Forza Horizon 2 Review for Xbox One

Forza Horizon 2 Review for Xbox One

Understanding The Open World Formula

The concept of the open-world game is the ability to basically do whatever you want. While the programmers might be telling you “the game is this way” open world games reward you for wandering off into a field for hours, trying to make your own fun. This is actually why I have always been skeptical of the open world driving genre. No matter how far off the beaten path you travel, you are just going to be doing more driving. In other open world racing games, this meant you’d drive on a road, go through a field somewhere, then get to another road. It was as if the open world existed as little more than a way to travel from one actual race to another.

Forza Horizon 2 , however, understands the actual spirit behind open world games. The reason why going off the beaten path is fun is because of the variety it offers. While you will have more than your fair share of asphalt roads to tear up, Forza Horizon ’s small strip of Europe offers so much more.

Maybe your thing is driving through nearly haunted woods at night. Maybe driving through swamp is more your speed. How about tearing tracks up and down the coastline. There’s tons of other locales for you to experience. You can head to farms and tear your own crop circles in fields of wheat. You can head to abandoned air-field and ram yourself off shipping containers. You can absolutely ruin the majestic beauty of a bright and colorful field of flowers by plowing a van through them. You can race alongside a train, under a hot air balloon, around an air-plane and so much more. There is always something new to find, and that is the main reason for going off road in this game. You just want to see what location you’ll be able to drive through next.

And these locations aren’t just aesthetic. The Forza team really knows how to make each of these locations feel completely unique. One of the primary ways they do that is by playing with elevation. Racing through a forest will face you with tons of dips and hills for you to contend with. Racing on a mountain road always slopes your car slightly to one side. Even flat fields have more variations in their elevation than simple roads. The up and down jostling of your car, and the control compensation you’ll have to allow for as a driver, makes simply driving through each location a different beast, let alone racing through them.

Forza Horizon 2 Screenshot

Road type is also a big area of variety in this game. Cars handle completely different on dirt as they do on asphalt. Combined with the aforementioned elevation tricks, Forza Horizon 2 basically makes each different locale in the game a different driving experience. The cuts and drifts of a winding country road provide a gameplay experience with a completely different tempo and feel to driving through an open lot trying to get the most air off a ramp. In a way, Forza Horizon 2 actively seeks to reward you for seeking out the type of gameplay that you enjoy the most.

The differences in terrain in Forza Horizon 2 are most apparent in cross country races. As you would expect, these races are simply a mad dash to get from point A to point B. It’s up to you, the knowledge of your car, and your knowledge of the terrain to make it there. When you start these events you’ll usually try to do the natural thing: drive in a straight line, but soon you’ll learn how to terrain to your advantage. Yes, this means sick jumps. Oh man the sick jumps.

Forza Horizon 2 Screenshot

I’ve been talking a lot about how much fun it is to just go off the beaten path in Forza Horizon 2 , and that’s because I feel like this is sort of the main focus of the game. But if you are more of the traditional racing type, there are over seven hundred events for you to partake in. You’ll take on courses designed to showcase different car models, stacked with different numbers of competitors, and strewn across different locales. You can go online and challenge your friends in one on one races or tournaments, or you can race offline against ghost A.I. opponents modeled after your friends. You can participate in “bucket list” challenges which involve speed goals, stunt goals and more. The game captures what makes games like GTA so much fun, in that you know there is a path to the game’s end, but you can just meander along doing whatever and you know you will be steadily making progress.

All of this is tied up together through the concept of skill points. Skill points were kind of a throwaway in the original Forza Horizon . However, this time around they unlock perks that change the way the game is played. You can pretty much surmise what most these perks are, discounts on car purchases, XP boosts, so on so forth. However, there are a handful of perks that actually change mechanics as well. I’ll admit I mostly ignored these perks in lieu of the “get better stuff faster” perks, but your mileage may vary.

I usually don’t talk about graphics in my reviews, because I honestly believe graphics are secondary to gameplay in all instances. However, it’s really worth talking about them, just a little, for Forza Horizon 2 . The racing genre is, traditionally, an eye-candy genre. Gear heads love to drool over the makes and models of real cars being rendered to perfection. I myself am not a gear head, so I could not tell you whether or not the siding on a particular sports car is exactly how it is on the factory model.

Forza Horizon 2 Screenshot

What I can tell you, is that the locations in the game are absolutely beautiful. Remember when I talked about driving through a dark forest or through a field of flowers. Part of the reason that you find yourself doing that is because the landscape is just breathtaking. You can easily go on a sightseeing trip just to see the crisp and smooth visuals of the ocean, or the mountains, or even busy city streets. On the flip side of that coin, crashes are absolutely harrowing. You flip and turn and flail your arms as pieces of your car break off and scatter everywhere. They actually induce a bit of nauseous panic so… don’t flip your car over.

Forza Horizon 2 is just a better game than pretty much every open world driving game before it. I mean it. It may not revolutionize the formula in brand new and interesting ways, but it understands what it’s trying to be. It understands what all open world racing games should strive to be. If you are a racing fan, you should definitely try this one out.

Great views, awesome cars, and nauseating crashes. 4.0 Control
Cars handle tight and uniquely./div> 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The soundtrack is many and varied, from classical to rock. 4.5 Play Value
This is probably one of the better racing titles this year, and this has been a heavy racing year. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Explore a Massive, Living Open World – A world of beauty and freedom awaits. The next evolution of the best-in-class Forza graphics engine delivers full day and night cycle with spectacular weather, lighting, and visual effects. An epic road trip career mode adapts to your car choices with hundreds of events across a beautiful and diverse European landscape. However you like to play, there is an endless variety of free-roam driving fun. Whether you’re racing, hunting hidden treasures like exotic barn find cars, or showing off your customized rides at car meet locations spread across the world, the choice is yours.
  • Action-Packed Driving – Take risks and earn rewards for showing off your driving skills and style. Smash through fences onto back country dirt trails, plow though fields of crops and dense forests, and discover new shortcuts on your thrilling, high-speed adventures. Race against aircraft and trains in thrilling Showcase events. Make your name at the Horizon Festival. Whether you’re racing in traffic, catching huge air, or racking up skill points and combos with awesome stunts, your legacy begins here.
  • Instantly Connect with Friends – Only on Xbox One. Jump between solo and online play instantly. No lobbies, no waiting. Join friends online and free roam together, compete in races and team modes, or take part in fun co-op Bucket List challenges. Join or create your own Car Club of up to 1000 members to expand your network of friends and rule the leaderboards. In solo play, Drivatar technology fills your world with your friends even when they aren’t online.
  • Your Ultimate Car Fantasy – Drive more than 200 of the world’s greatest cars. A diverse collection of amazing vehicles ranging from extreme off-roaders to modern supercars, classic muscle, and much more. Every car and truck is recreated in obsessive detail, with full cockpit views, including functional windshield wipers, working headlights, and authentic interiors.
  • The Horizon Festival invites you to join its celebration of cars, music, freedom, and fun on the world’s greatest roads. Get ready for the road trip of your life!

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