Wednesday 14 November 2018

Forza Horizon 4 review: Four seasons in one game

(XO/PC) ★★★★★ Age: 7+

Forza Horizon 4: The cover star is the McLaren Senna supercar
Forza Horizon 4: The cover star is the McLaren Senna supercar
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads!" Forza Horizon takes its inspiration from myriad sources but perhaps none more so than Doc Brown's line in Back to the Future.

The arcade racing series has matured over four games to become one of Microsoft's crucial exclusives to stem the flood of players away to PlayStation.

Despite its corporate importance (the developer was recently acquired by Microsoft), Forza remains gleefully silly and unreal - not least by torturing the laws of physics such that the cars can smash harmlessly through walls, upend trees and jump hundreds of metres only to land unscathed. Why follow the roads when you can romp through the fields more directly to your destination?

But FH4 has more to offer than mindless driving in an utterly gorgeous open world version of northern Britain. It's less apparent until you complete the introductory "year", which exposes you to the game's other big item: seasons. Once you've clocked the difference between the surfaces in summer, autumn, winter and spring, you're let loose into a much more satisfying multiplayer version where the seasons rotate a year in a real-world week.

Teaming up or battling rivals in races becomes utterly exhilarating, a whirl of 450 cars, vast tracts of scenic landscape and that delicious not-quite-real handling model.

 

Read more: Interview - Forza Horizon 4 boss talks Irish DLC, microtransactions and how the series has become progressively more outrageous

 

 

FIFA 19

(XO/PS4/PC) ★★★★★ Age: 3+

The most complete, most rounded version of football acquires the missing link: the Champions League licence. And, boy, does FIFA 19 milk it. Fine if you care about such things.

But 19's advances are more rewarding elsewhere - such as your choice of house rules (matches where you can score only from outside the box or from headers, etc). 'The Journey' (FIFA's story mode) ropes in three playable characters instead of one for its shot-at-the-big-time shtick. Animation tweaks result in better (ie, less predictable) gameplay while pack odds have at last been added to 'Ultimate Team', the wildly popular card-collecting mode.

Stuffed with content and lavishly presented, it's almost possible to ignore the faint nagging sense its minnow rival PES still offers the better game of footy.

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