Not content with being the premier track based racer on Xbox, the Forza series is going for the jugular of near on every race game that has ever existed. But will Forza Horizon 2 become a jack of all and master of none or will it leave the rest of the competition trailing in its dust?
The answer is quite simple.
Forza is evolving. Evolving into a beast that no-one can stop.
For Forza Horizon 2 is simply stunning. It is superb, it is magnificent and it is the most remarkable racing title I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.
It must be said, I’m a bit of a Forza fan. Although disappointed with the quantity of events found in the original Horizon, I’ve piled many hours into all previous Forza titles with the fourth game in the series standing proud as my favourite Xbox game of all time. In fact, Forza 4 is quite possibly my most favourite game of all time. Bar none.
Sorry, that should possibly read was….and bar FH2!
For whilst Horizon 2 is quite a different game to the more sterile affair that was Forza 4, the sheer fun, excitement and quantity of contests in Turn 10 and Playground Games’ latest title means it should be something you’ll be playing for months on end.
From the very first minute of embarking on the initial road trip, you get the feeling something special is being laid out in front of you. With the most stunning of visuals, both in terms of the 200+ cars on offer and of the landscapes you’ll find yourself racing round, Forza Horizon 2 makes the most of the power of Xbox One, taking a noticeable step up from the previous festival based racer and easily on a par with the stunning looking, but slightly bereft of content, Forza 5.
But where Horizon 2 really destroys all over racing games is with the amount of things on offer. The original Horizon game was good, but after only a matter of weeks, all races and explorative tasks on offer were exhausted, but thankfully this doesn’t look to be anywhere near the case with the sequel. There are only ten barn finds available in which to hunt down some old unloved vehicles (and this is slightly disappointing) but in all other areas you’ll find plenty to do over the long term. So whether you just fancy driving around hitting all the speed cameras and speed zones you can find, taking on head-to-head races with your friends Drivatars, searching out and hitting each and every road or experience board in the game or just throwing an off road vehicle through some fields of corn, then you’ll be more than happy.
If none of that takes your fancy (what kind of crazy person are you?), then the Forza Horizon Festival is the place to be. Building on the great groundwork found in the previous title, the Festival has grown to such a level that it is THE focal point of everything that happens in Southern Europe. Taking in races set across both France and Italy, the festival will see you visiting six fantastic locations complete with some of the best roads and routes you’ll find in a game, and filled with some of the best racers from around the world. With circuit races, point to point checkpoint races and routes that take you both on tarmac and through some of the huge off road trails that are found in Horizon 2, each and every race is different and stops any form of repetition or boredom creeping in.
Each town houses a variety of events and races for you to take part in, but once you’ve completed the races in hand, you’ll then be prompted to drive off into the sunset in the search for more championships, more fun, more credits and more XP. The choice of championships are completely up to you and so whether you feel the need to trundle round in a D class VW Camper, or indeed take in the routes at a more considerable speed in a S class McLaren or Lamborghini, then you can. All handle with a fair degree of reality about them but it wouldn’t be a Horizon game if the simulation side of things hadn’t been toned down and the arcade meter moved up a notch and thankfully that’s exactly what has happened here. Full on car fanatics will no doubt complain that it isn’t quite realistic enough, preferring to stick to Forza 5, but Horizon promises to take you on a trip like never before and the Festival doesn’t allow for the sterile…..as the races against planes, trains and other mobiles indicates.
Of course the vast majority of games nowadays, especially those powered by Xbox One, have vast multiplayer experiences and Horizon 2 is no different. Whilst the single player affair will keep you busy for near on 100 hours of gametime (that’s what happens when you get over 160 different race championships included), everything you can do in the standard loners game has been replicated – and indeed built upon – when in a party with friends or when cruising the open road with random others from around the world.
And it is here when Forza Horizon 2 really comes to life.
For racing with friends (and enemies) is ultimately better than cruising the streets by yourself and the online side of Horizon 2 is near on flawless. Yes, there are the odd moments of server madness in which a party member will be kicked or you’ll struggle to join a game but for the most part everything just works! Races and road trips work exactly the same as those found by yourself but sporadically included are a few party games that bring even more joy to the scene. Infection and King games are crazy good, especially with a full room of players, and bring something different to the normal races. Car Clubs are a huge part of the game and with the option to fill a club with 1000 players, the chance to make new friends, or have better opponents to race against is a mammoth draw. The fact you can obtain extra XP and credits depending on how well you and your club do is just another example of how well the multiplayer side of things has been thought out.
There is also the option to run through a shed load more of the bucket challenges with a co-op partner and whilst it would have been nice to have seen some challenges that involve more than just two players, what is on offer will yet again keep you busy for a good few hours. Include some car meets in which you’ll get to check out rivals vehicles, buy their car designs or take a look at their tuning setups and you can see why the multiplayer side of Forza Horizon 2 is thriving…..and will continue to do so!
So far everything I’ve mentioned is positive and it’s pretty damn difficult to find anything wrong with Horizon 2. Being super picky, I’d personally have loved to see more barn finds and additional bucket challenges (both on and offline) but other than that, it’s near on perfection, with the inclusion of the now standard Rivals events and Perks system giving each and every race or jolly down the freeway a purpose.
And of course, if you do some how get bored you could always sit for hours taking photos of your surroundings with the super photo mode or spend even more designing vinyls for you and your friends vehicles.
Visit the Horizon festival today…..but beware, you may never leave as the new master will keep you drawn in forever more!