Gaming

Perfect for racing fans

The details in Forza Horizon 4 are amazing, from the streets of Britain to the four seasons to the handling of the cars

Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities. Imagine my glee when I drove through the streets of the Scottish capital and past the Edinburgh Castle in my spanking new Ford Mustang GT supercar. It really happened, but only in Forza Horizon 4 (FH4).

This racing game has an open world that gathers the best areas for driving and scenic landscapes of Britain (Wales, Scotland and England) in one map. But Forza's version of Britain is one without the traffic congestion and rules.

The first Forza Horizon game was set in Colorado, the United States. The next two sequels brought gamers to the French Italian Riviera and Australia's Great Ocean Road.

Like its predecessors, players take part in the Horizon Festival, a car and music fiesta with plenty of parties and races all day and night on the open roads.

Your goal is to be the festival champion. To climb up the rankings, you have to enter festival races that vary from street to dirt-track races.

You also have to grapple with driving in different seasons. While the previous iterations came with day-and-night cycles with dynamic weather changes, such as from sunny to rainy, FH4 adds summer, spring, autumn and winter conditions into the mix.

The first few hours into FH4 are all about introducing you to the new season mechanics. You start with the summer festival. As you win races and show off your driving skills - by doing drifts or jumps - to increase your influence level, you will be able to enter the next season festival when you attain the required influence level.

You also earn in-game credits (used to upgrade and buy cars or buy clothing for your avatar) during these races and events.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: From $75 (PC; Xbox One version tested)

    GENRE: Racing

  • RATING

  • 9.5/10

There is a reason for this sequence. In the dry summer, your car has better grip, allowing you to rectify mistakes during driving. But in winter, the roads become snow-laden and slippery, which means players have to up their driving game.

Like in past games, you can race against drivatars - artificial intelligence avatars of real players. Your drivatar will do the same in other players' games to gain experience points for you when you are not driving in the game.

You can play FH4 solo through the entire campaign, or bring in real players who are online to race with you.

You have to finish all the four season festivals before you can qualify for the official Horizon roster. After which, the seasons will change every week.

But no matter what the season is, the graphics are gorgeous, from the breathtaking sunsets of the country roads to the authentically reproduced streets of Edinburgh.

The attention to detail is amazing. As I can still remember my way around Edinburgh's city centre, I can attest that the in-game city is almost identical to the real place, albeit on a smaller scale. I can remember where Scott Monument is and which way to turn to get to Edinburgh Castle.

Weather effects, such as rain, snow and lightning, are realistic too. It is a visual feast to be driving around Forza's Britain.

The cars look stunning too, whether it is an Audi TT or Ford F-150 truck. And you can feel the difference in handling when you drive the different models. For example, a rally-oriented Subaru Impreza WRX handles dirt tracks much better than a Ford Mustang GT muscle car. But the Mustang GT is king when it comes to a road race. So you need to select your car correctly before starting each race.

Not only do the cars handle differently, but they also sound different. The roar of the engine differs from car to car. Even the sound of tyres change when you drive on clean asphalt compared with dirt track.

Furthermore, when you are driving around Forza's Britain, there are different radio stations to tune in to for different music with deejay banter. So, you are never bored when driving to locations for the races and events.

• Verdict: If you are a racing fan who owns an Xbox One, Forza Horizon 4 is a must-have.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2018, with the headline 'Gaming Perfect for racing fans'. Print Edition | Subscribe