Rally racing is certainly not for the faint of heart. It’s one of the most dangerous forms of motorsports, for good reason – it’s unpredictable. A good navigator might have a meter long list of information about a certain course but a simple shift in climate is enough to change things completely. Such realism does not make its way to Forza Horizon‘s first substantial piece of downloadable content, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to play. Forza Horizon Rally adds offroad tracks and custom rally cars to what was an extremely busy game already, although it takes away some of the features that made the core Forza Horizon experience feel so ‘free’.
The first thing that you’ll notice after selecting ‘Rally out of the main Forza Horizon menu is that events can be selected and started off right away, without the need of driving to and from anywhere in the Colorado set piece. Personally, one of my favorite things to do in ‘Horizon is to drive around without worrying about racing, so it felt a little weird to jump from event to event without getting the chance to explore a new section of the world.
The direct approach taken doesn’t make this content any less enjoyable. Rally racing is a natural extension to Forza Horizon, even more considering where the game takes place. It’s hard to picture Colorado without thinking of long, winding, dusty roads and that’s exactly what Horizon Rally gives you. It starts off with a single section and extends to seven different tracks, each divided into four legs of racing against the clock.
Making progress is relatively easy as new tracks are opened up as soon as a rally is completed, regardless of your performance. Doing well in races is important in order to unlock the final race, though. It’s worth mentioning that there is a noticeable bump in difficulty in this expansion in comparison to the core Forza Horizon content, even on the normal setting. The computer controlled driver times are pretty tough to beat and are certainly a welcome challenge, considering how easy ‘Horizon can be, in terms of driving and racing.
As mentioned before, rally racing is a different beast and Playground Games have done a great job making it approachable and fun, while retaining the depth that makes it so unique. Playground Games’ background in the DiRT series is apparent in Forza Horizon Rally from top to bottom, and even though ‘Rally is a downloadable piece of content and not a full game, it plays incredibly well. Switching from different types of gravel and dirt just feels right as you make your way down a track. Car control has a clear balance of realism and simplicity and fit incredibly well on the Xbox 360’s analog triggers.
There’s unfortunately very little new in terms of cars to drive in this expansion. Aside from being able to convert your entire garage to rally form, there’s only a handful of cars to buy in ‘Rally and even so, only a couple of them are new. Rally favorites like the Lancia Stradale and Mitsubishi Impreza share the road with the not so exciting Ford Scort, which is a little disappointing.
Forza Horizon Rally plays it safe and doesn’t connect its content as well as Forza Horizon did. It would’ve been great to see a new region to explore and discover secrets, as part of Forza Horizon and seamlessly integrate it into the main game. On the other hand, as a rally game, it’s an excellent addition to Forza and serves as a tease of what a Turn 10 and Playground Games developed full-fledged rally game would be like. If you are looking for a something a little different from the racing found in Forza Horizon and don’t particularly mind not having much to explore in between races, ‘Rally is sure to have you glued to the driver’s seat for a quite while longer.