Forza Horizon 3 Review

Time well spent

Ford Mustang speeds through the outback in Forza Horizon 3

Driving in games is something that I’ve always enjoyed. I remember being absolutely blown away by the graphics in the original Gran Turismo on PS1. Fast forward a couple of decades and you have this gem of a game by Playground Games and Turn 10. The action never stops, and neither does the party.

If you’ve played previous Forza games, you have a good idea of what to expect. Hundreds of cars by dozens of manufacturers are available, with countless customization options so you can fine-tune and tweak every aspect of your car. Your inner gear head will rejoice. And the physics of the cars! I could probably write an entire article about how spot-on the vehicles handle. The highest praise I can give the dev team is that the cars just feel right. One can tell just by driving if the car has the engine in front or back and which tires are spinning.

The camera angles can be changed on the fly using RB. Perhaps because I’ve been driving for over 20 years the cockpit and front hood camera angles feel best to me. Depending on the course and my position in the field, I’d find myself switching from the far back and cockpit views multiple times during a race. When there’s dirt being kicked up (like in the photo above), the far back view is your best friend to ensure you’re staying on course. Other angles include the front bumper and near-back views, both of which I didn’t use at all.

Damage does occur during races, and the player can choose whether it’s strictly cosmetic or if the car is affected. Since I personally view the Horizon series as more “Arcade-y” as compared to its sister series Forza Motorsport, I chose to have the damage remain cosmetic. Players also have the option to keep on an ideal driving line. Purists may be against such an idea, but I’d recommend to keep this line on at all times. There were moments during races that I couldn’t tell where I was supposed to go next due to a variety of reasons. The line kept me on course almost the entire time. And the times it didn’t keep me on course were my fault, due to a bad line I took in/out of a corner.

I didn’t experience a single bug throughout my entire playthrough either. Not once did I run into an invisible object, glitch out of the world, or prevented to go where I wanted. As far as the visuals are concerned, they’re top-notch, even though the game is five years old. The way the environments transition from one to another is seamless. Driving around the map you’ll encounter the desert of the Australian outback with its famous pink lakes, a tropical forest, vibrant rivers, and towering cityscapes. If you were able to purchase the DLC prior to its removal from the Xbox store, you would’ve also seen an unending blizzard on the side of a mountain, and surreal Hot Wheels® tracks.

The activities found throughout the game are very enjoyable. In addition to 63 exhibition races, players can participate in racing championships (these are 3-5 races long, winner is decided by points), by going as fast as possible in speed zones, showing off their car skills in drift zones, trying to get the top speed in speed traps, and a combination of these activities in the “Bucket List” challenge playlist. On top of that, players can challenge any other players’ avatar at any time to start an impromptu street race. Do enough of these, and organized street races are activated. You can even earn additional cars by participating in these races.

The Forza Horizon series is best at doing one thing above all else: giving the player the opportunity to drive. This may appear to be a miniscule thing, but it’s what makes this series great. None of the above activities are things you HAVE to do. You can just hop into the car of your choice, hit the gas, and go where the road takes you. After a long day, isn’t it nice to just go on a long drive to clear your mind? Forza Horizon 3 is the embodiment of this sentiment, along with so much more.

RATING: 9 out of 10

Twitch Finalizes Agreement With The National Music Publishers’ Association

Its official! Twitch has entered into an agreement with the National Music Publisher’s Association according to an email sent to content creators (including me!) Twitch states that this agreement will “build productive partnerships between Twitch and music publishers.” the company portends that a new process will be implemented that will be more flexible than the current DMCA.

The biggest change that can be gleaned from the email is that content creators will now be issued a warning. “Offending” works, such as clips and VODs can still be taken down immediately from the site. If a creator is a repeat offender, additional warnings and/or penalties will be rendered. “Wait, how is this any different at all” you may be thinking…and there really isn’t a good answer. From what can be inferred in the email, this “warning” is Twitch telling you why they pulled the clip, and what should be done going forward. But shouldn’t communicating with your creators be the very least the platform could do? “Thanks Twitch, for having basic communication skills and telling me what I did wrong.” Seems to be a pretty low bar. And what about games like Forza Horizon that have licensed music in it? Twitch states that there’ll be more information forthcoming at a future date. Guess we should continue to play with music off, or use StreamBeats instead.

Episode 3


In this episode of MegaSound Waves, I give you my review of Borderlands 2 (my backlog is CRAZY long, sorry), I compare Game Pass Ultimate with PlayStation Now/Plus, AND provide you EnLightened Ones with a life update. Thank you so, so much for your support! As always, feedback is welcomed and appreciated. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/megasoundwaves/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/megasoundwaves/support


A Great Weekend…

Is something that I haven’t had in quite some time. My weekends usually consisted of catching up on schoolwork that would be due by Sunday, or taking care of things around the house that I normally wouldn’t have time to (still gotta take care of that closet, by the way). But this past weekend gave me something I had really missed: time with my family.

Picture of my daughter Pizza
Pizza at White Sands National Monument

LOOK AT THAT FACE! She’s so happy! For those of you that don’t know, the photo above is my daughter Pizza (not her real name, of course). It wasn’t the first time she had a chance to go to White Sands, but it WAS the first time she went with me there. Every other time she’s gone, she has been with my wife, her brother and sister, along with my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and their kids. I’ve been in school for as long as my daughter has been ALIVE. Let that sink in for a moment…Needless to say, there have been innumerable times where I’ve had to deny myself the opportunity to go on these trips. But not this time! We made sure to make the most of it.

My son and I
My Sonny Son

This was my son’s second trip there. I COULD NOT get him to stay still. Any second that he wasn’t climbing or sliding down a dune was a second wasted in his eyes. In fact, this picture was taken the first time he asked me to carry him, after spending 4 and a half hours running around. Ah, to be young again with boundless energy! His little legs finally tired, I had to carry him back to our parking location, up and over at least 1,000 dunes (at least that’s how it felt)! If you’ve never climbed a sand dune with a 40 pound, wriggling child on your neck, I highly recommend it. I swear my traps are an inch taller and my neck is half an inch thicker. GAINS!

White Sands vista
Social distancing to the extreme

I was going to place a picture of my wife and I above, but she wouldn’t approve any of the photos I took. So you get a nice vista instead! It was honestly breathtakingly beautiful. If you haven’t had the chance to visit White Sands National Monument just outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico, I very strongly recommend it. If you get there early enough, some of the parking areas have barbeque grills, with tables and metal canopies. You can also go to the visitor center, where you can learn how integral WSNM was to the American effort in the space race against the former Soviet Union.

Make the time

What I’m trying to get at is this: Make time for the people you love. We’re all busy, with work, school, or passions like writing blogs or recording podcasts. But, (and this is especially true if you have kids) we need to make the time to make memories with them. Because those that we love are not with us indefinitely. We’re all here for a finite amount of time. I lost years with my kids. I’m trying to make up for it now, but you don’t have to do that. It’s not about buying them the nicest things that money can buy, but about giving them that which is invaluable: ourselves.

It’s Crazy

How quickly life comes at you. How things can change at a moment’s notice, for good or ill. A few days ago, I launched my first podcast: MegaSound Waves. It was something I always wanted to do, but because of fear or lack of time, I never followed through. But something changed. It wasn’t monumental or a bolt of lightning, it was just a realization that I was living my life in a way where I was relinquishing control; I was being passive. I was waiting for something to change. And it was partially because of school.

I was an adult student. What I mean by that is this: Your prototypical college student is between the ages of 18-23. I started school when I was 25. But not an “ordinary” 25-year-old. By that age, I was married with one daughter and another on the way. My wife, who had just spent the 10 years prior getting her degree, decided to forego her career to be a stay-at-home mom to our kids. WOW. It was a decision that I couldn’t understand at the time, and truthfully, am only now beginning to understand how tremendous a decision it was. She made the right decision. I supported it. But that meant that our family’s financial well-being fell squarely on my shoulders.

So at the age of 25, I was a full-time student, working full-time as a retail manager to support my family, and still learning how to be a dad (something I’m STILL doing. It never ends). Oh, and I was still finding time to game. Long nights became the norm. Eventually, I ran out of funding for school because I didn’t put forth my best effort. I was failing classes and using up all of my money retaking them. I was also a dual-major student so I was going to end up taking MORE classes to graduate. Eventually, the burden became too much, and I burned out. I took a year off from school. And what that year taught me was this: I was unhappy.

Don’t misunderstand me! I am MADLY in love with my wife (I think she’s the hottest, most beautiful woman that I have ever had the chance to lay eyes on, and super supportive to boot), and don’t regret a single second of being a dad. But we had fallen into a cycle. We would fall into debt during the year and use our income tax money to dig ourselves out a bit, only to dig in even more later. It seemed like no matter how hard I worked, or no matter how much I sold, it was never enough. Around the time my wife became pregnant with our son, I had decided it was time for a change.

With the birth of my son, I had a newfound focus to finish school. It was the only way to break the cycle. So I dedicated myself to my studies, participating in mostly online classes. If you, dear reader, have never taken a college course online, consider yourself lucky. I’ve always learned best by being in a classroom, reading a textbook and then hearing a lecture about it. Every in-person class I took, I passed with at least a B. But trying to study, after working a 12-hour shift, with kids and a wife that needed attention was damn near impossible at times. On my days off from work, I tried to get as much schooling done as I could. But my kids saw it as a chance to spend time with Dad. My wife, bless her soul, did her absolute best to give me as much time to study as she could. She would take the kids to her sister’s house for hours at a time, just to afford me the opportunity to study in solace. I tried to maximize this time as much as possible, but the damn draw of the 6 inch screen of my phone was too much at times. I started failing again. And then something unexpected happened: The Covid-19 Pandemic.

Crazy, right? I was put on furlough from my management job in March 2020. I never worked another day for that company again. Thanks for the nine years of memories Men’s Wearhouse! Since I was not technically let go from that job until the following August, I started to claim unemployment checks since we still had bills to pay. “It’ll only be for a few weeks”, I naively thought at the time. How wrong I was. I didn’t end up landing a job until a month ago. A month ago. I went nearly a year without a steady paycheck. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Remember I said I was running out of funds for school? They eventually did run out. And the only way I could finish school was asking my Dad to help me get a loan. Me. 34 years old. Asking Daddy for money. I tried to get the loan on my own, but remember: my wife and I had racked up considerable debt by this point, so my credit was non-existent. Somewhere in the 500’s. So my dad agreed and helped me get the loan I needed to finish school (thanks Dad!). I finally completed my Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Information Systems with a specialization in Software Engineering! Now I’m just waiting for it to come in the mail!

But wait, there’s more! Since I knew I would be graduating soon, I started applying for Software Engineering jobs everywhere. Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Garmin, Electronic Arts, PlayStation, Nintendo, Activision-Blizzard. And every single one said no. I wasn’t applying for high level positions mind you, I was applying for associate, junior, or even intern-level positions. The answer was the same from all of them. But you might be asking yourself something as you read this that, honestly, I didn’t consider until recently: “Does you wife want to move where these jobs are?”

I messed up. I made a grievous miscalculation. I assumed the person who had supported me all throughout my undergrad years would just follow what I wanted. How wrong I was, and how right she was is. Let me provide some context: we are incredibly close to my mother-in-law, and my wife’s siblings. She talks to them multiple times a day, everyday. Before the pandemic, they would help us watch the kids when we had to leave them, like for doctor’s appointments. My suegra (mother-in-law for my non-Spanish readers) and sister-in-law even made me lunch at times if my wife couldn’t. That’s how close we are. Not to mention I have some awesome nieces and nephews that live within a few minutes drive of our house, and my own wonderful mother who still lives in my hometown of Clint, Texas, a mere 45-minute drive from where we live. So if we were to leave, THAT’S what’s staying behind. THAT’S what we’re losing. But how was I supposed to give up my dream of being a game developer? It’s all I’ve wanted to be since I was five. I just spent the last 9 YEARS getting a degree, just to have a chance for these companies to look at my resume. How do I just let that go? Simply put: I had to.

See, before I’m an employee, before I was a student, before I’m a husband, I’m a dad. I have 3 kids looking to me for support, for guidance, and for an example that they can follow. How can I lead them from hundreds of miles away? And how could I possibly leave the struggle of raising children solely to my wife? “Thanks babe, for all of the support over these past 9 years, but now I’m getting a job in Canada with UbiSoft. Since you don’t want to move, you stay here and raise the kids on your own for the next few years.” ………..Sounds stupid right? I couldn’t do that. Not to my wife, and certainly not to my kids.

Growing up, I only saw my Dad on weekends (my parents divorced when I was four). I promised myself that when I had kids, I wouldn’t be a “weekend dad” to them. And if I had moved on my own, I wouldn’t have been. I would’ve been a “quarterly dad” or a “semi-annual dad.” The mere thought made me sick to my stomach. So, as I prayed and contemplated more, the decision to not pursue out-of-town jobs became easier.

I write all this because I thought school was my way out. And it will be, to an extent. I now have a degree that makes me very marketable, so even outside of the tech hubs, I can still make a decent living. But since I was so laser-focused on school, I was left oblivious to other opportunities. Not academic or financial opportunities, but to life opportunities. Now that I’m done with my undergrad, I have the time to do the things that I’ve always wanted to try, like my podcast, or this blog. I’m meeting up with a buddy next week to talk about real-estate prospects. And, get this: I’m teaching myself how to use the Unity and Unreal game engines. See, not being able to leave stopped many opportunities, but created so many more. I can make a game on my own, on my terms. If it’s successful, I’ll make my OWN studio, and provide those game dev chances that I missed out on to others who might find themselves in similar situations, in my hometown. Imagine how badass that’ll be, that I’ll be the one to bring a game studio to El Paso, Texas. It’s crazy how a simple “no” can transform passivity into action, how it can violently destroy a dream only to give birth to several more. I have my wife, my kids, and my determination on my side. To quote one of my favorite Frank Sinatra songs, “[The] Best is yet to come and babe, won’t that be fine?
You think you’ve seen the sun, but you ain’t seen it shine.” The best is yet to come for myself and my family, and what’s crazy is that it’s not a degree or a company that’ll make it happen, it’ll be me and the things I do that allows it to come to fruition.

Episode 1!!


It’ll only get better from here. In this episode, I talk about Microsoft’s purchase of Zenimax, my career goals, and sports+. Hope you enjoy!

It Starts…


A little introductory episode about me, who I am, what I like, and what you can expect when you listen to me (hint: a little of everything).

This episode is sponsored by

· Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app