Real Talk By: Knowledge
Before I get into the details of Forza Horizon 2, I want every game developer to take notes from the people at Turn10, and everyone else involved in the making of these games. Every Forza game (barring the first one) has rewarded you for being a return customer. You either get in-game credits, cars or something of that nature. Now, with the release of Forza HUB you have the opportunity to track your progress throughout the history of all the games, and guess what, they reward you yet again for being so loyal! I can only think of a few franchises that have shown that kind of appreciation to their fans and customers. As often as these companies shell out these uninspired and often rushed video games, they should give you something other than their feeble attempts at getting you to pre-order their games and receive meager benefits. But I digress, onto Horizon 2.
To date, I would argue that this franchise has been the most consistent with the quality of their products. Horizon 2 is not exception to that list. As most of the racing game world has been linear, Horizon has given two titles that have really perfected the idea of open world racing that a few games have tried to introduce. Games like Test Drive Unlimited, Need for Speed, Burnout Paradise, and Midnight Club. You can find some of the best qualities from these games inside Forza Horizon 1 & 2.
There is a feature that is new to me, and if it is not new to some of you I apologize but it blew my mind. FH 2 uses data from people on your friends list as well as people you don’t know and makes ghosts that you race against in every race on the game and in the open world. The game looks at how the drivers drive and tries to emulate their driving style as much as possible in their ghost cars. I keep wanting to message the people I race against and give them a hard time because I just blew them away but then I realize that most of them aren’t even online. This, to me, is one of the best parts of the game.
Graphically, this game has really used every ounce of capability that the Xbox One is pumping out. In the open world not only does the scenery astound, but the cars look fantastic and when coupled together it’s a truly beautiful game. Even the ghosts of yours, or rival cars look fantastic. I do have one gripe with all that being said. In the garage when you are customizing your cars, there is something strange about the lighting. It makes the cars look overly shiny and cartoony, which is hard to wrap your head around because in every other aspect the cars look almost eerily real. I find myself most of the time changing the car paint to matte so that there is less glare on the overly polished look inside the garage. That aside, the game looks fantastic. It is breathtaking how far the graphics engines have come and Horizon looks to be one of the best looking games of 2014.
Now we come to the game play and storyline. Sticking to their original formula they keep the racing mood competitive but positive spirited, and focused around their fame system which is based around XP. You earn XP by drifting, drafting, passing, going airborne. Actually pretty much anything you do in the car you can gain XP and link together in a chain to achieve a multiplier. There are a multitude of things you can do in the game whether it’s free roam driving, sanctioned races, head-to-head against driver AI, and now there is something they call “Bucket List” challenges. Each challenge pits you in a different car trying to meet a certain goal. These bucket list cars can be found all over the map and give you a nice change of pace from the typical races that you do throughout the game. There is no antagonist that makes you want to jump through the screen and slap him around as if you’re the “Ultimate Warrior”. But instead, there is a racing legend that just guides you along as the races and road trips go along. Added to the game play in this edition, are the bonus skills you can unlock and use to gain more XP with each different type of skill. Gaining XP throughout the game gives you not only fame but the ability to unlock these bonus skills. Skills like earning 15% more XP each time you drift or earning more credits each time you win a head-to-head race. As usual with any of the Forza games when you level up you win a prize, but Horizon 2 gives you a chance to spin a prize wheel and win anything ranging from a small amount of credits to a high amount, or even a car!
One of the last additions to the game is that of the Road trip aspect. Instead of just being introduced to a new area in the game, once you have reached a certain level or completed a certain amount of races, you meet back at the HUB for the tournament and you take a road trip with other players and cars to the next city that you will be visiting. It adds a bit of fun to the discovering roads experience because you can race against other players and do it your own way as long as you make it to your destination in a given time limit.
If you haven’t picked up the theme so far, there isn’t much that I can find to complain about with this game. They stuck with their guns and produced a game that was as a good as the first but somehow still was able to offer refreshing new elements. Although I will say, the multiplayer side of the game, despite adding the road trip part to it, really didn’t change much at all and honestly, I didn’t expect it to. It’s almost like the entire game itself is one big multiplayer experience. Also, I do wish they would offer more on the music side of the game. Not everyone wants to listen to dub-step and house music while they race around in incredibly fast cars.
Forza Horizon 2 Gets
4.5 out of 5
+Stunningly Beautiful Game
+Solid game play with refreshing new aspects
+No more annoying antagonist to listen to
-Overly-buffed graphics inside the garage
-Lack of music choice