Forza Horizon 2
Precision Racing in the Countryside
By Bradley Lewis
Racing games are all basically the same. Lets face it. I mean there are basically two different types. you have simulation racing games that try to be as realistic as possible and then you have racing games that are of the arcade variety which focus on more what makes the game more fun, rather then it being realistic. Both of these types of games provide entertainment to masses of fans of racing games. Forza Horizon 2 is actually in neither of those categories for racing games, mainly because it is a mix of both of them and it does it splendidly.
Forza Horizon 2 is a blend of the traditional Forza simulation with the arcade"iness" of other racing games such as Need for Speed. You have deep car setup when you have tone chances to tune your car to your exact specifications, but at the same time you have an open world that provides race types that are never found in simulation types of racing game. For instance you have in every race a type of style points system that the more skill moves and achievements you earn the higher the multiplier and hence more EXP for you driver level. But you lose all such EXP if you hit a wall or tree, which are basically the only two immovable objects in the game. It makes for very interesting races due to the fact that you take many more risks than you normally would, such as trying to sideswipe a wooden dance as you round a corner. These skill chains make leading a race much more entertaining than say in Forza 5. These elements along with the finding of hidden cars, and also the addition of various types of racing make for great gameplay.
The different types of racing is perhaps the best element of Forza Horizon 2. There are series of races that you participate in which are 4 races long. Each series takes place in a different region of Southern France and Northern Italy. Depending on what car you are currently driving or have in your garage, depends upon the race types that your current series will contain. For instance, driving a Ferrari 458 will give you street racing normally through a village and countryside, while driving a 1942 US Military Jeep will bring off-roading and perhaps a hill climb of some sort.
There is one element of this game that can be very annoying. It is called a car meet. A car meet is where you take the car you are currently driving to a certain place in the open world where you can compare your setup with other players in the game at the same car meet location. You can then from there challenge other drivers in a matchup from there. But here is the annoying part. The load times from the open world to the car meet are not exactly short, and also every time you come into the game world you start in a car meet automatically, which becomes very annoying when all you want to so is get into the actual game world. It is a good addition since it adds a level of interaction amongst players and each can show off their custom designs on their vehicles, but it did not add a tremendous amount to the experience.
The variety of cars in Forza Horizon 2 is a very good thing. One of the largest complaints about Forza 5, and rightfully so, was that there was a rather limited array of cars in the original game. They of course add the car packs, which are ridiculously expensive by the way, to try and add the total but this does not count to most people. Forza 5 also had a limited number of tracks at launch which was also a drawback even though it was considered by many to be a great game. Forza Horizon 2 does not suffer from lack of cars or lack of tracks. After logging over 30 hours in the game, the same exact track and race type was not played twice. It was a rather refreshing change of pace from traditional racing games that always had you playing the same tracks. Of course this makes you have to become a driver that can adapt to an ever changing track which is difficult to get used to when you have done track racing a whole lot in games.
Drivatars make their return in this game and they are actually improved from what can be deciphered in the game. The open world that Forza Horizon 2 offers along with drive-atars going about makes free-roaming much fun. You can challenge any drivatar that you see by simply getting close to them, and you receive bonus money and EXP for beating what they call experienced or skillful drivers. Just make sure you have a car capable of winning, especially if your car is damaged because it will not repair itself before a free-roaming challenge. All of this makes going throughout Southern France and Northern Italy at 200 MPH a beautiful experience. Graphically it is not Forza 5 quality with all of th slighting effects but at 200 MPH it does still look quite well.
The use of the kinect as 'ANNA' is a work in progress but when it works it is brilliant gameplay addition. ANNA is part GPS navigation and part 'Siri.' She can give you something to do, or can help you get to a certain race that you want to accomplish. Of course, we all the know the pluses and minuses of voice commands, which leads to about a 50/50 success rate. It is a cool idea and when it works it is nice, but you do feel like an idiot screaming at your kinect when it is not doing what you want it to do.
Overall, Forza Horizon 2 is everything that you could want from an open world racing game. It does keep the essence of everything that is traditionally Forza, and it keeps the arcade feel that Horizon has brought to the table.
Forza Horizon 2 gets a 9.2 out of 10.0 from Game Review Radio.