Forza Horizon 2 Review

Xbox One Reviews

forza horizon 2

Playground Games blockbuster franchise returns for a next-gen outing on Xbox One with Forza Horizon 2. Take a glamorous road trip across the glorious European scenic setting for the racing festival event of the year as you head from southern France to northern Italy leaving behind all your worries for a competitive beautiful ride across some breath-taking terrains.

The original Xbox 360 Forza Horizon was a surprise hit when it first launched in 2012 and we scored it rather favourable noticing a less serious take on Turn 10’s more realistic racing series being Forza. Within Forza Horizon 2, the fun continues offering a vast range of competitive events both online and offline in the biggest open world racer yet for Xbox One with a choice of around 200 vehicles to race! Maintaining the high standards of a first class racing game; and for those gamers who may never of experienced the joys of its predecessor, this time around everything within the world of Forza Horizon 2 is highly polished, fine-tuned and raring to be enjoyed with a more socially integrated experience courtesy of the Forza Hub (available as an App download and jam packed with rewards). Extremely detailed and bursting with Mediterranean atmosphere, you’re not only in awe of the environments whilst playing, but you’re fast drawn in to ambiance and electricity of the festival events – you’re definitely playing to win as Forza Horizon 2 encourages cutthroat competitions between your Xbox Live Friends.

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When playing in Solo Mode, your primary goal is to obtain as much CR Rewards as you can by winning races to progress further within the Festival events. A combination of CR and XP rewards score will also contribute to you levelling up, and to assist with even more score improvements you need to think about unlocking Skills. Levelling up grants you additional unlocks and bonus CR rewards, but Skills are actioned by completing certain events within a race that including wrecking, drafting, drifting, near misses and the more you complete you will later be able to use these Skill Points on in-game Perks. Perks are boosting bonuses that once unlocked grant you a vast range of additional benefits from having more credits unlocked than normal, winning better prizes, increased scores when playing and even discounts on Upgrade Parts for your vehicle. So, as you can see it’s not simply just about entering a race or challenge, but evolving and upgrading through-out your journey within the Festival  with an aim to become a racing Champion. To get anywhere even close to unlocking the main Horizon Finale, you have to participate and win 15 Championship events…TWICE!

Being an open world racing game sets the challenge of mass exploration as you have an aim to explore as many or all of the open roads as possible. Using the World Map available at the touch of a button you can view a birds-eye view of Southern France and Italy as alternative you may set way points to explore Nice, Saint-Martin, Castelletto, Montellino and many more cities each with their own Street Races, Challenges, and unique events to take on as you drive through. You may also explore an Online Road Trip within each location that focusses on racing from city to city with a group of Friends online or a group of random folk for the fun of it. The great difference between Forza Horizon and other ‘serious’ racers is that within Horizon you are never limited to just the roads because short cuts can be explored by taking off-road routes through valleys, fields and wherever you fancy even if you end up in wreck and ruin! Easily comparable to Test Drive Unlimited, Forza Horizon 2 is a massive living open world with full day and night cycles and varying weather effects that challenge your skills as take on each city and their surprises.

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The previous Forza Horizon had everything central around one Horizon Festival HUB, but this has completely changed within the sequel because each section is now about a series of Road Trips within each city. In short it’s a journey of exploration and challenges where friends become Rivals and Rivals can become enemies if you’re easily irritated by others beating you. The benefits of Xbox One and its cloud powered features can make Forza Horizon 2 appear real time as your friends Drivatars are heavily present; this allows you to race your friends even if they aren’t online because their digital presence lives on and often joins you in your own events. For gamer’s with Forza 5 you may be familiar with the Drivatars functions already, but if you’re new to this – then Forza Horizon 2’s Drivatar offerings is a system that constantly analyses your gameplay, reactions and skills to replicate how you would or could respond in real time if you were online at the time your friend is racing against you. It’s very clever tech, but naturally changes if you advance and improve your racing skills to keep inline with your predicted efforts.

Adding more social awareness within the game is a Car Meet Up; this is where you get the opportunity to show off your precious vehicle and any fancy designs you’ve crafted for it and show it off to other players online. Car Meets allow you to intermingle with other players and set challenges to each other – and maybe you’ll even grab yourself some new friends in the process. The sharing and social aspect of Forza Horizon 2 can be entertaining as you seamlessly are able to switch between offline and online modes. The ability to don your best created decals, logo’s, and vinyl’s with a paint job of many colours returns, and is still one of the best ever tools to pimp out your automobile in some fancy artwork. Forza is renowned for its customisation options and storefront for designing your cars to suit you and depending upon the time and your artistic flair – it might end up an in-game masterpiece that could rise in popularity as players can download and hit a LIKE on other player’s designs.

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Naturally, as a game about cars, you are getting an impressive number to choose from that are available to you after completing events and earning as much CR Rewards as humanly possible. There are more than 200 of the world’s greatest cars to drive from extreme off-roaders to modern supercars, classic muscle and more recreated in obsessive detail, with full cockpit views, including functional windshield wipers, working headlights, and authentic interiors exactly as stated and advertised by Playground Games and Turn 10 Studio’s so although every track will look the same, your experience of the race varies by car and even by how you tune it. The driving physics appear perfected on any mode other than easy difficulty which is a somewhat less than challenging setting to ideally avoid. To experience the true nature of a good race rack up the difficulty and enjoy all the offerings of a steep learning curve that will give you a better sense of satisfaction with every race. At the end of each event you will be given the choice to race your Rival (a person to beat as selected by the power of the cloud) and race them head to head again in the selected track to earn rewards and be forever revelling in glory that you beat the bastard! Assuming you win of course, but if you do not then just naturally try again – and again! Even when exploring the open world cities you can challenge a Drivatar just by getting up close and hitting the X button at your own peril.

Forza Horizon 2 is a beautiful and stunning racing game with a high element of fun and challenging tracks that you can enjoy in offline solo mode or online with friends. It doesn’t offer the same level of progression as found in the serious racers available, but this title is all about open world exploration and casual competitive racing events to keep you occupied for an eternity. It is a natural next-gen successor to the original Forza Horizon with improved and larger environments, a better structure to the Festival events and a more socially integrated experience when challenging your friends on Xbox Live. The racing game of the year you simply must own!

Thank you to Xbox for providing the review code to thisisxbox.com

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Founder of ThisisXbox.com (owner from 2010 - 2014), now writer and reviewer with an interest in writing thriller fiction. Two addictions; Diet Coke and Call of Duty. All views expressed everywhere are my own and not that of my employer!
  • joey

    Best racer I’ve played in a long time. Probably the 2nd or 3rd best of all time. Its right up their with burn out and gt2. Racing was always one of my favorite genres as a kid. forza h2 brings that feeling back. The regular forza series are great for what they are but horizons open world and social aspect along with it being less SIM is the perfect balance. This game is amazing.

  • too true, it’s just outstanding!!