March 21, 2019 at 3:45 AM #1311
Forza Horizon 2
Rating: 4.0 – Great
So close to being the ultimate open world racing game
Forza Horizon 2 is an example of a new trend that seems to be the hot topic in the racing genre today, and that is open world racing. Popularized by Burnout Paradise last generation, the idea of having a fully open world to explore and compete in various racing events along the way is a novel one, which gives significant "umph!" to a genre that many don’t even give a second thought to. Forza Horizon 2 is a great game that is held back by just a handful of flaws, but it’s still the best eighth generation racer to date across any of the platforms.
Forza Horizon 2 embraces the open world nature right off the bat. Players are asked to pick one of three cars, as if they were picking a starter Pokemon, and then after that, a massive collection of hundreds of cars will be obtained through a variety of means. There is a "story" of sorts for the first 15 championships, but in reality, players can ignore the championships and just do whatever they want.
In actuality, the championships are where the game starts to suffer, and that is due to a lack of event variety, as well as a lack of track variety. The game has you revisit various locations with a different car class countless times, which results in you going through the same tracks repeatedly, though the type of event might be somewhat different.
Almost all of the race types are more or less exactly the same, with such minor differences in all actuality, they might as well all be the same. There are "offroad" races and circuit races and sprints, but in an open world racer, all of the races have elements of offroad racing, and so they all feel like offroad racers anyway.
The championships tend to get old after about seven or so, but there is a staggering 168 championships to collect in total throughout the whole game. The monotony of the championships is broken up by little mini-objectives that pop up during the first 15 championships that help you get acquainted to the various other gameplay features that can be found in Forza Horizon 2.
The "plot", and I use quotations because the plot is hardly there at all, centers around a summer car festival that the player is participating in. The host of the festival comes across as a total idiot and all the cut-scenes with him are just cringe-worthy. There is a chick that shows up to restore the old cars you find named Ashley, and she’s really the only other substantial character in the game.
More or less, it’s just an excuse for racing. However, I think that if developers are going to have any plot, they might as well try to make one that is of some significance or required a little bit of thought to create. It also doesn’t help that one of the two characters they made is an insufferable idiot.
I’m getting off track here, though. Forza Horizon 2 is absolutely stuffed with content. There’s plenty to do and see. There are side quests of sorts, hundreds of cars to collect, upgrades, leveling, skills to unlock, and just so much to do. To 100% this game would take well over 100 hours.
None of this would be anything if the racing wasn’t good, and I am happy to report that the racing in the game is absolutely phenomenal. The controls are tight, and each car feels distinct. The open world nature of the game makes just driving around an absolute delight as well. The game also benefits from highly destructible environments. Blasting through fences, telephone poles, grain fields, and everything else is just an awesome experience, boosted by the power of the Xbox One.
The game is beautiful, with almost zero pop-in issues, which is incredibly impressive for an open world game. The cars look fantastic. However, the graphics aren’t the only improvement fans can expect to the Forza Horizon franchise on Xbox One. The Drivatars from Forza Motorsport 5 return, and in fact Drivatars created in that game carry over to Forza Horizon 2.
Horizon 2’s online features are somewhat disappointing. I found online road trip sessions to be almost entirely dead, and online free roam is often annoying due to other people not being very courteous. In almost every online session I entered, I encountered people blaring music or just being annoying through their mics. The online "Arena" matches were very difficult to get into at all due to some wonky matchmaking, and I also ran into a few other server issues during my time with the game. There was a point where I was unable to download any new liveries for my cars due to server issues, but as the days have progressed, the online experience has continued to improve.
Another disappointing aspect of Forza Horizon 2 is the music. There’s just a handful of radio stations in the game, and you actually have to unlock some as well, which silly. The music was just annoying to me, so I turned off the radio stations all together and never looked back not long into the game. It’s much more pleasing to the ears to hear cars smash through wooden fences and cut through fields, rather than have weak radio station songs lopped on top of that as well.
Forza Horizon 2 is so close to being the ultimate open world racing game. As it stands, it is the absolute best racing game available on the eighth generation systems. The simple joy of plowing through fields of nearly 200 miles per hour while the game runs like butter the whole time is a next-generation visual treat. Xbox One owners should definitely pick this up, racing fans especially.
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