Disclaimer – My opinion of Horizon Chase Turbo is based on my experience with the Nintendo Switch version of the game.
The ‘Arcade Racer’ has become somewhat of a rare breed in the modern gaming climate. At one time games like Virtua Racing, Outrun and Top Gear dominated the racing scene, showing the world what it was like to be behind the wheel of powerful cars, going fast and beating the clock like no tomorrow. Unfortunately those days are mostly gone, instead replaced with more contemporary racers that take on slightly more realistic driving sensibilities. Not content with just letting time forget the genre, Brazillian developer, Aquiris, unleashed Horizon Chase Turbo onto the world…and it’s glorious.
Horizon’s core mode is its ‘World Tour’ – a series of progressively more difficult races across multiple countries and continents. When you first start out you can wrap your hands around the wheel of some pretty snazzy motors like the ‘not-Ferari’ – a nice throwback to the aforementioned Outrun. As you blaze your way through America, China and various other locales you will not only unlock new cars, but new upgrades that raise your collections top speed, acceleration and handling. Needless to say, the game starts fast and only gets faster. My only criticism is that there is not a massive difference in stats between each of your cars at first, with some cars essentially being reskins, but things do get a bit spicier once you start piling up the 30+ vehicles on offer.
Races themselves are lightning-fast affairs typically only lasting two-to-three minutes tops. This is thanks to a mixture of extremely short tracks and cars that go like the dickens. Each race comes with a number of universal objectives to truly “100%”, coming first being the most obvious. In addition to this, most races come with a number of collectible coins, typically not on the ideal racing line. Finish the race in first whilst nabbing these beauties and you will land yourself the coveted ‘Super Gold’. The ultimate goal being to get ‘Super Gold’ on every track, of which there are over 100.
In addition to this, you have to balance two resources – fuel and boost. Depending on the car you decide to hop into, fuel may or may not be a constant issue, but in either case, being aware of how much you have in the tank will always be in the back of your mind. For the most part, you will not be able to comfortably complete a race on one tank, so thankfully Horizon’s tracks have a number of fuel pickups scattered around. The more powerful your car, the thirstier the engine, and the further into the Tour you go, the few tanks you will find, so getting into the habit of driving off the ideal racing line to stay topped up will become second nature.
Boosting is your final resource. As the name would suggest, hitting your boost button will inject your car with liquid speed causing you to rocket up the ranks at blistering speeds. The catch? You only have three boosts available per race. Some tracks do come with an additional boost pickup, but managing when to get the most out of your face-melter is key to your success. Blitzing off the track because you mistimed your boost will often lose you the race.
What truly makes Horizon special though has nothing to do with it’s seemingly endless tracks, massive roster of cars, replay value or nostalgia – no, it’s the handling. Horizon controls like a dream at all times. Corners come thick and fast, and you can bet on your life that you will blaze around that bugger at 150mph like it was nothing. A mix of slightly auto-correction, tight controls and tight turning leaves Horizon feeling like an adrenaline-fuelled death race every time you take a corner. The true challenge then isn’t the steering so to speak, but the overtaking. You will be accompanied by a fair few CPU racers who are looking to steal that coveted Super Gold from you.
Bumping bumpers with these buggers is possibly the worst thing you can do in Horizon, as not only does your speedometer get a sharp slap on the bonce, but the dooda you just crunched gets a hefty speedboost. This makes getting past the AI the true challenge, and as with everything else, means you will have to abandon the ideal racing line if you want to get by safely. For those who just have to exchange a bit of paint however, can in specific, shady circumstances. Struggling to pull away from an opponent? Smash into the side of the git and watch as their car spins out and gets krumped into the nearest sign. Nobody said you had to play fair.
Outside the World Tour, you have Championship mode. This is a more traditional string of races – win races, earn points. Quick and simple. The true challenge struts onto the track when you master both of these hefty modes however – Endurance. This guy wants you to beat between 12 and 109 tracks back-to-back. Needless to say, this is the ultimate challenge and comes with the ultimate reward – a new car.
You’d expect with all of this content, there would be nothing else to talk about, but then Horizon once again opens its suspiciously bulging jacket and reveals what it was hiding behind its leathery covering – Playground. Playground is where Horizon truly gets its legs in the way of practically endless content. Every now and then the developers will unleash a series of races, each with a unique set of modifiers spicing up the formula just enough to keep it interesting. Throw in some leaderboard support, and you have yourself a winner. Finally, if all of that was not enough, the game comes with four player local multiplayer. A shame there is no online, but watching your friends kareena into the nearest tree certainly helps make up for that.
All of this would be for naught however if the game ran like a hot mess on a summer’s day. Luckily for Arcade Racing fans everywhere, Horizon not only aims for, but maintains a rock solid 60fps at all times, across all modes, regardless of speed. What’s more, the game looks absolutely stunning to boot. The game is brighter than the sun, with an incredibly stark colour palette that sears the ol’ retinas in the best possible way. Lush, chunky car models with hyper-stylised, clean designs throughout make this a true treat for the eyes.
As a wonderful throwback to its roots, Aquiris even got the masterful Barry Letch (the mastermind behind Top Gear soundtrack) to compose the game’s score. Combining recognisable retro trappings with modern recording equipment gives Horizon a distinct series of tunes that fill each race with adrenaline. These tracks could easily stand toe-to-toe with the best of the old guard, and deserves to be bopped along to whenever you get the chance.
Horizon Chase Turbo is not only a fantastic throwback to the times of yore, but an amazing game in its own right. It takes everything that made the classics great, improves upon them and delivers one of great racing experiences you will find on the Switch. If you have the need for speed, then you absolutely must pick this game up and give it a whirl, it is well worth your time and money.
Toast Seal Of Approval
Check out my review of Horizon Chase Turbo: Rookie Series for more info on the beginner friendly free expansion. I have also reviewed Horizon Chase Turbo: Summer Vibes if you wanted to have a gander at the game’s second DLC.
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