The lights are on
Two games are at the starting line, set to race off into the open frontier. We take a look at Criterion's Need for Speed Most Wanted and Playground Games' Forza Horizon and size up these two contenders.
Back in 2010, two racing games, Black Rock Studio's Split/Second and Bizarre Creations' Blur, went head-to-head on store shelves. Although the titles weren't completely similar, they defined the racing genre at the moment. This October, Forza Horizon (above) and Need for Speed Most Wanted will go up against each other and present their own visions of open-world racing.
Coming off of E3, where I got a chance to see and get some hands-on time with both games, I thought it would be useful to compare them in a few key categories. Of course, a lot of development time remains before October and I don't know every detail about either title, but this might give you a better look at both and help you determine if one is more up your alley.
The game is set in Colorado, and Playground Games says that the real-world location was chosen for its variety of roads, from mountain passes to wide-open straightaways and offloading opportunities.
Most Wanted's world is fictional, and therefore, intentionally filled with a variety of environment types. It features urban streets, country roads, and other distinct districts.
You'll get race events through the Horizon Festival, but there is plenty to do in the world itself such as finding new roads, breaking gates, and challenging other racers in the environment. Playground didn't talk about all the event types in Horizon, but it's expected that it will have the usual complement of race types from the racing genre.
You'll accrue Speed Points for everything you do in the world. Criterion hasn't gone into great detail on all the racing events you'll encounter. However, I expect it'll contain the usual suspects. That being said, Burnout Paradise was chock full of stuff to do, and so should Most Wanted.
We don't know the full car lineups of either title at this point, but both will have licensed cars. Horizons' rides won't feel exactly like their counterpoints in the Forza series, but they won't go totally arcade either. In the time I had with the game, I could feel the power of my racing machine, and I kept control of it with steady steering, careful use of the gas, and judicious breaking. I'm curious if car upgrades in the game will be handled in a granular, Forza-like fashion or if they'll be more package-based.
Criterion takes great pride in their racing gameplay, and what they've crafted for Most Wanted is pure Criterion. It encourages you to go full throttle, but it's not a brainless arcade racer. Evading the cops and navigating the environment at the same time will surely test your driving skills. As for car upgrades, I expect these to be more package-based or to encourage the switching of cars wholesale, but that's strictly a hunch.
NFS has online events like standard multiplayer races (12 cars), team races, and stuff like a longest jump contest. Between events you race to event starting points and free roam in the world instead of going to a menu.
It looks great like other Forza titles, and the Colorado scenery certainly adds to Horizon's visual delight.
Most Wanted's world and cars look good, but the sense of speed is more noteworthy.
Apart from Kinect voice integration for a GPS map tool, perhaps the most intriguing X-factor for the game is its Horizon Festival setting. Developer Playground has worked hard on this, and even hired a festival DJ to help construct the proper vibe. The Festival serves as the game's hub, where you can customize your car, buy new ones, and more. If done right, this could be a very cool place to hang out.
The game feels similar to Burnout Paradise, but there might be more to it than that. Autolog erases the difference between playing online or off, and the police in Most Wanted are key to the franchise. I'm excited to discover crazy activities in the world, and I expect the game's crashes to live up to Criterion's standards.
Need for Speed Most Wanted (click either title to look at their E3 trailers) comes out for PS3, Xbox 360, PC, and Vita on October 30.
Forza Horizon hits the Xbox 360 on October 23.
Note: The original story listed NFS Most Wanted as having offline, splitscreen multiplayer. It does not. The text has been corrected to reflect this error. Sorry.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
I am definitely more interested in Need For Speed, as I am a huge burnout fan, but Forza looks pretty decent too.
Just a small correction but in the Multiplayer section you called Most Wanted Horizon. Anyway I sold my xbox a while ago so im not too excited about Horizon (although I certainly wouldn't mind getting my hands on it). Im a big fan of Burnout Paradise, I still play it occasionally, so im really excited about Most Wanted.
Im leaning toward nfs, mainly because i love everything criterion has ever done. Though horizon will be good too.
Burnout 3:Takedown wins.
I liked Burnout Paradise as well as the original Most Wanted. So, I'll be looking into this game.
Just make a new burnout game already!
I was hoping someone would compare these two upcoming racers. Nice article.
if i had an xbox horizon would be my game ive wanted a free roam game with realistic physics for a while now
I really want Most Wanted.
Bring customization back or Criterion isn't getting my money.
Hands down, NFS:MW!
Probably both for me. As I've said many times here, I love Criterion and they actually got me to care about NFS again, so Most Wanted is definitely one I'm looking forward too. Also, the open world of Forza this time has me pretty interested. Though, I'm more of an arcade racer guy, so MW comes first.
Also, for those wondering, you'll be able to customize your wheels, suspension, engine, nitrous, body, ect. in Most Wanted.