Forza Horizon 4 (Microsoft Game Studios) Reviewed on Xbox One
What is it: It’s a car racing game, where you, well, race lots of different cars (buggies, trucks, sports cars, muscle cars) around some gorgeous English countryside.
What can you do in it and what I liked: Simply put, you drive cars around roads but look, while I’ve never been a huge ‘fan of racing games, there’s something pretty special about driving a virtual car through a quaint village – taking out road signs, trading paint with other cars and then crashing into stone walls. You can race against AI controlled vehicles or just sightsee along back country roads. I also like that there aren’t loot boxes anywhere to be seen and the addition of seasons really showcases the visuals.
What can’t you do in it and what didn’t I like: Well, you can’t drive your car into lakes and abandon it. Believe me, I tried. Several times but the car just kept warping back to the road side. Disappointing, Microsoft. Jokes aside, the AI for other cars is pretty stupid at times, and the loot boxes might be gone but the wheel spins that are used to dish out rewards just seems a little tacky.
Verdict: Forza Horizon 4 is a dream for motor racing fans and Playground Games have scored another hit with its automotive monster. It could also be the best looking racing game on the planet and if you’re a diehard racing game fan, this could be just the ticket for you and your Xbox One.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Ubisoft) Reviewed on Xbox One
What is it: The latest installment of the AC series where characters relive the memories of ancestors from the past using a device called the Animus. This time we visit Ancient Greece.
What I liked: Like previous AC games there’s a lot of climbing and stealth and killing. Lots and lots of killing. I like, though, that Ubisoft has tried some new stuff here with things like dialogue options during conversations and the combat is deeper than previous titles (although it took me a little time to get the perfect parry). You also get to explore ancient Greece which is pretty cool (I liked the Egyptian setting of the previous AC game, too, but Greece is a nice touch).
What I didn’t like: While I enjoyed the opening Spartan battle scene, involving King Leonidas (it reminded me a lot about the movie 300. There’s even an achievement called 300), my poor launch Xbox One seemed to be creaking under the strain of all the on-screen enemies . There were also a few visible stutters during cut scenes and during game play .
Verdict: Look, it’s an Assassin’s Creed game so if you’ve played one, you’ll know what to expect. This one, though, relies a lot more on RPG mechanics where you have to make smart choices about equipment and skills so there’s more brains to this one than previous titles, which I liked a lot. AC Odyssey is a solid game but, sadly for it, I played Red Dead Redemption 2 before it and Rockstar’s game spoiled my enjoyment of Ubisoft’s latest. Make no mistake, I will go back to ancient Greece once I’ve finished exploring the American frontier.