Okay. My $15 copy came in, so I spent some non-demo time with this. My demo impressions still hold up very well. Forza Horizon is an extremely polished, soulless corporate product. Peaking through the polish though are some pretty glaring problems.
The map is minuscule. In three play sessions I did 100% exploration of all 216 roads. This puts the map size at roughly a fifth of Test Drive Unlimited, and probably 1/15 the size of TDU2. The fact that the game is almost entirely tunnels-disguised-as-roads helps reinforce that claustrophobic feeling even further.
The misogyny is blatant and abundant. Women exist in this game exclusively for the camera to zoom in on their asses in hot pants. Any time a female voice comes through the speakers, it drips with the sound of "I was designed by committee to sound sexually exciting". It's obvious and it's insulting.
The audio cues ignore your progress in the game, and repeat themselves endlessly. "Hey, did you know you can smash signs for a discount?!?" comes in over my radio moments after smashing sign 84/100. "Hey, come run this sponsored event!" is repeated to me every three minutes over my character's headset, even though I am obviously ignoring it because I'm having fun doing something else.
The map hates the player. TDU lets you fast travel to anywhere that you have previously driven. Forza requires a fee, and even then you spend far too much time driving between events. There is no good reason for this, and the better example obviously already exists to emulate.
Free-To-Play micro-transactions are so liberally littered throughout the game, and constantly thrown in your face, that I feel ripped off spending even $15 on this crap. "Want a new car? Give us two dollars! Oh you have credits? Are you sure you don't want to give us two dollars anyway? Alright...." "Want to look at the map? Here's a reminder that you can give us $5 for a better version!" This is how you run a F2P South Korean MMO, not how you run a $60 retail game.
This game hates you as the player. I guarantee that you have something else sitting on your shelf waiting to be played that is far more deserving of your attention. Oh, you don't have anything else to play right now? Allow me to recommend 50 Cent: Blood On The Sand. It is somehow less misogynistic than this racing game, it's borderline racist, but it's also so tongue-in-cheek that it pulls it off brilliantly. It is far closer to social commentary than outright offensive, is a very solid cover-shooter, and is far, far more enjoyable than Forza Horizon.
We have two hopes: A) Forza Horizon sells so terribly that Microsoft kills the spin-off outright. B) Playground picks up some people from the shuttered Eden and learns from them how to make an open world racer that loves the player.
AVOID THIS GAME.Edited by darklordjames - 12/3/12 at 7:43pm