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Forza Horizon 2 [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Horizon 2 feels like the core concept for the design team was two fold: Freedom and Fun. The game allows you wishfulfillment in the form of not only a cross-continental road trip with the breath-taking beauty of Europe but a phenominal level of car customization to make exactly the kind of ride you've only ever dreamed of (unless you're super rich).

The Pros: 

+In Depth Car Customization
+Wide Open Road and Exploration
+Beautiful Scenary to Drive Through
+An Impressive and Ever-Expanding Car List

The Cons: 

-There Could Be More Options for Upgrades
-The Road Trip Story Line Progresses Too Quickly (if you stick with one car class)

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

Ever since I was a child I was influenced by my father's extensive love and knowledge of automobiles. It shaped how I viewed transportation as a whole, and for decades since has been the root of my fascination with classic cars. It’s a hobby that I would absolutely love to have as my own, but as a mere writer there’s no way I’ll be able to collect like the comedians with millions in the bank to fuel their passion for automotives and its sports.

Thankfully as gamers, we’re not wanton for venues of wish-fulfillment.

My passion for the racing genre started with the release of Gran Turismo on the Playstation and has continued on through many incarnations since.

I feel like I could chronicle the entire shift in the game atmosphere (as it occurred for me personally) with the racing genre, but instead for now let’s jump to the reason that I’m writing this article: The Forza franchise in has, for the last several years, become an increasingly amazing venue for my automotive fantasies.

It started with getting the feel right, and blossomed as the car list grew over every iteration of the game, then was finally solidified as my new “home” for racing when Jeremy Clarkson (of Top Gear fame) was brought in to do monologues about the cars in the game’s automotive display section of the game.

After a while though, even that can get stale… and as if by psychic link between the license owners and I they branched off into a new open-world concept with a slightly more arcade-y and fun edge to it than the OCD attention to detail of the core franchise: Forza Horizon.

Recently Turn 10 studios released its second outing in the subtitled Forza Horizon, and for the last couple of weeks I’ve been going back and re-fulfilling all of my life-long car fantasies, while testing out some new ones.

You see not only does Forza Horizon do a great job of giving you the option to travel across the European Country side on an automotive road-show/party/road trip, but it brings in a level of customization to the game that makes for some really interesting options in your car-building experience.

It’s safe to say that Forza Horizon has locked down the feel of the cross-continental road-trip. It’s a beautiful experience to climb behind the wheel of your dream car and set out across the country side, traveling from venue to venue and sight-seeing some of Europe’s most notable points of interest.

What I want to talk about primarily though (seeing as the original Forza did this as well, and was talked about in my previous review ad nauseam) is the customization options that are offered to gamers in this fantasy race simulation that Turn 10 has provided.

Starting the game out I was offered a choice of cars to put me on my way.

Fairly standard practice for a racing game like this, and doubly so by the fact that they are generally not your dream car, we need to work up to those.

I took the least of the evils presented to me at the time (in my personal opinion and preference for cars, plenty will disagree with me. I know): A BMW Z4.

For those familiar with cars, the Z-series from BMW is kind of like a classier and far more powerful version of the Miata… so I get why people (including myself for the most part) would pass that one by.

Having said that though, the car became a project car for me, I was curious to find out how far I could push this car that had been pushed on me via the tuning and customization options in-game.

Well, the car was upgraded, jumping ahead several levels in the game’s classification system (basically broken down into D, C, B, A, S1, S2 respectively depending on the overall strength of the car your driving/building). And to specify, this is nothing new for Forza Horizon. There has been the opportunity to manage the components in the car before, both in Forza itself and in Horizon as well.

However, the options that are presented this time around were far more interesting and in-depth. I found myself performing changes to the car ranging from engine swaps all the way down to the PSI in the rear and front tires individual… This lead the Z4 to become my fantasy for road-hugging.

She might not have been the fastest car in the game, and was eventually replaced so that I could play with Super Cars, but she lasted a lot longer than my first car is most other racing games… in large part thanks to the fact that I could tweak her in almost every imaginable way to make her unique and entirely mine.

My next experiment was DRASTICALLY less successful, but entirely as exciting for me.

As ostentatious as they are generally perceived, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Lamborghinis, you see. It’s not their design per se, though some do look like stealth jets and that does something for me, it’s more about their core concept for the car. They are wide, low to the ground and harnesses an epic fuckton of power. That’s right up my alley…

So I purchased a Diablo and set to work attempting to turn it into an absolute track monster… But along the way of switching out the standard engine for a beefy V10 and turbo, I forgot that the car eventually will need to make its way around corners.

Enter the second stage of fun, which some games will prevent you from having: Your imagination should not be stifled in a video game, more-so encouraged and nurtured. The Diablo I built wouldn’t be allowed to exist in the confines of most racing games, especially those with a simplified or “arcade” mentality behind it. However my bastardized interpretation of a Diablo came to life and I was giddy at the fact that it slammed directly into walls if I was doing anything above say 30km/h.

Forza Horizon, in its original concept, for me, was a beautiful combination of attention to detail and expansive inventory of cars that I’d come to expect from the sim-racing genre bred with the light-hearted fun of the old arcade classics like Rush.

Forza Horizon 2 takes that core concept and takes it to the next logical step.

We, of course, get a chance of venue and explore more open world in Forza Horizon 2, but along with the physical concept of freedom comes more exploration in terms of the fine-tuning of your car as well in a system that is easy to use and as in-depth as you like it to be.

Those not interested in micro-managing their tire pressure can simple select “automatic” settings for car improvement, judged by the game, but if you go “manual” you’ll see the game has this “secret” level of depth and appreciate for the automotive sport that lets you know its designers love riding around in these legendary wheels equally as much, if not more so, then the gamers they presented it to.