Forza Horizon 2 review - a sensational, next-generation racing sandbox

Author: Przemysław Zamęcki
Date: 2014-09-25 14:59:00
The review was based on the XONE version.

Forza Horizon, released a few years ago on Xbox 360, won the hearts of racing fans. What for me, I admit, was not entirely understandable. After a few hours of fun, Playground Games 'work became simply boring, and the whole thing was designed in such a way as to reach deeper into players' pockets when releasing new DLCs. This method of generating profits was improved by Microsoft at Forzy Motorsport 5 , which was released a year ago. The tactic is: cutting down the game from many important functions, reducing the number of available vehicles, and on the other hand, the absurd amount of money that had to be spent on popular, but only available as DLC cars.

This time Microsoft did not try to dazzle so much with reaching out for additional money . Despite the fact that some time ago we had the announcement of the season pass and the VIP program, after a dozen or so hours with the new Forza Horizon I did not feel treated as a player of a lower category. I had plenty of fun, and if I felt any limitations, they resulted from the structure of the entertainment itself, not the publisher's manipulation.

The fun moves from the North American state of Colorado to southern Europe, to the sunny regions of the border between Italy and France. We find ourselves in a world with almost no travel restrictions. Almost, because not all virtual elements will bend under the pressure of our racer's bumper. It is impossible to drive here and there because of the erected wall or indestructible bollards, which is just like in reality. The "bell" will also be provided by larger trees and electric poles. Any other "disturbances", including trash cans, roadside posts, and even chairs and tables in front of restaurants in coastal towns will provide us with additional points, increasing our driver status.

The second part of Horizon fits well with the tradition of the series. As fans of motorsport and racing enthusiasts, we set off for another festival where the best will compete against each other. We get behind the wheel and stop worrying about any plot, all that matters is the sense of momentum and the taste of victory.

Before we lose ourselves to the rest, however, the game tries to steer our steps gently but consistently. The available area has been divided into six sectors. Instead of wandering all over the map and chaotically looking for something to do, the authors try to organize the gameplay by providing one championship at a time; they take place only in one of the sectors mentioned. After completing them, usually after completing four races, the group goes to the next town to start the fun again.

Before the start, we are asked to choose the competition that suits us - although the game suggests only three, in fact we have access to the entire spectrum at any time - then most often we buy a new car in the showroom that matches the previous choice and we go. I do not like running by the hand in open world games, but I really liked the solution used in Forzy Horizon 2 . Thanks to it, instead of wasting time exploring the area in free driving mode at the beginning of the game, I threw myself into the races, which resulted in a much faster inflow of cash and experience points .

The championship, depending on the type of car, is divided into groups and subgroups. In total, there are over seven hundred individual races available in the game, making up over a dozen championships. The number of cars may seem modest, but their well-chosen models ensure appropriate differentiation.

Fans of classics and supercars, modern off-roads and classic rally cars, age-old muscle cars and those modern, stable hot hatches and crazy toys such as KTM or Caterham light constructions will find something for themselves. In addition, there are typical sports cars and GT machines. The creators prepared over two hundred models of cars for the start - from Toyota RZ to Hummer, you can not complain about their choice. At the beginning, we also graciously receive the first free DLC pack, containing a few additional cars, which is nice in itself, but also realizes that the authors intend to crush money for some time on more additions. And in the current state of the game, they don't seem necessary at all.

Since I mention this aspect of the fun, I should also mention a few words about the simulation settings in the game. Even if we turn off all aids such as stabilization of the track or ABS, we still do not have any special sense of realism. Of course, different types of vehicles differ in handling, we feel a significant change when we switch from Ford Focus to the old Chevrolet Camaro or then to Ferrari, but despite this, each of these cars will be pleasant and predictable to drive. For an arcade title, the people from Playground Games did a great job, creating an accessible and enjoyable, but diverse driving model . A huge plus. Maybe except for the fact that it skids too much when driving through vineyards and other conventional potatoes.

By winning subsequent races and collecting points for a spectacular ride, we advance to the next levels of experience and unlock special abilities. We can increase the pool of points received for effective driving in the shadow of a rival or double the credits earned by our driveatar. The creators do not give up the idea that previously appeared in Forzy Motorsport 5 and as rivals in the solo career they put other players' driveatars against us. In this way, we earn additional credits, which, however, in the game world may be enough for the so-called cotton balls. It's good that with each new level of experience we have a chance to spin the wheel and win one of the prizes. It can be more or less cash, and sometimes even a car. A very nice addition, for a moment raising the already high level of adrenaline. We gain money and experience much faster in the solo career or by socializing with other game users through multiplayer fun, in which new competitions appear. Among other things, escaping through a restricted area from infected cars or chasing the king. The one who manages to carry the royal jewel for the longest time wins. To catch a delinquent, you simply have to ram it.

How does the damage model relate to this ramming? As with the rest of the series. We can damage the engine, but we will somehow get to the garage somehow. If not traditionally, it is due to fast travel, which, however, is not free during the first period of the game. We can forget about the body parts falling off. Scratches and dents are cosmetic and don't look very realistic . Sometimes the windshield or side window will break, but it's also not a big deal. By selecting the simulation mode, we are informed about the possibility of destroying the tires, but for several hours of the game, nothing like that happened to me.

Visually, Forza Horizon 2 is stunning . The car models have been prepared with great care and each of them has a nicely modeled cockpit. The views are equally impressive. The full day or plastic sunsets look great and also at night (there is a daily cycle in the game) there is something to look at. While playing, we can also observe dynamic weather effects from time to time. When it rains, the streets become wet, treacherously slippery, but at the same time the surroundings are beautifully reflected in the puddles. In a word, the virtual world looks stunning.

Things are a bit worse when we stop and start looking for flaws on the TV. Then some of the engine's technological limitations come to light. On the downside, unfortunately, all vinyl decorating our bodies should be noted here. It is in a clearly lower resolution, which means that the close-ups in these places show nasty pixels.