Forza Horizon was one of my favourite racing games last gen. I don't know what it was about it, maybe it was the open world and the excellent handling of the cars. Maybe it was the brilliant AI and beautiful graphics. I'm not sure, but thanks to the sad demise of the Project Gotham series, Horizon became the Xbox racer which I was pinning my hopes on this time around and it's now even better thanks to Forza Horizon 2.
With a new generation of consoles there are things we should expect; Better graphics, greater draw distances, better AI and photo realistic cars. Forza Horizon 2 has all of these things. It's also packed with so much content that you'll be kept busy until the next game comes around. Sometimes it's just hard to explain what it is about a game that appeals and that's what Forza Horizon 2 has going for it. There is just something that keeps on dragging you back for more, be it the combination of stunning scenery, excellent handling and the thumping soundtrack which is spread over many of the game's radio stations or the numerous cars at your disposal - and there are a lot.
So with all this content where do I possibly start? How about at the beginning.
As you no doubt know from the previous game, Forza Horizon is set around a festival of cars. You'll start out by earning a yellow band which allows you to take part in numerous championship events, each of which take place in various parts of the country. As you progress you'll improve your band rating and eventually take part in the major championship, with the aim being to be the best. Getting all the way to the grand final is going to take you a while, as generally you'll have to win four races per championship, as well as going on road trips in between each town in order to get to your latest destination.
It's not all about the festival of course as there is plenty more to do in between, such as finding hidden cars to add to your collection (barn finds), taking part in speed camera trials, finding new roads and even better, have the ability to jump between solo and online play instantly. There's no lobbies and no waiting, so you can compete in races and team modes or the co-op Bucket List, the latter of which offers fun challenges and can also be played solo. In fact there are more than 700 events in total spread across the region, so there's plenty to keep you busy.
I never played Forza 5 unfortunately, however the arrival of Forza Horizon 2 meant that I was able to experience one of its major features - Drivatars. I've heard a lot about this, but wasn't exactly sure what they were. I know now. Drivatars are basically cloud powered versions of your friends avatar. So instead of the game being filled with traditional A.I. opponents, Drivatars are based on other Xbox players and the way they drive when playing the game on their own system. It's not quite the same as racing online against these people, but it's as close as you'll get and it's a huge improvement over AI controlled opponents. There is also something quite satisfying about winning against someone on your friends list, even if it is the cloud and not them driving against you.
Another major feature is the addition of dynamic weather, this means that when you are driving along you'll end up in conditions such as rain, drizzle, and fog. All of these offer realistic effects, spraying water up onto your windscreen, leaving puddles on the driving surface and making the roads slippy. There is also a full day night cycle to contend with, which results in some stunning lighting as you as driving along to your destination - just remember to stop once in a while and capture some photos with the game's built in photo mode.
There's plenty of variety to be found in Forza Horizon 2, the roads for instance are all very different, be they long winding tracks up steep hills or small dirt roads which cut through the farm land. In fact sometimes you'll even find yourself racing through the crops themselves, cutting them down with your high speed and skidding all over the place, which will no doubt more than once end with your car spinning out of control. I even took to trying to find shortcuts by cutting across the land in order to shorten my journey time, although this generally resulted in me driving into a tree.
As you drive and win, your character will level up and improve, this will not only allow you to win prizes each time you level up, but it'll also introduce you to perks, a new feature that gives you the ability to fast travel to various spots on the map for free, earn additional credits when players download your tuning or livery files and more. You'll also be able to earn perks by performing drifts, jumps, skids, by bashing into things (lucky for me then) and more. It's really great being rewarded so much within the game, be that through new cars, perks or just with credits, which allow you to buy new vehicles, skins and more.
There is so much more to Forza Horizon 2 that i've not even covered, such as showdowns, which have you racing against trains and stunt jets, the ability to take on friend's times at the end of each race or the fact that you can create your own club, allowing you and your friends to team up and become the best there is. In fact I created an official ShopTo club for all of our readers to join, so make sure you sign up.
One other thing which is worth a mention is the Online Road Trips. These allow you to travel together with friends from location to location, competing in circuit races, point to point races, street races and more, before moving on to the next location, with the player with the most XP being crowned the winner. If that's not your thing, then you can also take part in an Online Free Roam session allowing for an easier pace set and locations set by the host. This is a great part f the game as it allows for more social driving than playing solo.
Whatever way you play, be that online or offline, Forza Horizon 2 has something for every racing fan out there. It may not offer the simulation of the likes of the main Forza series or the GT's of this world, but it's the closest thing to you'll get to driving dream cars all over southern Europe for fun without winning the lottery, so I'll take that and continue to dream.
Words by Joe Anderson.
Twitter: _@wotta | PSN/Xbox Live: wotta
(Version Tested: Xbox One)
+ Excellent Graphics
+ Dynamic Weather
+ Over 700 events
+ Large open world
+ Excellent multiplayer
- Hard to think of any