Release of the Week: Forza Horizon (360)

The Forza Motorsport series is popular among racing simulation enthusiasts. In the past the Forza series was seen as the answer to Sony’s Gran Turismo, but to date there have been four Forza games and Gran Turismo has only added one new game in the same period. The main competitor to the Forza Motorsport series is, in fact, EA’s Need for Speed. Not only does Need for Speed release hardcore simulation games in the Shift spin-off franchise, it also has more casual and arcade offerings. This year Microsoft hopes to compete in those other markets as well with Forza Horizon.

Forza Horizon is a spinoff game that hopes to become a spinoff series. It takes the physics engine of Forza 4 and throws it into an open world. Gamers can drive over 65 terrain variants as they weave through traffic, jump over obstacles and earn “street cred” for their aggressive driving. Accumulated “street cred” will increase your popularity, unlocking additional events. With a feature like “street cred” you can expect the story to involve a lot of hyped up 20-somethings who somehow got their hands on way too much money.

Throughout Forza Horizon you will try to move past 249 other drivers on your way to the top of the Horizon festival rankings. While roaming around the festival area you will be able to enter in festival events, challenge other drivers to a race or take some pictures of your car in the beautiful Colorado landscape. Or you can just cruise around while listening to the game’s dubstep-heavy soundtrack. The game’s multiplayer includes its own cooperative free roam as well as interesting competitive events. There’s also a leveling system which gifts you with a slot machine-style reward every time you level.

It may be a departure that some fans may not appreciate, but Forza Horizon looks to be a fun game for a slightly different audience. Hopefully the right audience is paying attention or this spinoff series will crash and burn. If you think this game is in your wheelhouse, head over to the official website and check it out.

The Unfinished Swan (PS3)

When was the last time you played a first-person painting game? The Unfinished Swan follows the story of Monroe, a boy who is chasing after a swan that has escaped from a painting. The world begins completely white and the player must throw paint to reveal geometry in order to navigate the environments. As you follow the swan’s footprints you will unveil new pages of the game’s story. The game is short, but worth checking out for those who enjoy artistic indie games.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter (360, PS3, PC)

The Medal of Honor series is a long and storied one. It includes some of the greatest first person shooters of all time. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case lately. In 2010 the series was rebooted and set in modern day Afghanistan, receiving moderately favorable reviews and sales. This year’s Warfighter hopes to build upon that reboot despite the monolith that is Call of Duty and the ridiculousness that is having Warfighter as a name. What will the next game be called? Bulletshooter? Guykiller? Headblaster?

Skylanders Giants (360, PS3, Wii, 3DS)

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure was a surprise hit when it launched last year. Not only did the game itself do well, but over 30 million of the game’s 32 toy figures have been sold. It isn’t surprising that Activision would want to annualized the successful franchise as soon as possible. Skylanders Giants will add 40 new characters and figures which will each stand about twice as tall as last year’s figures. Forget Pokemon, Skylanders will be the must-have kids game of the holidays.

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