Forza Horizon Rally Expansion Pack review
To Rally or not to Rally? Gran Turismo proved that a Rally element of racing need not be a bolt on to a game to tick the proverbial box, but a valid, worthwhile and genuine representation of the sport can be done on the same disc as a track racing simulator. Does it dilute the brand? The opinion is out on that one, but it is essentially down to how the developers treat the importance of getting it right. The omission of Rally cars from Forza 4 paused few to grimace as the loyal fanbase of Turn 10’s franchise are there for predominantly two things; the track racing and the livery customisation, so Rallying would have always been seen as a bonus.
Forza Horizon however is a different kettle of fish; the open world teeming with new discoveries on every drive is the game’s greatest gift to players. The rally expansion has no free world roaming; its whole identity is a series of Rally cups culminating in the Horizon World Champion being crowned. This is juxtaposition given the game it’s being bolted onto encourages and rewards free play, so one would be forgiven for feeling that the rally expansion is more of an experiment by Turn 10 to judge consumer desire for such a departure to become mainstream perhaps in Forza 5.
There are twenty stages in all enabling you to hurtle through the Colorado Mountains and bush at breakneck speed, narrowly avoiding deceptively placed obstacles, rising and falling suddenly with the state’s terrain. There is no denying that graphically the game is very, very nice to look at, especially with the day and night cycle evident here as it is in the main game, but the rallying difficulty maybe a surprise to some.
Fast from the beginning.
Starting in a promotion car to qualify for the series (though I doubt you cannot qualify once you have handed over your 1600 MSP) it is quickly evident how “rally like” the game is. Not quite as forgiving as DiRT but not as unforgiving as WRC, Horizon Rallying sits comfortably between the two. The twenty stages split across seven cups well test your concentration to the limit if you wish to rise through the fifty competitors to be crowned world champion, with the top ten drivers putting in astonishingly quick times from the start. That’s not unfair times but remember – you have spent the last month racing your Subaru on the track, honing apex turns and getting used to your favourite car sliding slightly on tarmac before you find grip and accelerate out of a sweeping right hander, only to now face tunnel vision as you try and keep a straight line at 90 miles an hour through a valley of stone and timber.
It’s a daunting, unforgiving run you have through each stage (unless you cheat and use the rewind feature) but the sense of reward when you finally come first is tantamount to pure ecstasy. That’s when you realise that Turn 10 have pulled a fine trick with the rally expansion. Where the trick falls flat on its face is when you realise that at the price-point it is at, it is unlikely to convert many fans from the likes of DiRT when it’s priced similarly now at retail and offers a galaxy of content in comparison.
The Rally expansion is a fantastic addition to Horizon and one welcome alongside the next mainstream Forza. In its current form it’s a shame it’s not a part of the open world of Horizon’s main game rather than being isolated from it, and as a bolt on it’s simply priced too high. On the positive side, it’s Christmas and if you feel like treating yourself or you have the season pass, you won’t be disappointed.