth. ‘Thunderstruck’ is banging on my stereo and the tacho needle is banging on the redline. That is Forza Horizon 3 for me personally; an event that could only get more Australian if it had been delivered in the giant jar of Vegemite by Paul Hogan crashing into your living room riding a genuine crocodile.
But maybe that’s not your bag. You might prefer classic American muscle, or simply you’re more partial to Japanese tuners from the turn of the century, or possibly you haven’t got time for not European hypercars. That’s okay too, for the reason that Forza franchise is well-known for its wonderfully eclectic method of car curation and Forza Horizon 3 is no exception; it’s still the very best available. The big difference here’s that using its new degree of car customisation and personalisation, a remarkably malleable career experience which can be played solo or co-op with friends, and even baked-in support for a soundtrack of your choosing, Horizon 3 could be bent to your desires like nothing you’ve seen prior in the series. Coupled with dazzling landscapes and lights, outstanding sound design, and well-honed driving dynamics, the email address details are absolutely fantastic.
Great Southern Land
The standard because of this series is quite high. Back 2014 Forza Horizon 2 delivered us a sumptuous slab of Mediterranean coastline; an outstanding, summertime jaunt through the rolling fields and quaint seaside towns of southern Europe that felt enjoy it was lifted from an bout of Top Gear. It’s lovely, truly.
And Horizon 3’s world just crushes it. The cars could be the stars here, but it’s the stage that steals the show.
The cars could be the stars here, but it’s the stage that steals the show.
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There isn’t anybody reason, but many that accumulate. The focus on detail, for instance, is magnificent, and as an Australian it’s certainly something I could wholly vouch for. The street markings, the road signs, even the garbage bins with their multi-coloured lids. It’s eerie, really. The lighting is astonishing, too, with the amazingly traditional sky bathing the complete environment in uncannily realistic sunlight and casting crisper shadows. (The latter are in their most excellent as you wind through the thick rainforest sections as sunlight tries to pierce through the tall trees.) Water plays a major part, too, and not simply for the reason that entire place looks better still slick from rain. From the gently sloshing waves by the Twelve Apostles to the wake created by your wheels as you putter across shallow streams is first class.
Its greatest strength is just about the sheer selection of landscapes, though. Horizon 3 remains dwarfed by famous brands The Crew’s impressively large map, nonetheless it packs a pile of vastly different terrains into its Australian backdrop. There’s a quiet coastal town, using its picturesque beaches, and the rolling fields between it and the high-rise, urban metropolis of Surfers Paradise. There’s the damp and dense rainforest carpeted with thick undergrowth around closely packed trees. There’s also rural wine country that provides way to the sparse red dust and isolated farms of the outback. If anything, Horizon 3’s outback zone isn’t really big enough to communicate the sheer vastness of genuine that I’d yearned for (shelve your hopes of any arrow-straight highways disappearing over the, er, horizon) but it’s yet a noticeable improvement over Horizon 2 where all corners of the map felt largely similar to one another.
The lighting certainly helps a good deal, though, as the dissimilarities between each area are also heightened by Horizon 3’s new global illumination lighting system. It offers the outback a different hue to, say, the rainforest zone as the light accumulates an orange tint from the sunburnt soil. The complete environment looks extra special in the pitch black of night, too, with the red glow of the roadside reflectors and the glint of approaching signs giving an answer to your car’s headlights.
Global illumination also does wonders for the automobile models, seating them on the planet much better than ever. It’s perhaps telling that even though I’m a dyed-in-the-wool cabin view enthusiast I’m finding myself a lot more regularly opting to cruise with the chase cam to marvel at what sort of cars gleam and grab realistic reflections, even of the clouds above. Cabin view, however, is the better seat inside your home that to behold Horizon 3’s wet weather. It’s improved markedly from Horizon 2, with droplets now streaking over the glass and being shoved around by the wipers, as observed in last year’s Forza Motorsport 6.