The serious alternative to Most Wanted's crazy open-world racing.
Before we knew it, December was upon us and all the games had arrived in stores in time for everyone to buy them as presents. We've got the reveal of our Game of the Year coming after Christmas, but for 24 days starting December 1 we'll bring you a new contender for the title. Please note that these games are in no particular order, but feel free to speculate on where they might appear in our final list.
Tom Orry, Editor
It's a shame Forza Horizon and Most Wanted launched within days of each other, as I'm pretty sure it forced many people to pick a side. For me I'm firmly in Team Forza's camp, with its beautiful open world combining with superb handling to create a game that is a joy to play. Open world racers usually come with compromises, whether it in the visuals or the handling, but Forza Horizon doesn't have any obvious blemishes. Compared to the mammoth career mode in Forza 4, Horizon's solo pursuits might seem a little brief, but the open roads add a sense of freedom and exploration that the closed off courses of Turn 10's game just can't compete with. With PGR seemingly not coming back to life (unless it has a next-gen awakening), I'm happy that Horizon will hopefully fill part of that void.
Martin Gaston, Reviews Editor
Forza's cheesy narrative really makes me want to dislike the game, so it's a testament to its whizzy driving that I find myself liking it very much. The Forza series has been trying to grow a personality for years now, culminating in this yoof-led offshoot from Playground Games. Despite being set in Colorado, though, I find the whole idea of the Horizon festival - think Glastonbury mixed with an auto show - otherworldly and alien, no matter how much the game tries to act like it's the kind of cool thing we'd all want to be involved in. What's next – mixing the Ideal Home Show with a Drum 'n' Bass club night?
David Scammell, Deputy News Editor
Here's the thing: I still believe that Most Wanted is a better game than Forza Horizon - despite the problems I have with Criterion's effort. But, I also think that Horizon is slightly better at being a racing game than Most Wanted. Let me explain.
Most Wanted nailed the thrill of driving within an open world, with its hidden hideaways, huge jumps and colossal amounts of collectible content providing a concrete playground well worth exploring. By comparison, Horizon's Colorado felt like a throwaway extra tagged onto a typical track racer: a dry, elaborate hub used for very little more than to drive between events.
But those events were great, weren't they? Racing against a helicopter, bi-plane, or even a hot air balloon felt fresh and exhilarating, taking all the best bits of DiRT and PGR to create a remarkable racer. On a technical level, Playground's game was phenomenal, too. Smoke and mirrors may have painted over the cracks in Horizon's sheen (look beyond the gloss and some of Horizon's texture work and environment modelling can appear fairly low res), but in terms of style, flair and art direction, there isn't a better looking racer on 360.