The fictional but oh-so-awesome-we-wish-it-was-real “Horizon Festival” makes its welcome return. But this time, you’ll be taking your exotic rides into the most beautiful locales within southern Europe (which is composed on southern France and northern Italy). Your goals stay the same – acquire sweet rides, take incredible photos of said rides, engage in championship events and embark upon fun road trips that take you to your next destination. The plot here is easy to comprehend, yet you won’t need to pay much attention to it since it all revolves around racing and partying. You’ll see a couple of cutscenes along the way as you converge with the festival promoter and your fellow racers, but they’re not important enough to keep your attention on the overall story.
What matters more than what this festival is all about is just how gorgeous everything looks. As expected, the huge roster of cars (trucks, hot hatches, exotic rides, beetle automobiles etc.) look indistinguishable from its real-life counterparts. It’s great to see that the devs got the OK to showcase some more significant vehicle damage this time around. Smashing into other cars or roadside obstacles will definitely be reflected in your ride’s aesthetics at the end of a hard fought race. Each of the new locations you’ll compete in look just as amazing as the cars racing in them. Each of the small villages, beach side roadways, tunnels, wide open roads etc. all have their own unique look and theme. The added weather system effects do a great job of not only changing how these locations look, but how you’ll approach racing on them. Simply put, Forza Horizon 2 looks good enough to feature on a real-life postcard.
The audio also maintains the high standards set by the game’s predecessor. The sound of revving engines, bumper to bumper crashes and wheels running across dirt roads and more fit the game perfectly. The varied soundtrack that exists within the game’s fictional radio stations offer something for everyone. There’s seven station in total that offers over 150 tracks that spans several genres (pop, electronica, nu-disco, indie rock and even classic orchestra). After hours of winning championships and free riding around the game’s huge open world, you’ll find yourself humming along to your favorite tunes in no time.
Forza Horizon 2 retains the formula seen in the 1st game and polishes it for a very fun next-gen experience. The basic structure of this racer breaks down to winning races, completing unbelievable challenges (try your hardest to beat a speeding train), making your way to the next race destination through road trips and participating in online racing events. While the overall mechanics stay the same, they’re just as fun as carefree as they’ve been before. The option to select different vehicles and change up the type of championship events you can compete in means players have the freedom to play however they please. The mystery bar car finds systems is still intact, which stays as a fun diversion and preferable method to gaining new rides. And of course, the game’s sense of speed makes this racer a lot more fun to get sucked over its simulation-style brethren.
Among the newest mechanics lies the Horizon Bucket List and Cross Country Races. Various challenges lie around several parts of the in-game world, which let you temporarily change your current car and take on a fresher experience. These events help maintain the fresh factor of the game as you start to grow tired of running sprint races. And the added experience of racing across farm fields of other off-road terrain is a great new way to race. The overall feel of this races and the added challenge of properly maneuvering across such rough terrain never gets tiresome. As you drive around, you’ll practically gain experience for everything. Drifting, drafting, making clean passes, purposefully spinning out, bumping into your rivals etc. awards you the XP needed to upgrade your skills and gain new ones. Even more fun can be had from just driving around freely and picking up some extra XP as you race towards your next even. Earning new perks keeps you on the road to glory at all times.
Forza Horizon 2 does a great job of replicating teh single-player experience in its multiplayer options. You’ll have even more fun as you join car clubs, show off your ride to other racers, set up events and gather up even more XP. Besides the online play, this racer offers so much more to get addicted to. The presence of Drivatars, getting the option to take pics of your cars for cash and getting to use your GPS through the Kinect are just some of the other great features this game exhibits. The only issue that may arise during your time with the game is the exceeding difficulty. At times, you’ll grow infuriated as you miss 1st place by a half-a-second or get bumped off the road right back into last place. Thankfully, the rewind option is still there to help manage your frustration and give you another chance at winning.
As far as a next-gen racer goes, Forza Horizon 2 lies at the head of the pack. The open-world racing structure, addictive XP/perks system, new Horizon Bucket List/Cross Country Races and awesome soundtrack will immediately hook you. Seeing these model automobiles in action looks and sounds incredible. The difficulty of each proceeding championship sprint may deter you at times, but it won’t do enough to take you out of the beautiful world that accompanies the 2nd “Horizon Festival.”