What can I say, but driving games on any platform are made for niche target audience. You either love them, or hate them. In any case, they are fairly popular with a lot of gamers. I’m fond of most racing games, but not so much that I will be clamoring to get the latest racing game as soon as it is released. Having played a few different racing games, I decided to make my 2nd review in my weekly review series on Forza Horizons 2 for the Xbox 360.
Forza Horizons 2 is an interesting beast of a game. It tries to be more of an open world driving sim, but also has the standard race types. Let me explain with a bit of the components that make up Forza Horizons 2. Forza takes place in France. There is a huge festival called the ‘Horizons Festival’ which is why you are there. It seems like a mix of a racing festival and a music festival. There is lots to do in the game, with each small city having certain championships that you need to finish with a medal position in order to move on. Medal positions are 1st, 2nd or 3rd place, anything else and you don’t get credit for completing the race. While this seems all to familiar from pretty much every racing game ever made, there are a few differences. Forza is known for its cars, or more to the point, the amount of cars, that you can drive. Forza has always boasted that they have the largest variety of cars available, and Horizons 2 doesn’t shy away from that. I think the highlight of my gaming with Horizons 2 was when I was able to purchase the virtual version of my real life car, with a bit of an upgrade. This car was a 2013 Ford Focus ST, painted ruby red (I drive the SE version in reality). This was one thing I really enjoyed about the game.
Now having pimped out the virtual version of my real life car, I had been driving a lot of races, having completed 3 city events already. Upon completion of each city, you get to experience more of the openness of the game by driving to your next city. It does have a little bit of extra fun driving freely to the next area of races, and I enjoyed it a lot, but there is more to this game than running races and freely exploring the areas between cities.
Hidden around the entire map are what the call ‘Barn Finds’, which are hidden cars in well … barns. You can be driving around and stumble upon them, or their location is hinted at to you randomly after completing certain areas of the game. These cars are usually unique, and almost always some sort or rare model. Once they are found they get restored after a certain amount of in game time has passed and then you can drive them if you wish. At the time of this writing I’ve only managed to find 2 barn finds, which is a good start I think.
So we have general racing, open world exploration, a massive variety of cars and barn finds, what else could there be? Well in face there is a bucket list. The bucket list is a smattering of interesting challenges that you can do at your own leisure. Usually these challenges are tough enough to pose a good challenge, but are also not impossible either. These are scattered around the map and even have their own car to be used in them. One such example would be to take a Lamborghini to a certain point on the map and race through a speed trap going as fast as you can. It doesn’t sound hard except the speed trap is on a dirt road, which makes traction a problem.
Because Forza Horizons 2 was released on the Xbox 360, the controls are fairly simple with the use of the Xbox controller. The left thumb-stick is for steering, the right is for camera I think, and I never really used it. Then you got both triggers, left for brake/reverse and the right for accelerator. The A button is for the e-brake and the only other button I used was X which activated any races I approached. I’m sure as you unlock upgrades such as NOS one of the other buttons would be mapped to that, but I never progressed to that point in the game.
The cars seemed to handle well, but were always a bit too drifty for my taste, and I found myself getting frustrated with sliding all over the place, especially on dirt or gravel. I figured out how to fix this issue though by enabling a harder steering setting called ‘Simulation’ which is designed more for people who will be playing with a steering wheel controller. Once using this setting everything seemed to work a lot better, and I’ve not had much issue placing at least 3rd in mostly every race.
The graphics for Forza Horizons 2 are decent being on the last generation console. I did find that the cars all looked a little too shiny, but it wasn’t anything major and didn’t detract from the game. All the other graphics were good, and nothing really jumped out as being too awful or too over the top.
Overall, while Forza Horizons 2 was enjoyable, it isn’t a game I would be sitting and playing for more than an hour at a time, as I felt myself getting a little bored of doing the same thing over and over all the time. It is enjoyable in short spurts of play. This game would be a lot of fun as a multiplayer game, racing together when they come over, but alas the only multiplayer mode is online only, which means you’d both have to own the game to play.