Forza Horizon 2
Every so often, gamers need a holiday. And being gamers, we take gaming holidays. Sim racers often would take a driving holiday along the likes of the Test Drive Unlimited series…but that wasn’t a perfect holiday. Then, one day after a long night out and one too many cocktails, Test Drive Unlimited had a head on collision with the Forza Motorsport series. The emergency crew stitched the pair together, and thus created the spiritual successor to TDU, Forza: Horizon. All the open world fun and games of a Need for Speed, Midnight Club or TDU, combined with the highly successful formula that has turned Forza into a real Gran Turismo killer.
Forza Horizon 2 takes you on the summer of your life. The most exclusive cars from around the world, set against the stunning backdrop of Southern France and Northern Italy. Horizon 2 gives you the opportunity to compete in a series of championships, each focusing on a particular class and customized to the car that you own. Each championship takes place in a particular city or area of the world; once you win the championship, jump on board the road trip and enjoy the scenic cruise to your next destination. Ultimately, once you win enough championships, you have the chance to run in the Forza Horizon Grand Finale; which, considering which part of the world you’re in, basically means that if you win, you don’t just win the cup, you win at life. Period.
Obviously, in between races and championships, there is a wide open world of Southern Europe to explore and uncover. And the sky really is the limit in this case. Open fields to plow through, forests to dodge, traffic to weave in and out of, and dozens of hidden boards to smash-not to mention garage find cars, which give you rare vehicles to restore and use. You can easily spend a few hours just getting lost in the countryside; you can fast track to destinations, but where’s the fun in that really? (It also costs credits to do so!)
There are over 200 cars to choose from, all with the level of customization you’d find in Forza 5. Performance and visual tuning, vinyls, and much more. They dance along the edge of simulation and arcade handling; some of the Hypercars can be a bit of a handful as a result but as long as you aren’t a complete spanner behind the wheel it’s easy to keep them in check. It allows you to really have fun with the cars, and throw them around to create epic tyre smoking drifts. And rather than discourage hoonigans like myself, Horizon 2 actually encourages it. You are rewarded for just about every driving feat you perform, and the points go towards acquiring skill points which can further better your career. Races earn you XP, which gives you a chance to earn a random prize each time you level up, from cash to new cars.
Like Forza 5, the ‘AI’ consists of real players, friends included. You can join or create your own car club to share cars and designs with, attend car shows to show off (or admire others), and they drive around with you in free roam, creating the opportunity for instant races and challenges.
- The feel of the game. There’s just something about it that brings you back, and makes you want to keep driving. Cross country rallycross, street courses, and the joy of venting by destroying everything that isn’t tied down (including lines of cycles and mopeds.)
- The cars look and sound as stunning as they should. It’s always satisfying to see your own creation running about the virtual world.
- The soundtrack. Fits it right from the moment you start. Horizon 2 really brings a lot of good emotion out of you, and the soundtrack really helps that. I’d buy an album if it existed!
Cons (and I use the term lightly):
- There isn’t anything overly terminal to point out here. A lack of police? Although I understand how difficult that might be to integrate.
- Unable to transfer designs and vinyls from Forza 5. Was a little frustrating to have to start all over again with some of them.
Horizon 2 is well worth a purchase. Turn 10 have essentially taken the open world racer idea, cut all the bad stuff out and spliced it together with their own Forza goodness. The AI characters in the game are also much better to deal with; they don’t get on your nerves, they don’t get overly repetitive and if you’re a car person like myself, you’ll end up finding things in common with them. But a lot of the time, it’s almost as if the game knows why you’re here. And it lets you have a free hand, rampaging through the countryside, sliding through mountain passes, or chilling on the waterfront with a bunch of your friends. Every driving fantasy you’ve ever wanted to have…you can pretty much do it.
And it’s obviously made a good impression on me. After all, I took time out from my gaming ‘holiday’ to write it.