Reviewed on Xbox One
A throwback to racing titles of the 1980’s and 1990’s particularly Top Gear, Aquiris Game Studio’s Horizon Chase Turbo is an energetic and enjoyable arcade racer with a large variation of cars, track design and enjoyable game modes.
Fundamentally, it slots perfectly within the genre of arcade racers. You always start at the back of the 20-car race and must maneuver your way through the crowd, desperately trying to reach the front and claim the gold trophy. It may be simplistic to some, but the exhilarating and fast-paced nature drew me in from the start.
The game revolves heavily around the World Tour mode, an exploration of 12 different countries with an overwhelming 109 different tracks. Your aim is to get a gold trophy, but coins are also available to collect throughout the race although they only add to your end-of-race score. As you increase your race score, new countries, ‘harder’ tracks, special races, and better cars are unlocked. Special races are deadlier than the standard affair, but beating them will allow you to increase your car’s stats—an essential tactic for beating the game. These races were often over very quickly, creating a ‘one more race’ feeling that would keep me playing for another hour or two. It’s a highly addictive racer, one you’ll always find yourself returning to.
World Tour mode does have a substantial difficulty curve even with beating every special race. After placing first in the first few chapters and even gaining the Super Trophy on my first attempt, but as I advanced further throughout the mode I’d notice that I couldn’t continue my cling to victory. I noticed something early on: overaggressive AI. My enjoyment quickly grew into annoyance when I would find myself being slammed off the track by overpowered vehicles, or when the AI would continuously place themselves in front of your car, forcing you shunt them which slows you down further. This is even more aggravating with the narrow track design. In addition to the aggressive AI, as I advanced further, I started to notice the game seemed to give the AI an unfair speed boost to keep you behind – which is more noticeable the further you progress. It’s an issue with a lot of racers, but rubberbanding as strong as this is hardly satisfying.
Alongside the World Tour mode, there are Tournament, Endurance and Playground options – which are unlocked through the World Tour campaign. Tournament is set of four fixed races where points are awarded for finishing places on the grid, racer with the most points at the end wins but you can’t restart races. Endurance is the same, but with a lot more races with one endurance tournament lasting all 109 courses – Endurance mode was easily my personal favorite. Whereas, the Playground mode is a collection of limited-time races that have a unique twist to them. Time attacks with random weather changes, or regular races with unlimited nitro boosts. The variety of different modes is fresh and plenty of options for all players instead of the standard World Tour mode.
Beyond the game modes, the design of the game is what also kept me playing. My appreciation for Horizon grew thanks to the variation in track design. The simplistic, yet eye-catching colored environments, the detail in the weather effects which change substantially in each country, and the memorable soundtrack that compliments the racing style to perfection.
Horizon Chase Turbo is a successful and worthy nostalgic throwback to old-school arcade racers. If you are looking for an arcade racer then this may be the game for you. The racing action is exhilarating with a huge variety of entertaining game modes, fantastic track design, and a memorable soundtrack. However, overaggressive and irritating AI design at times makes the game more frustrating than enjoyable.