Developer: Turn 10 Studios/Playground Games
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Review Context: I’m a huge fan of the racing genre. Though I prefer arcade over simulation, the Project Gotham Racing series added a nice blend of both. When I learned that the studio behind the series went on to form Playground Games, I had to give their Forza series a try. It wasn’t until the fourth installment I gave it a chance.
Date of Playthrough: April 6, 2015
Movie tie-ins with videogames have become an interesting topic; movie companies feel they can make a quick buck off of fans of the movie, while the gaming companies have to rush development to release within the movie’s release date. Results are usually not that great, with a few exceptions (LEGO games, James Bond). It only made sense with the latest (should’ve been the last), Fast and Furious movie to give fans a chance to drive modified versions of vehicles we can only dream of, since we don’t have that type of bank account. Forza Horizon 2 was released first last year in late fall for Xbox One and Xbox 360, while the Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious edition (standalone) was released a month prior to the new movie. Will this standalone game let you ride like family, or will you want to crash and burn?
When I played Forza Horizon on the Xbox 360 I was impressed with how that late in the system’s life cycle that the game’s environment looked nice. With the sequel being on Xbox One, the visuals have really stepped up. Not to knock on the Xbox 360 version since I have played that to, but certain features (weather) is absent in that. While Forza Motorsport 5 runs at 60fps, this and Forza Horizon 2 still run at 30fps because of the open nature of the game.
The key feature of the visuals I noticed is they love to show off the vehicles after a rainstorm. You can see all the rain drops on every inch of the car’s body. The open environment of the European country feels authentic (coming from someone who used to live there). One moment you are in a small town, the next an open field with grass and hills as far as the eyes can see. I noticed little pop ups from a distance, but it’s nothing distracting. The weather effects are long overdue for this new franchise, with the slick roads affecting the handling, with dark clouds coming is realistic instead of just popping up. The day and night transition is done well; for example, when the suns sets your headlights come on, and your wipers come on during a rainstorm. What I am disappointed in is when you go to the first person view with you in the car you cannot see the full interior of the vehicle. Usually in racing games when you are in that view you can look left and right to see more of the interior. In this and Forza Horizon 2, when you look left and right it’ll be as if you’re looking outside a window.
It would help to have the ability to create a driver, as you will see the same driver in every car at the starting line. Some cars are bigger than others, making the default driver look like he needs a booster seat.
Car damage is back, so if you don’t want to see your dream ride with scratches, broken glass, and other imperfections, be sure not to hit walls or trees like a madman. With most of the races taking place off road, your vehicle will get covered in so much dirt you will wonder why the game doesn’t have a car wash option.
Controls remain fast and responsive to turns, but the difference has to come from the Xbox One controller. The controller has separate rumble feedback on the trigger buttons for different feedback. To me this makes the game more interactive. When you ‘over rev’ at the starting line, the right trigger will vibrate to let you know you are putting too much force on the gas. This little feature for me is a game changer, since it’ll help you out in making your corners better. The game does have a real manual feature; when you select manual transmission, you have a choice of adding clutch support for racing wheel accessories or controller. A first for the franchise though, since it’s a standalone it made sense to add a nitrous button to the game, though there are times when you forget to use it, but you will be reminded that nitrous is available.
I can say from playing and finishing the game that it gives you a taste of what to experience in Forza Horizon 2. Heck, after you beat the main game, you are treated to a two minute promo for the game. The game takes place after the events of Forza Horizon 2, with you being the Forza champ. You get called up by Tej Parker (Ludacris) to win races to earn some rides (cars). Once you unlock all ten cars, the main mode is done for you to replay if you feel like it.
The map you are given is half the size of the freeroam, but they still give you enough modes to keep you somewhat busy. You can do online freeroam, in which you connect with other players to set up matches. My experience only had me do race and team drag race. The Forza series is known for some fun online modes, but those were the only modes people were playing. To my surprise, is how seamless the transition is from online to offline mode. While you are driving around, you come across player’s drivatars (A.I copying that person’s driving style). If you challenge them to an open race you earn credits, which do nothing but grant you bragging rights in this standalone.
During the race when you pull off tricks, such as drifting, hitting things, dodge incoming traffic, you earn skill points and can chain link them into huge combos that were made famous with Project Gotham Racing. Sadly, they are just there for show, while Forza Horizon 2 has you using skill points to level up and earn perks.
Bucket list has you doing crazy tasks with a certain car, from doing crazy skill tricks, to maintaining a certain speed for an amount of time. Not all races are the same, as one will have you racing a helicopter in the rain at night. It didn’t take me long to complete all the features found in the game, but if you want a taste of what Forza Horizon 2 offers, this is the appetizer.
Audio in the game is superb, with real engine noises from different vehicles, to the sounds of going on and off road. I noticed little things like the sound of pebbles hitting the underside when you’re driving on dirt roads, and the sound of the wipers moving during a rainstorm. You are limited to one radio station, which is comprised of mostly hip hop, dubstep, and scores from the movie. Ludacris lends his voice, as he gives you the rundown of your progress. The game’s T rating lets some content slide for some of the song’s lyrics.
Similar Games Liked:
Forza Horizon (Xbox 360)
Test Drive Unlimited (PS3)
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (Xbox 360)
Similar Games Disliked:
Test Drive Unlimited 2 (PS3)
Modnation Racers (PS3)