Everyone knows what the Forza series brings to the table; fast cars, great driving mechanics, and tons of customization options, but the second game in Forza’s spinoff series, Forza Horizon 2, offers something very different but very familiar. Full Disclosure: I purchased this game with my own money, for my own Xbox. Okay, half of it was my brother, but still! Wasn’t free. Enjoy.
For those that don’t know, the Horizon games are all about the freedom of driving. No longer are you held down within the confines of a single race track at a time, you get an entire map to drive around and mess with. Horizon 2 takes what the first game did and amps it up even more, giving the player 2 countries and 6 cities to explore. There is a lot to do in Horizon 2.Obviously the main thing about any driving game is the cars. Forza Horizon 2 almost doubles the amount of cars from the first game, with everything from standard BMWs, to the new Lamborghini Hurracan, to some crazy barn finds with cars never before seen in a Forza game (or any racing game, in my memory). Every car feels different, with its own strengths and weaknesses, but one thing is definitely certain; they all look great.
The graphics are definitely true to form, using the Forza Motorsport 5 engine to power it. Though, while the cars looks stunning, taking a look at some things in the environment can be a little off putting. Trees still look a little pixel-y as you drive past, but off in the distance, the landscapes look great. You definitely feel like you could be racing through the streets of France and Italy.One of the things that the Horizon series has done right so far is the attention to how different terrain effects your driving. Tarmac is always optimal, but certain cars take on gravel, grass, and sand differently. Not all cars can compete on the same terrain, and Playground Games knows this. Making the player learn these different terrains adds a lot of depth to the game, and the player will learn along the way.
And then there’s rain. Rain is a new addition to Forza. Everything reacts different to rain. The tarmac that was once the safest bet now makes you tail happy. The grass slows you down a bit more, and makes obstacles like hay bales heavier. It gives your car more grip in the gravel, completely changing up what you’ve spent the last four races memorizing in your new car. It’s a great addition, and I hope in the future more weather types can come into future games.
But not all is good on the road. One of the weakest parts may be how the returning “drivatars” play in the open world. These are supposed to be representations of other Forza players, yet none react how you would expect while just driving around. One of the main gripes I had was that they never seemed to get out of the way, even if you were driving towards them from a long distance. They seemed stupid and unreactive to what was happening around them, until they got into a race. In the race, the pseudo-AI is fine, playing like they did in Forza Motorsport 5, which makes the racing competitive.One thing that cannot be ignored in a Horizon game is the soundtrack. And Forza Horizon 2 has a great one. Drum and Bass, Electro, and Indie Rock are all present from the previous game, but now there is Euro-pop, funk, 90s pop, and even classical. Yes, you can hear Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth being punctuated by the sound of crashing cars and V8 engines. Never did I think you could find a game where punk, electronica, and Vivaldi could work so well in the same environment. But, one thing I was saddened about was the lack of hip-hop. There is a bit of hip-hop in one station, but a dedicated station would definitely open up some more alternatives, since the Xbox One doesn’t have music streaming while gaming yet. The sound of the cars is also amazing, and every car sounds different. Even upgrading the car changes the way it sounds, from the engine to the muffler.
One of the major improvements over the last Forza Horizon is the amount of content. The entire world map is set across 6 cities, three in France, and three in Italy. Nowhere most people would recognize, but each city has a nice little feel about it, and their surrounding areas change in small ways. Also, the amount of events in the game is astonishing. There are about 168 championships, 28 per city, and each championship has four races. That’s an insane 672 races in the game! Also, there are the “throwdowns” special races where you go against planes, trains, and hot air balloons, and the “Bucket List” challenges, where you get to drive a specific car for a specific goal, whether it be reaching the top speed or scoring style points. There is a lot to do in this game, and it is a vast improvement over the previous Horizon title.
All in all, Forza Horizon 2 is a great addition to the franchise. Series physics, controls, and graphics are all present, with the addition of rain, classical music, and tons of content available. The Drivatars may need some work while in the open-world, and some of the environments look strange up close, but as long as you keep your eyes on the road, and your car, this game is everything a racing fan could ask for, and definitely sets the bar high for the racing games following it.
P.S. Pictures taken with a Nexus 5. Off a TV. No capture card here, folks! Sorry.
If you like racing or driving and have an Xbox One or Xbox 360, this is a must buy.