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Forza Horizon Rally Expansion Review (X360)

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Forza Horizon Rally Expansion Review (X360)
Microsoft
The much anticipated rally racing expansion for Forza Horizon is finally here. For 1600 MSP ($20), or already included in the $50 DLC season pass for the game, you'll get five new cars, rally upgrades for all of the cars in the game, and a new standalone set of rally races. Is it worth the cost? Find out in our review.

Features

First off, this is an expansion for Forza Horizon, which means the original game is required to use it. Once you download it, it will add a new option to the main menu screen for the rally events. It, unfortunately, does not actually add anything to the open world of Forza Horizon and is instead a completely separate standalone mode where you just select events from the menu and run them with no open world or exploration at all. Kind of a letdown when the whole point of Horizon was exploration, but this seems as much like a beta test or proof of concept for a future rally title as much as anything. The courses themselves have multiple road surfaces - pavement, gravel, dirt - and have lots of narrow chutes, sharp turns, twisting chicanes, obstacles on the road like rocks or narrow fences, and more, and races also take place at multiple times of day and night. Also, the rally upgrades can be used outside of the rally mode, which means you can equip them on the offroad races in Forza Horizon for a bit of an advantage, which is cool.

The setup of the game is a very traditional rally setup. Each event is a series of point-to-point time trial stages where you're competing against the clock and the fastest total time compared to the rest of the field across all of the stages determines the winner. There are seven events, each with multiple stages, and each stage takes anywhere from 2-5 minutes to complete, so there is quite a bit of gameplay here.

Microsoft
The rally expansion comes with five new vehicles (or six if you have the season pass) but, strangely enough, the included specialty rally vehicles actually aren't all that good. It has to be noted that you aren't limited to just those five cars for the rally events, and you can actually upgrade any car in Forza Horizon with rally upgrades. The rally events do have maximum performance requirements, and some cars are too powerful to be downgraded enough to use in some of the events (you can't downgrade a stock "S" car to use in a "A" rank event, for example), but for the most part you'll be able to use any cars you want.

Which is a good thing, because as we mentioned above, the five new cars that come with the expansion are far from the best rally cars in the game. To be honest, the rally expansion is actually really quite difficult compared to the main Forza Horizon game, and posting times to keep up with the CPU drivers is really challenging even with "Easy" settings. Forget winning, just finishing a whole event in the top ten is difficult. But you do open up new events and make progress, at least. However, when we started using other cars from our garage instead of the five new ones, the game was a lot easier. Instead of struggling to keep up with the CPU's times, we were winning stages by a few seconds. If you are having trouble keeping up, a new car will definitely help.

Gameplay

The actual gameplay in the Horizon Rally is mostly what you'd expect. It takes the same arcadey-but-grounded-in-reality style of gameplay from Forza Horizon, but lets you slide around hairpin corners with ease. It is very accessible and easy to get into, even for rally newbies, and rewards aggressiveness much more than most rally games do. Since it has a rewind feature to erase any mistakes you make, and there isn't any damage in the game at all, there is no real sense of danger here. Games with better physics like DiRT 2, DiRT 3, or even the OG Xbox Rallisport Challenge 2 (not backward compatible, unfortunately) are better rally games if you are looking for something more true to the sport. Forza Horizon's rallies are fun, certainly, but not really a "real" rally experience.

Bottom Line

Microsoft
All in all, the rally expansion for Forza Horizon is decent. For $20, however, I don't think it was unreasonable to expect more especially when there are better stand alone rally titles on Xbox 360 for roughly the same price (or a few dollars more, but you'll get a lot more content). Don't get me wrong, the expansion is solid and plays well, but the value is a bit out of whack considering what it does and doesn't offer for $20. Wait for it to go on sale, or at least buy it with MS points you got on sale instead of full price.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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