I’ve been a Forza fan/gamer since Forza 2 on the Xbox 360, and Forza Horizon was/is one of my most favorite games ever, so naturally I pre-ordered and bought Horizon 2. In this review I hope to go over some key points of the game and why I think you should buy it.
Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need… roads
Forza Horizon 2 is truly an open world game. You can drive for miles and miles without ever touching a road, and I love it. This brings the reality factor of the game way up from Horizon 2. Yes, there are still invisible walls (and real ones) but they are far and few between. All the invisible walls have a physical wall below them; they’re just there so you can’t jump over the physical walls (probably so you don’t find yourself stuck off-map). The only downside to the open world format that I can think of is that you need to get creative during 1v1 match-ups with other players’ drivatars, they’ll cut corners and run through fields leaving you hopelessly behind if you don’t follow suit.
In my experience I’ve only encountered one glitch: I hit a wall by the coast really hard and I fell through the map. Much like when you land on your roof the game quickly reset my car. Although I haven’t had this issue my friend has experienced game freezing with his copy/system. Most recently this occurred when he tried to join my online party. Personally I haven’t had a freezing issue even playing for extended periods. I will say sometimes it takes a minute or two for the game/Xbox to add up my credits at the end of a race (addition can be hard).
Unlike Forza 5 it seems there is a much more diverse selection of cars from the get-go (and included with the price of the game). Notables include the Caterham and the Bugatti Veyron SS (both of which were additional purchases in Forza 5). If you’d like to indulge in your SUV/pickup fantasies there are a couple to choose from, such as the Ram Runner, the Raptor, the F100 and the most useless of all, a Cadillac Escalade. To embrace the open-world layout you can buy yourself an LM rally fighter or Bowler EXR with huge tires and miles of suspension travel.
Unlike Forza 5 the races in Horizon 2 take place on courses made from roads on the map. In most official events you are on closed roads (no oncoming traffic) which is a great thing, but I do miss the licensed tracks of Forza 5.The biggest downer of the Horizon 2 race format is perhaps the checkpoint system. In order to make sure people don’t cut corners in actual races they’ve decided to employ a checkpoint system, which gets really annoying if your challengers decide to push you out of the checkpoint range. If you miss one it gives you 3 seconds to hit it or it sends you back before the point (huge penalty). I’d honestly rather have the sticky grass from Forza 5.
If you’re expecting to a precision simulator like Forza 5 or Gran Turismo, look elsewhere, Forza Horizon 2 is not that. The driving dynamics are entirely different; you can take turns at a hundred mph in a big SUV or drift a 300 foot corner. Most importantly, it is VERY hard to take out a fellow driver. Unlike Forza 5 where you tap another racer and they go shooting off the track you really can’t do anything of the sort in Horizon 2. This won’t come as any surprise to folks who played Horizon 1; it’s the exact same driving dynamics.
Like Horizon, Horizon 2 has multiplayer free-roam. You can join a lobby with a bunch of other racers and work towards completing bucket-list events (I.E. both people go through a speed-zone at more than 150 mph within 30 seconds) OR you can opt to join other players in race events. The decision to join is up to you and if you don’t like the event you can just keep driving around in free-roam. There is another type of multiplayer where you can join a lobby to go on road trips. (following a set course from one city to another), a more directed type of multiplayer. The game said there was a third multiplayer where you go straight into a race (I haven’t found this option yet, but to be honest I haven’t looked very hard). All XP and credits you earn in multiplayer transfer to solo mode (and vice-versa). You can also buy and upgrade cars while in online free-roam.
Personally I don’t notice much of a difference in graphics over the original Horizon (but then I don’t think Forza 5 looks that much better than Horizon 1 either). The big difference here is that the Xbox One’s better than Xbox 360 graphics allow flawless open-world play and changing weather. I haven’t tried it on the Xbox 360 so I’m not sure what these features are like on the less powerful system. I must confess I play on a 1080p computer monitor 2 feet from my face so on a bigger TV and farther away maybe the graphics look better. By no means does Forza Horizon 2 have bad graphics, I think really it’s just a nod to how great the graphics on Forza Horizon 1 were.
A beef I have with many video games is the inability to skip intros and instructions. Forza Horizon 2 falls victim to this issue in droves. If you played the Horizon 2 demo you know how long the initial intro to this game is. You don’t get to do anything on your own until you complete the first road trip and after you watch the very long (albeit awesome) intro video. The real game is no different, it makes you sit through the same stuff, which in my case was the third time and it was very annoying… Other things include telling you about menus when you open them or upgrades, or car buying… I can understand the usefulness if you’re a Forza newbie but for Forza veterans it’s extremely cumbersome.
Horizon 2 also makes you complete several races before you can go online or buy a car… If you plan on buying the game to quickly hop on with your buddies who already have it, you better allot an hour for you to do all the intro stuff and beat the required races before you can game online.
If you’ve played previous Forza games and you haven’t logged on to Forza rewards you are putting yourself at a serious disadvantage. Based on a tier system, the more Forza games you’ve played (in-depth) the higher tier you are and the more rewards you get. Tier 6 players (for instance) get 1.5 million credits every month. Turn 10 has made redeeming rewards even easier than before with Horizon 2. They’ve created something called Forza Hub, which is an app on the Xbox One. Instead of having to open a web-browser and visit their site separately you can view and redeem rewards right from your Xbox now… That being said, I redeemed my 1.5 million credits on October 1st and have yet to get them in my Horizon 2 account… Hopefully just day one jitters.
Forza Horizon 2 is a great game, the open-world is amazing, and makes the game worth its price simply for that (IMO). If you only like racing simulators then this game isn’t for you, but if you like to have some fun racing with buddies on a bunch of different terrains then don’t think. Just buy it.