This review was made possible due to a review copy by Microsoft Studios.
I was introduced into the Forza series when I had my Xbox 360. So I knew when I bought my Xbox One I needed to buy a Forza game. I played Forza Motorsport 5, but there was something about it that did not satisfy me. Forza Horizon 2 however, was the racing game that I really enjoyed and always wanted to play. Horizon 2 is one of those games that focus on the cars, just as much as the landscape. The result here is a truly beautiful game.
The startup in Horizon is a little cheesy, and it felt like it was going to go down one of the same roads as a Need for Speed game. Once you get passed all of the annoying tutorials and audio-instructions, it is a very fun game.
The story in Horizon is subtle, but needed. You are a rookie driver who is in the Horizon Festival, which is an annual race competition that takes place is southern France and Northern Italy. Your goal as a racer is to master all of the cars and types of races in order to make it to the Horizon Final - a showdown between all of the best drivers.
This is a racing game, and therefore the focus should be more on gameplay rather than story. Once again, Horizon does not disappoint in this category. There are many different types of races you can take part of. The game actually has you racing jets and trains, resulting in truly epic races. The road trips you go on are beautiful, and they immerse you with the countryside as you drive from village to village. Races are also very well done, as they change based on which championship you choose to race. For example, if you choose a Jeep Liberty from “Offroaders” all four of the races will be mainly off road, rather than through the streets. The only problem I had with the gameplay was that the computer AI are very collision-prone during the road trips, which can sometimes damper the mood that the game sets.
When it comes to simulation, the game recreates the physics from Forza Motorsport 5, but with arguably more customization. You can adjust the settings to choose settings on how realistic the game will be. The more realistic, the harder it will be. This works to an extent, but I felt like I had to jack up the difficulty to stop me from winning by a mile. I was always used to the hardest difficulty being unbeatable, but in Horizon it is easy when all of the realistic modifiers are turned off (i.e. simulation damage, no guideline, etc.). If you are unlike me and want an arcade experience, this may be an issue for you.
The game is loaded with content. It has over 200 cars of all different classes, and they look great. You buy cars with credits, which are not hard to come by. There are plenty of ways to earn credits, but it does not make the game easy, or hard. If you work hard and do well, you will earn a fair amount of credits. Horizon also offers a lot of additional gameplay to the main races. You are able to find classic cars around the map in abandon barns, listen to multiple radio stations, and do “bucket list” challenges. This provides some break-up to the main gameplay.
When it comes to the environment, the game truly feels like you are driving through Europe. The open farms can be driven through, the roads are smooth and winding, and the dynamic weather system makes each environment change. There is also a day and night cycle that can provide some change to the difficulty, such as a rally race may take longer in the rain. You are able to customize your car based on the weather, which can make or break a race. This provides a nice realistic outlook on the Forza series.
Another thing that has always impressed me with the Froza series is the Drivatars. These are much like AI, but they are based off of drivers from all around the world. You will eventually have a drivatar once you race enough, and it will be unique to your style of race. Horizon 2 goes far enough to actually give you credits from the races where your drivatar won or did well. This can add up and will help you when you need a little extra cash to buy that Aston Martin One-77 you always wanted.
Forza Horizon 2 is just an all around great game. It tops Forza 5, Need For Speed Rivals, and Driveclub, as it is a game that looks good, has a lot of content, and is fully customizable to you, the gamer (or driver). It offers a vast world where you can drive around alone or with your friends. This game seriously made me wish that the Horizon Festival were real, as the atmosphere is so exciting and the cars are so beautiful. Horizon is a must buy for Xbox owners and racing fans all over.
Positives: Beautiful World, Lots of Content, Customizable
Negatives: Too Easy, Cheesy Intro
What do you think? Have you played Forza Horizon 2? Let us know in the comments below!