If you are a regular listener to the podcast, you know that I have a 3 year old son that is just beginning to discover the joys of gaming. He has watched me play many different titles, but nothing grabs his attention for too long; however, that changed when I fired up the Hot Wheels expansion for Forza Horizon 3. The opening intro changes from a movie to a race seamlessly and just like that we were flying down the instantly recognizable orange tracks, hitting boost pads and rocketing through corkscrews and loops while gigantic dinosaurs snapped at us (seriously). I laughed at the audacity of it while my son squealed with delight, and I knew right there this was going to be a great purchase for us.
As far as the nuts and bolts goes, the game is a standard Forza expansion at it’s core. A self contained island with miles of orange tracks, unique races and 10 exclusive cars are what you get for your $20 on paper, but the true value is in the change of the Forza gameplay formula. For the first time in Horizon 3 the races take on more of arcade racer feel. Think Blur from last generation or even Mario Kart even though there are no weapons you can use. The track variety, and the outlandish vehicles breath fresh air into one of the best games from last year. The events on the island are all leading up to the Hot Wheels Goliath Circuit which they bill as the ultimate stunt driving test course, and it does not disappoint. There are also multiplayer tracks and an edit feature for track creation for people far more creative than myself.
The Forza Horizon team finds the line between relying too much on nostalgia and reminding everyone what was great about the past and then rides it perfectly in this expansion. It helps to have a 3 year old cheering section for everything that is happening on screen, but it also is a great reminder of what works about this. It is silly. It is too loud, too fast, too bright to be taken seriously, but it isn’t trying to be. This is an expansion pack that owns what it is going for and as a result creates one of the most enjoyable racing experiences you can have.