Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Horizon Chase Turbo Review (PS4)

Fans lamenting the demise of arcade racing games need lament no longer. Horizon Chase Turbo is a brilliant love letter to oldschool arcade racing titles like Top Gear (the video games, not the TV show) and OutRun that fans will absolutely love. Because it is so authentic to the source material, however, it might seem a little simple and primative compared to modern racers, but for anyone that grew up in the 90’s it'll be a warm fuzzy homecoming to challenging, addictive, and just plain fun racing. For all of the details, continue reading our full Horizon Chase Turbo PS4 review.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Aquiris
  • Developer: Aquiris
  • ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
  • Genre: Racing
  • Pros: Great visuals; addictive gameplay; fantastic soundtrack; fun oldschool racing; splitscreen
  • Cons: Glacial pace to unlock stuff; can be frustrating
  • MSRP: $20

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Horizon Chase Turbo is basically a modern remake of classic SNES racing game Top Gear. It looks the same – though much prettier and modern and HD, of course. It sounds the same – seriously, the music sounds almost exactly like tracks from Top Gear. And it plays the same – you start at the back of a pack of 20 cars and have to pass them all within a few laps to win while managing your nitro use and fuel. When you put it all together, it is an absolutely authentic modern re-creation of an oldschool arcade racer and it is awesome.

The game features more than 100 tracks scattered around the globe in 48 cities and has 31 unlicensed, but easily recognizable, sports cars and other vehicles to choose from. You start the game with just a couple of cars to choose from and only the first leg of the World Tour mode unlocked and then have to race your butt off to unlock everything else. By finishing in the top 3 you earn points that contribute to your total and when you reach various point thresholds you unlock the next set of races or a new car. In addition to the World Tour mode where you race one track at a time, you also unlock a Tournament mode where you race through all of the tracks in an area in a championship-style format. There is also an Endurance mode where you, you guessed it, race for long periods on single tracks. You can play all of the modes in local splitscreen multiplayer with up to 4 players as well and it works great.

One of my few complaints with Horizon Chase Turbo is that the pacing for unlocking stuff is extremely slow. Now, I'm not a lazy Millennial that doesn’t like having to unlock stuff. I grew up with games just like this and actually enjoy having to unlock stuff, but it takes a bit too much grinding to unlock stuff here. You basically have to get at least a 2nd place on every event in order to unlock the next set of tracks, which is actually pretty difficult, so going back and grinding through races for better finishes is kind of a pain. The point totals required to earn new vehicles are spaced even further apart, so unlocking new cars is really, really slow. The game has a ton of content so it doesn’t really need to be artificially extended in this way by having the unlock process be so glacial. I'm having a great time with the game so give me more toys to play with!

The gameplay in Horizon Chase Turbo kind of needs to be explained a bit, too. Racing games of this style aren’t so much about racing the track as they are simply avoiding the 19 other cars getting in your way. The game kind of autopilots you around the corners (you do still need to turn, and the tracks do get tougher and require better driving on your part, but the game gives you a pretty generous helping hand) and you just mostly focus on avoiding the other cars, collecting fuel cans (because you can run out of gas), and using your limited amount of nitrous at the right moments. The game sounds deceptively simple, and the first few races definitely are simple, but as you get deeper into the World Tour the tracks get more interesting and the challenge increases dramatically. The A.I. cars are extremely good at always being in your way at all the most inopportune times, which, along with increasingly tough track designs, contributes greatly to the difficulty.

I think it also has to be said that the gameplay almost seems scripted out. What I mean is that, as long as you run a relatively clean first couple of laps, you are always right on the leader’s tail with an opportunity to win in the last lap. It makes the racing undeniably thrilling, but also makes it feel a little artificial. That’s not a complaint, though. This is how these games have always been and is definitely part of the charm.

It can’t be understated how appealing the presentation is in Horizon Chase Turbo. It really does look and sound like the modern re-birth of Top Gear, and that’s awesome. The tracks are generally pretty simple visually, but when they’re blazing past at 60FPS and you’re tearing through turns and avoiding opponent cars you don’t really notice the backgrounds. There are some nice visual effects here, though, such as very nice weather effects and dynamic lighting where the time of day actually changes. The music also deserves a shout out because it is awesome and sounds very, very, very similar to the tracks from the original Top Gear games (which makes sense since the sound designer for Top Gear made the music for Horizon Chase Turbo).

For oldschool arcade racing fans, playing Horizon Chase Turbo in 2018 on PS4 is pretty much a dream come true and I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of games like Top Gear and OutRun. It looks and sounds great, plays like a dream, and has more than enough content to justify the $20 MSRP. Horizon Chase Turbo is awesome. Buy it.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.