We put Playground Games and Microsoft's sequel to the critically acclaimed Forza Horzion though it's paces, and it's only bloody gorgeous.
Forza Horizon 2 is an open-world racing game based around a music and racing festival at the border of Southern France and Northern Italy. While Forza Motorsport games are known for their simulation racing style, Forza Horizon 2 offers a less demanding experience and blends the sim and arcade aspects of racing games together in perfect harmony to produce an exotic racing game that, above all else, is just really fun to play.
Right from the start, Forza Horizon 2 sets its stall out in terms of stunning presentation. The intro sequence shown to all gamers before they get behind the wheel of a Lamborghini Huracán is absolutely stunning, which you can see for yourself:
Once that is over and done with, it's time to hit the road.
Forza Horizon set new standards for open-world racing games back in 2012, and Forza Horizon 2 has once again raised the bar. The use of "Drivatar" artificial intelligence is back after it made its début in Forza Motorsport 5 on Xbox One, and it uses the cloud to collect data of other human drivers from within the Forza community, and your Xbox friends list and puts their tendencies into the CPU controlled cars you are racing against to provide a more human experience. While it doesn't quite cause the chaos that online racing brings, there are still some crazy moments that make it seem like there are other players on the grid.
The racing is typically smooth, as we have come to expect from Forza games, and the difficulty and damage can be adjusted to suit how you want to play the game.
There is so much to do in Forza Horizon 2. The map is approximately three times the size of its predecessor with numerous different areas to race in such as Nice and Montellino, each with their own unique style and features. On top of the larger scale, there are around 700 activities to participate in, so those who love depth in their racing games need look no further. From circuit races, point-to-point races, and all new cross-country races, along with speed cameras and barn finds, and the brand new "bucket list", there is always something to do in Forza Horizon 2.
Graphically, the game is absolutely stunning. Over 200 cars are available in game, and each and every one is recreated with immaculate precision. Any Top Gear fan would fall in love with the selection of cars, but it is the surrounding world that steals the show in Forza Horizon 2, as the vistas and viewpoints of the festival area are jaw-dropping, that is if you can manage to hit the break pedal and take them in. Also stunning is the weather effects in game, and the first time you see the dynamic change from sunshine to rain in the middle of a race is one of the moments that really make you feel like you are experiencing the power of the Xbox One.
The online gameplay is everything you would expect. Car clubs, race meets, and standard traditional online racing are enough to keep the most competitive racers happy in the long-run, or if you are new to online racing there are parameters which can be put in place to make it enjoyable for you. The car customisation, a trademark of the Forza series, is back and as crazy as ever, as gamers can download thousands of user generated designs for their car should they want to make a statement.
In conclusion, Forza Horizon 2 is fantastic. Right from opening cut-scene you are sucked into the story, and the first time you are given control of a car you feel immersed in the Horizon universe. The stunning graphics and incredible selection of cars keep you coming back for more as you progress through the story, and even after you complete the Horizon festival finale there is plenty left to see and do in the game. Online is accessable to everyone from new racers to veterans of the Forza games, and the blend of simulation and arcade game styles make it an incredibly fun experience no matter your skill level. Did we mention that it is absolutely gorgeous? I think we did, but anyway, this game is gorgeous.