Download content – it’s a grey area for many as there’s generally no reason it should not have been included with the standard package at launch. But, sometimes there are developers who launch a substantial standard game along with extraordinary download content, and Forza Horizon 3: Hot Wheels falls into that category. It’s time to forget most of what you know about the original game as the Hot Wheels download content is about to bring the child out of you.
It’s getting wheely HAWT!
Hot Wheels begs you to not be a grown up for one day. Be a child with an imagination that stretches as far as the bright orange and blue roads can reach up into the skies. Forget about realism and invite bright colours and goofy concepts. In other words, be a bit of a Nintendo gamer – just for once. Welcome to Thrilltopia – a wonderland of twisted roads where you’ll quite literally drive upside-down and be catapulted over huge gaps to reach otherwise unreachable areas. Thrilltopia is in essence the dream you had as a child that has come to life in a modern game.
The faster you go the better your four wheels will stick to the road, though there’s a small catch.
There is still a familiarity when it comes to the overall setup of the events you’ll take part in. Expect to once again see circuit and sprint races, bucket lists, speed zones, drift zones and danger sign stunts luring you in for a challenge. It’s just that you’ll have to learn to deal with gravity. There are speed boost pads that help you gain the momentum when racing vertically up a track, but it does play havoc with those who aren’t all that used to arcade racing games. The faster you go the better your four wheels will stick to the road, though there’s a small catch. Some corners will aid you with barriers, while the more tricky ones will see you flying off the side if you get a little ‘pedal happy’. It’s also got a different progression system.
Instead of just ploughing head first into any race you’ll start off with the A class and move to the S1 class, and later S2. To do so you have to earn medals, whereof there are three medals per event with challenges attached to each medal. When you do get to S2, the fastest class of the lot, it’s when the fun gauge tops out. The various highways and loops have been designed and networked in such a way that it flows exceptionally well. There are moments you’ll be a hundred meters into the air driving your Ferrari at top speed. It’s an exhilarating experience and at times I had some moments of vertigo and my stomach doing weird things. Seeing as it comes with the Hot Wheels license there are more cars on offer too. These cars include classics like the Bone Shaker, Rip Rod and Twin Mill. Should you track down new barn finds you’ll also unlock a few extra vehicles. It’s really a meaty package when you consider it’s DLC, but I think there’s good room for improvement.
A very slow puncture
When you consider that the game was brought to you by Playground Games (including several developers on the team who worked at Bizzare Creations – Blur and Project Gotham Racing) it makes good sense why they took the wacky route with Hot Wheels. I do however feel they could have gone a little wackier. How about performing stunts in the air and gaining a boost as you land? It’s something that worked well for an older PS2 title named Rumble Racing and I think it would have worked exceptionally well for this particular concept. You’ll also find a robotic T-Rex in a particular area of Thrilltopia that, if you get too close, will munch down and destroy your race – it needed more of this level interaction. Great idea, but do more of that! And, though it’s a lot of fun it can’t touch the base game that originally launched last year. It’s great while it lasts, but you’ll ultimately return to Byron Bay.
Throughout your experience you’ll hear the radio hosts switching their talk to the Hot Wheels event you’re taking part in, which is a nice little touch, but the soundtrack remains the same, which isn’t bad at all. When you consider that this is merely DLC it’s a reminder of what the benchmark of DLC should be. It’ll take you about 5 hours to complete the game and I expect another 5 hours to complete everything 100%, which to me is great value for money.
If you enjoyed Forza Horizon 3 then the Hot Wheels DLC is essential. It can definitely be improved on, but know that the wheels in this game are indeed hot.