Best Summer ever!
When the first Forza Horizon game launched, it was a breath of fresh air. An open world playground for all things car, the game experience was offered in stark contrast to the sterile racing of the parent Forza titles. It was exciting, often surprising and undoubtedly fun. I loved it. With Forza Horizon 2 looming on the … horizon, can Turn 10 Studios, along with Playground Games for the Xbox One version and Sumo Digital for the Xbox360 version, strike gold again?
Forza Horizon 2 once again revolves around the fictional Horizon Festival, a celebration of gorgeous cars, fancy driving and music. This time around, the festival is taking place in southern Europe and players will find themselves with a much larger playground than in the previous title.
In order to become the best driver at the festival, players will have to compete in and win a number of championships through the course of their Forza Horizon 2 career. From the main site of the festival, the player will have to drive, or fast travel, to various hubs and then take on championships, which consist of a set number of events, with a variety of different vehicles. The events are varied, with both circuits and point to point races taking place on differing terrains.
However, the events themselves are only a small part of Forza Horizon 2. Even getting to these events is set up as an adventure. The player first chooses the championship which they want to take part in next, with categories such as off-road, super cars and track toys. They will then have to make sure they have a suitable car before heading off on a road trip. The road trip is a leisurely drive to whichever hub the championship is set from. However, make the trip within a time limit and the player will receive a nice chunk of experience for their trouble. Road trips are a great way of discovering the countryside and getting used to a new car before the races begin. They also serve to prepare the player by allowing them to experience the delights of sliding their car through a field, or to enjoy night driving or driving in the rain before experiencing them in a race environment.
Once at the hub, players will then find the events that make up the championship in the surrounding area, prompting more driving from one event to the next. One of the successes of Forza Horizon 2 is that this traveling around the map, from hub to hub or event to event, never gets tired or boring. There is so much to see and discover in the game, and even a simple drive can bring the player rewards.
Much of the reward for driving comes in the form of experience. Players can earn experience any time they are driving, and will be rewarded for acts of skill such as drifting, catching air and even clean driving. That’s right, players will be rewarded for not driving too aggressively. As they gather experience, the player will level up and unlock points to spend on perks. These ongoing rewards can be anything from a bonus to experience earned through drafting to discounts at the tuning shop or cheap fast travel. They will also earn a “wheel spin”, which is like a fruit machine offering free cash or even cars to the player.
However, more rewards await the adventurous player. Cruising around the map, players will come across ad boards to be smashed for experience or fast travel discounts. The brilliant barn finds return, challenging players to find a barn containing an unwanted classic car, which will be fixed up and added to the players car collection. The special events also return, with races against the likes of trains or planes offering a bit of fun. New to Forza Horizon 2 is the bucket list. These are spread all over the map and will have the player completing a variety of tasks in different vehicles.
The Drivatars from Forza 5 populate the Forza Horizon 2 world, with representations of your friends and other players popping up all over the place in the game. At any point, the player can choose to take on one of these Drivatars in a point to point race for experience and cash, and your own Drivatar will earn rewards for the player as they compete in other players’ games. And this is all before you take the game online.
You have the option to take the game online as a whole, opening up the massive playground to other players and then starting races or just hanging out and exploring. Or you can now start a new online Road Trip which will have four events linked together with the drive between them, for the players to enjoy and compete in, with the overall winner being the one who managed to gather the most experience. It may not offer much new, but the road trip provides a more structured online experience for players who just don’t want to muck around.
The visual and audio side of Forza Horizon 2 are simply something to experience. The game looks absolutely beautiful on the Xbox One. The scenery may lack a little variety, but there is still plenty to look at and enjoy in the game, especially with the day/night cycle and the weather effects. The soundtrack is massive and, although consisting of mostly dance tunes, even offers some variety with a spot of classical music on one of the in-game radio stations.
Forza Horizon 2 easily out drives the previous game in the series. With more than 150 championships to take part in, plenty of reasons to cruise around and explore, and a solid online mode, this is a driving game that will keep players entertained for a whole season of gaming. With Summer now becoming a distant memory, Forza Horizon 2 offers a chance to relive, and perhaps exceed, your own Summer adventure. Absolutely brilliant!