When examining the history of Forza Motorsport the Horizon series could be perceived as the younger, upstart sibling to the family.
Unlike the Forza motorsport series, which prides itself on unbelievable attention to detail there’s a greater emphasis on pure enjoyment in Horizon, rather than spending hours tweaking the downforce settings for your bespoke Forza chin spoiler. It’s a relaxed affair. Or so we were led to believe.
But it’s so, so not.
It’s not a relaxed affair at all. It’s torrid, love-filled, and passionate. It’s an affair that’s fit to burst if we see a flared wheel arch, or a curvaceous line of carbon fibre. It’s all consuming and addictive. In short, it’s a game we hate to love.
The E3 trailer for the forthcoming Forza Horizon 3 sums that up perfectly, even down to the choice of song. The lyrics echo how I feel. It’s just a game – a pixelated offering of some of the most beautiful cars in the world. They’re not even real. And that’s why I don’t want to fall in love with it. It’s why I shouldn’t fall in love with it.
But like most, Forza Horizon 3, and the Forza family in general, is the closest I’ll probably come to driving a supercar with a group of friends. It reels you in, seduces you with lines that would be better suited to a supermodel. It immerses you with the thunderous baritones of Ferrari and the raucous echo of Lamborghini. It teases you with the sheer beauty of Aston Martin, it gradually seduces you with a range of cars that go from small and friendly to “hold on to your pants”.
And the beauty of it all? You don’t have to be competitive to appreciate it. You just need to be human.
Unlike every other type of driving game out there, I spend just as much time appreciating the cars on Forza as I do racing them. I thunder through tunnels with the volume turned up to eleven, much to my wife’s dismay, just so I can hear the throaty echo. I park up on winding roads so the pixelated sun above can brush its warm, outstretched hand over the car, glinting off each and every detail. And I love watching droplets of rain meander down the shapely bonnet (hood) of my prized collection, when most others would be drifting or crashing.
I take my time to appreciate it.
To those who don’t play Forza or to those who don’t even play videogames this almost obsessive sense of belonging probably seems absurd. And that’s because it is. I shouldn’t really care about a collection of cars that I don’t actually have, in a garage that I don’t own, racing on roads that aren’t there.
It’s all make-believe.
But I don’t play Forza because it’s the closest I’ll come to the real thing. Because, let’s be honest, there’s nothing like this in existence in the real world.
I play because I enjoy sweeping vistas of unparalleled beauty. I play because V12s and V10s sound like heaven. I play because digital roads can be as good as if not better than their real-world counterparts. I play because I can enjoy the throaty roar of an engine without disturbing the neighbourhood, or giving someone’s grandmother a heart attack. I play because Forza is the pursuit of automotive perfection.
I play not because I choose to, but because I must.
I am Forza.
How does Forza make you feel?