Forza Horizon 3 Ultimate Edition (Digital)Overview -
Where other racing games play the waiting game, 'Forza' carries a broad weight that delivers on a yearly basis. Such has been the case since the introduction of the openworld 'Forza Horizon' back on the 360, which was later (2014) followed by the Xbox One & 360 'Forza Horizon 2.' Now, Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios are taking the game to the luscious landscapes of Australia.
'Forza Horizon 3' promises more cars (350+) in a much larger map (double the size of 'FH2') with a daunting number of events, and beyond that, a real change to the game's campaign and co-op structure, as well as a key bit of community driven customization which ought to really affect the nature of the game's racing events.
But simply having a new game in a great series with a host of smart, new gameplay features apparently wasn't enough for Microsoft. 'Forza Horizon 3' will debut as Microsoft's first HDR enabled title (via the Xbox One S and a compatible HDR display and arriving at almost the same time as 'NBA 2K17,' 'FH3' is nearly the first HDR enabled game anywhere). And still, there is more. 'Forza Horizon 3' debuts as one of the first Play Anywhere titles, that means that a cross buy Windows 10 version for digital buyers.
Before I plunge headlong into the game's HDR features, I think it's important to outright state that 'Forza Horizon 3' is a visual stunner, and that's thanks to many happy attributes. The landscape of exotic and remote locales, found in game's like 'Far Cry 2' and 'Uncharted 4' are extremely attractive to me. The 'Forza Horizon 3' Australian setting has this quality to near maximum degree. It's very much a case of oftentimes feeling a tug to just stop and enjoy view.
The game has special spots on the map which sort of do just that, as they momentarily frame some local vista taken from real life, but these moments don't do the landscape justice. (I need something like horses from 'RDR' or 'MGSV.')
The cars are brilliant, even if the carryover effect from prior games nags at me. (Here's that same 2015 interior from 'Forza 6' for example.) Little details, like the custom plates, the rims, the paint designs- these feed into my expectations quite well. I do wish sharing images of the game was easier. As both a reviewer and a player, I really want a smooth one button capture option. (I settled for the Chatpad button with very cumbersome results.)
Performance was impressive all around, though as of yet, I haven't gotten to try the game on the PC. It's 30fps on console, but it felt smooth. Pop-in was kept to the lower detail levels. Initially, I was frustrated by the HDR function, but as it turns out, there is a second, HDR specific brightness setting in the option. Once I adjusted that, I found the game's day/night cycle to be marvelous. (The detail in some of the loading screens is excellent, but with my display I have to be very careful about ambient light.) Flying through a field or smashing into a tree, will bring things back down to earth. Searching for Barn Finds will reveal some very samey looking buildings. A certain Italian dinosaur car looked like it had just been thrown up out of a much uglier game.
The game has a drone mode that is neat and useful. If it could be expanded some more, that luscious world could be a fun one to fly around.
I must admit to being disappointed with the festivals as a growing presence. What I mean is that the growth of each festival site, while opening more events, wasn't as dramatic as I expected. But then again, maybe I was thinking of achieving Mega City I levels of change.
I think from a home theater perspective, the game is softer in timber than I would like. And yet, there is a lot of noise and sound production on display at any given moment. From the radio stations, which are unlocking under the auspice signing each station, to the happy and helpful crew of NPCs (not to mention the new, more intelligent ANNA) to the individual car notes and ambient sounds, it's a crowded game. Road sounds seem to be the loser here, but the loss is ruinous.
I'm not sure that the Groove station was ready during the review period. If I can get it to work with OneDrive like it's meant to, that could be big. I did enjoy in-game music selection, with Epitaph and Horizon Pulse getting the most play. The nickname part of the game (Hello "Brian") worked great (something like this is needed in 'NBA 2K17'), and I never felt like ANNA needed to be outright silenced (which could have be done easily). Those are big plusses. (Spotify support , however unlikely, would be extremely welcome.)
Frankly, I was interested in unlocking Skills, and really couldn't muster much interest in unlocking custom horns.
The worst thing about 'Forza Horizon 3' is that it may have stolen me away from the 'Forza Motorsport' series for good. There's an important freedom to be found in the Australian festival racing, and the land is a gorgeous one when alight or after the rain. For those of us on the HDR train, this is close to must-have demo material, but it's tremendous fun on top of that. Playing casually or with a crazed glint in my eye, 'Forza Horizon 3' is a fantastic playground.
Crank Gets a Best Buy Exclusive 4K UHD SteelBook May 23By:
The High-Def Digest Forums Are No More - They Have Ceased To BeBy:
'The Greatest Showman' Announced for Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayBy:
High-Def Digest's Game of the Year 2016By: