Yup, call me lazy. Not only is this review two weeks after release, but I’ll even admit I shamelessly cut and pasted the banner art from Destructoid’s Forza Horizon 2 review.
I’m not a big racing fan, and I didn’t even play Forza Horizon 1 on Xbox 360 years back. From what I remember it’s an open world game at 30 fps, while the typical Forza Motorsport game is a circuit racer at 60 fps. I owned Forza 2, 3 and 4 on 360 and barely played them. I skipped Forza 5 on Xbox One. I’ve never played an open world racing game before, so my experience playing Forza, Gran Turismo and Daytona USA in the arcades is sitting there doing endless laps around a track trying to get first place or beat a track time. So to me, pretty boring.
Here’s a video of my lousy driving skills! Choose 1080p if you want.
So what’s the verdict? Fantastic and Fresh!
- For an open world racer, the visuals are excellent. Textures, reflections, and up close details are incredible. Even pedestrians are acceptable, but nothing great. Ben (the annoying narrator) moves like a robot
- Solid 30 fps 99% of the time, but I noticed occasional stutters
- The game has blur effect. So when whizzing around, don’t expect surroundings to look crisp as if you are playing a smooth 60 fps game
- The setting is varied beyond belief. Fields, buildings, paved roads, dirt roads, trees, smoke, debris, additional models like planes, balloons or the train (events) add extra flare, and CPU AI and Drivatar AI buzzing around give the game a feeling of driving in a real location
- There are day/night cycles and rain. Pretty sure there is no snow effects
- The game has destruction to a degree. Certain things like cheap wooden fences, small trees/bushes, street poles, tables and chairs etc…. can be demolished. But some things like large trees, buildings, strong metal fences and such are invincible
- Cars can be damaged and pieces of debris flying everywhere
- There is a photo mode which makes snapshots look even better as the game seems to polish up the visuals. All kinds of camera/colour functions are included
- Cars look incredible. And all the additional decals you can add (or pick from other users) adds variety instead of bland one coat paint jobs
- The biggest drawback is pop in. In the first minute you play, you will see anything from tree leaves, shadows, and structures pop in
- Overall, great visuals. Understandable a game like this runs at 30 fps
- I’m no car expert, so anything to do with car sounds I can’t comment on. I have no idea whether Car X or Car Y have authentically recorded sounds or if the sound bite is made up
- The game includes a number of radio stations. I don’t know exactly how many stations and songs, but I’d say I have 6-7 stations and each one must have at least 10 songs each
- Good variety of songs, but this is both a good and bad point. If you love variety, all the better. If you are like me and prefer rock/alternative, then half the stations are unbearable to listen to. There is no “Mix” station either. For me, I leave it on XS or Hospital
- There is also GPS assistant Anna who isn’t hard on the ears (sounds like a robotic lady in her 50s)…..
- ….. on the other hand, narrator Ben is among the most annoying people I’ve listened to in a game
- Overall, decent sound. You’ll score the audio a higher mark than me if you like a wide variety of tunes. And I bet all of you will agree Ben sounds like an ass
- Immediately, the first impressions of Forza Horizon 2 are not good (to me). It’s a racing game everyone wants to jump in and floor it. Instead, you get a number of unskippable cut-scenes, long loading times and that asshead Ben constantly chiming in to hold your hand. These tutorial tips can’t be skipped either no matter what buttons you mash. If you played the demo, you know what I mean. After about 2 hours of getting used to the game and doing some tutorial stuff, the handholding finally stops
- A draw back throughout the game is loading times. There’s lots of it, so get used to staring at the round circle in the bottom corner and watching the same wheat field montage over and over again
- Once you start playing, it is fast and fun. The map has everything from straight highways to bushy fields to dense trees to urban areas with tight corners. You can drive to almost any place on the map
- The game has ANNA, an optional GPS assistant. If you have a Kinect, you can speak to her and she will show you things that are nearby. The mini map will also show you in green the correct road path to take to get to a designated point. Of course, you can always skip the green line and cut through fields, in which ANNA will get confused and the green line will be constantly auto-correcting assuming you want to drive on a road. Haha
- There are 5 camera angles: first person, cockpit, hood, and two behind the car. For intense fun, choose something like hood view and plow through fields as all the bushes are hitting your car half blinding you
- There is so much to cover about Forza’s customization I’m not going to go over it as it could last forever, but you know the drill regarding Forza games…. custom paint jobs, tuning, over 200 cars from various makes, models, and years. There’s something for everyone
- A great thing about paint jobs is that when you buy a car, you can select from default paint jobs or pick from designs other people have made! For one of my free cars (an old pick-up), I chose the Sanford & Son design someone made. Brilliant
- There’s also lots of options to adjust difficulty such as brake assists, driving lines, arcade or sim, mechanical damage on/off etc…
- Championship events include 4 races in them. Pick or buy a suitable car and race against the cpu. The better you place, the higher the points. Add up the points from the 4 races and and hope you win (max of 20 pts per race). Every championship event won brings you closer to the finale. You have to win 16 of them to get there
- I noticed that driving against the CPU in rally style races (through fields) is tougher to win than racing them on road races
- Bucket Lists are quick objectives you activate. It can be beating a speed goal, taking photos, doing jumps, passing cars close, beating track times etc….
- Some cars can be challenged. When you get near them it will allow you to press X. It’s then a race to a finish line somewhere. If you win you get XP/CR
- Cars are sprinkled on the map and are a combo of CPU AI and Drivatars which act based on the gamer it is based on. Some cars are marked “average”, “pro” or “highly skilled” It makes a difference. Average cars can be beat pretty easily, but the better cars will cut through fields with more aggressiveness and efficiency
- There are a number of XP and fast travel discount signs all over the map. XP is important for leveling, but fast travel discount boards…. who cares
- Fast travel can be done to your garage (free) or to championship event hubs (regular price is 6,000 CR). Travel to these cost money
- Every so often, barns will pop up and you can look for them within a vague radius circle that is placed on the map. If you find it you get a free car
- There are Car Meet areas where you can meet people and check out there cars
- There’s a number of online modes. You can also join clubs which can hold 1,000 gamers
- Leveling up allows you to pick perks, but I find most are useless as it’s mostly +10% this or that, with exception of something like the “fast travel anywhere”. You also get to spin the wheel for prizes which you get either credit or a free car. I’m around level 40-ish. I think I’ve won 5-6 cars
- There is both replay mode and photo mode which look incredible. In photo mode you can adjust zoom, height, focus and colouring
- There are some other annoyances though. Changing cars cannot be done on the fly. You have to either go to your home garage or pick a car at a championship hub
- When in championship races, you always start 8th out of 12 positions? Weird
- Also, when you download cars (such as my free pre-order pack), you still have to download it for 0 CR. And when getting a barn car, you still have to manually add so it shows up in your garage. Why not have these downloaded and barn cars just go straight to your garage? Extra hassles
The Old Guy in Me
Forza Horizon 2 is the best racer I’ve played. It does just about everything and I’m not confined to a track. Yeah, I know circuit racers are fun too, but for me having freedom is more interesting and exciting. The key drawbacks have to do with timing and hassles. If you are an impatient gamer, the loading times and tutorial intro will drive you nuts. And Ben is annoying as heck.
But you can drive all over the map doing this or that, choosing among many cars and for you detailed car buffs… tune and paint your cars with precision. You’ll then realize this game kind of does everything and most importantly runs smooth and is fun.