I think we can all agree, the gaming market could do with an exciting and realistic horse racing game, I’d almost go as far as saying any new gaming representations of the sport will do. Actually, no, let me take that back, I didn’t mean it – you’ll realise why shortly. Horse Racing 2016 is the game vying to fill the gap with a supposed ‘fabulous and entertaining’ realistic experience. The only gap it should be filling though is that of a black hole.
I don’t usually condemn a game within the opening few sentences, but Horse Racing 2016 is truly a special case as it has no place whatsoever on the Xbox Games Store. By the end of this review, you’ll agree no doubt.
Horse Racing 2016 isn’t a completely realistic take on the horse racing genre, it’s a button-mashing affair, and a poor one at that. After choosing a name for your jockey and horse, and picking a horse type from one of six that are unlockable through general progression, you’ll then be thrown into a massive Championship which spans ten seasons and a finale. That’s all the game has to offer on the solo side, however, with 55 events that could’ve been more than enough.
Sadly, each race begins with a ridiculously fast skill meter where you have to press A to land in the green to get a fast start. Then you’ll hammer said button to sprint off into the distance, draining the horse’s stamina, before dramatically slowing down and allowing the opponents to overtake. Managing the stamina is the key, right? Wrong. Because the only way to get it to regenerate is to stop still, a clear and critical flaw in the system which prevents the chance of winning the normal races unequivocally – even dropping off the pace slightly will allow opposing jockeys to overtake.
Each of the main seasons consist of a mixture of Time Trials, Straights, Hurdles and Normal races; however the style of play never really changes. In a Time Trial, you mash A and whip for a boost until the horse runs out of stamina and feels like it’s running in quick-sand, or keels over and dies. The same method comes into practice for Normal races and Straights, but the latter only lasts half a lap and so, the horse can manage that with ease. Hurdles only differs in the way that you have to perform a clunky jump over a fence which appears as a very stiff and speed reducing manoeuvre, even if you deem it to be perfectly timed.
The Free Ride race type only makes an appearance during the season finale’s set of races and completely baffles me as it has no relevance to the rest of the game; it reminds me of equestrian. Lots of obstacles are present to jump over in an arena setting, and the aim is to jump over as many as you can within the time limit. It’s not enjoyable when the steering is so tetchy and the horse turns as a whole stiff object. And that’s without mentioning the awful jumping mechanic.
The entire experience of Horse Racing 2016 lacks finesse and enjoyment, with the only blessing being in the fact that the majority of races only last a minute or less, and the entire game is over within 90 minutes. Factor in the way that win, or lose, it doesn’t actually even matter, it makes the whole thing rather pointless. Even with the fittest horse in the game, unlocked after many seasons completed, the general race length is too much for it to bear – for me too. You could invite someone you really despise round for a local split-screen race on any of the events, but not even I could do that to my nemesis.
So, we’ve established it’s a boring game to play; actually, it’s a joke of a game, and that’s me avoiding curse words. Unfortunately for this steaming pile of horse poop, the visuals are akin to that of a late 90s video game. The different tracks all, more or less, play exactly the same way, with the background setting being the only aesthetic change, where buildings disappear and re-appear as you turn ever so slightly. The developers, Yash Future Tech Solutions, just turn everything white for a snowy style track, with no attempt at any textures or effort.
Horse Racing 2016 is an all-round pathetic attempt at milking horse racing fanatics with false promises of a realistic game. It feels awful, it looks awful, and I’ve absolutely no idea how it managed to get onto the store. Worst of all, the price of £23.99 is utterly disgraceful for what is being provided – it’s criminal.
Please don’t go near Horse Racing 2016, there are countless other games that deserve your hard-earned cash and time. Pound for pound it’s the worst game I’ve ever played, and I play all sorts of rubbish.