forza horizon 2

Back in October 2012, Forza Horizon popped up on the Xbox 360 with a sole aim; bringing the fun back to the serious world of Forza. Will the recently announced Forza Horizon 2 aim to do the same?

You see Forza is a great series. It’s been the go to racer for Xbox gamers ever since the first one was released way back in 2005 and whilst each incarnation has provided some great racing, it could be said that it’s a bit of a racing geeks breeding ground, with an emphasis on style and substance over that all important fun factor.

And so when Forza Horizon hit the 360, there were many a gamer hoping that it would tickle that spot that it’s big brother doesn’t quite reach. The fun spot!

To be fair, Horizon did just that. It’s open world festival style gameplay was a hit in many quarters and the racing was still as good as any previous Forza title, even if it didn’t go down the usual stoney-faced route of games past.

Forza Horizon had a bit of fun to it and this was no more evident when teaming up with friends in order to complete online challenges. It was no Burnout Paradise (still the king for any racing co-op fun times), but it was very good indeed. I remember many a night when a group of us would spend hours at a time trying to all hit a certain speed in order to pass the test…..all for one black sheep to miss the target meaning we’d all have to line up and start again. There were a few playground style events to keep the masses entertained but these were lacking on quantity.

It may not sound fun, but with a group of mates, it was quality of the highest order.

The single player campaign was really rather good as well. Aside from the racing, the open world feel of Colorado with its tight inner city roads leading into the wide open rocky hills was a delight and many hour would be spent just driving around taking in the gorgeous scenery whilst making your way to the next point-to-point event or circuit race.

However, with that open world, Horizon saw a few negatives. The roads felt empty, and after a while the delights of driving from point to point became a little tiresome, and when you did get to the events, they were over a bit too quickly for my liking. There was very little need to go back and retry a race and so, after what felt like only a few hours, the game was near enough ‘complete’. There were of course numerous speed traps present and these were a good source of pitting yourself up against friends when you didn’t fancy the co-op challenges, but for a real racing challenge, there wasn’t enough content.

The subsequent DLC packs brought some extra fun and games but the Rally Pack was the only real highlight and that went well away from the open world philosophy that Horizon stood for.

Forza Horizon 2 needs to build upon these issues. With the next generation Xbox One, the lack of vehicles on the roads should no longer be an issue (how this will translate on the 360 though is a concern), and we really do need to see a ton more events than the frankly miniscule amount we received first time round.

DLC will no doubt be a big push and whilst I’m not a hater, I’d prefer to see extra events and tracks released as content instead of the usual flurry of cars that Forza has been known for. Will we see that happen?

Additionally, the announcement of a full weather system coming to Horizon 2 sounds very promising. Again, I’m slightly concerned how that will play out on 360 but it’s something that should be awesome on the One. If it’s anything like the crazy good rain and weather effects found in Watch Dogs then combined with the previous day and night cycles found on the original Horizon, I believe Xbox One owners are in for a treat. Just make sure that those cars slip and slide around when the road surface is wet….or icy, something we’d expect to see more off in the new European setting

And with that in mind, let’s see the previously good, but ultimately lackluster, co-op challenges make a big old comeback. We want to see specific challenges for night racing and others dependent on the weather conditions; challenges we can have a go at with either two friends or 16 fellow racers at one time. We also want/need/must-have more playground style multiplayer events with variations on the old cat and mouse, infected and other fun modes we see with something like Grid.

Finally, and if you’re reading this Playground Games, please take note. We want more ‘Barn Finds’. The measly 9 classic cars that were on the hunting list last time out is no where near enough and with such an open world of exploration ahead of us, numerous collectibles and hidden secrets (of which Barn Finds are thrown in) are an absolute must to keep us playing the game for more than a month or so.

Take those nine hidden cars from last time, double it and then quadruple that again. In other words, Forza Horizon 2 needs to give me the racing equivalent of the Crackdown orbs and I’ll be one happy racer!

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