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Games : Highly Recommended
Ranking:
Sale Price: $15.04 Last Price: $59.99 Buy now! 3rd Party 79.99 In Stock
Release Date: September 30th, 2014 Movie Release Year: 2014

Forza Horizon 2

Overview -

Online free roam racing games aren't a new concept, and in fact, as the '2' denotes in 'Forza Horizon 2,' this isn't even the first attempt to marry the 'Forza Motorsport' license with a free roam title. Even so, while the first 'Forza Horizon' was a late-generation 360 title, 'Forza Horizon 2' is a flagship Xbox One title. This time out, Microsoft has made some big promises on behalf of developer Playground Games. Not only does the game promise the benefit of a shared tech with Turn 10's class-leading 'Forza 5,' 'Forza Horizon 2' also boasts of major features like off road freedom, dynamic weather, and night/day cycle, and a near seamless online experience. The racing festival has moved to a European setting, but can it live up to the weight of the 'Forza' franchise while still breaking new ground?

OVERALL:
Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
VIDEO
AUDIO
Tech Specs & Release Details
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p
Audio Formats:
7.1LPCM
Release Date:
September 30th, 2014

Video Review

Ranking:

Visually, the game is a showcase. While the game does commit the cardinal sin of having the player hunt around all the ugly spots for hidden barn finds, including some rough spots in the terrain models, trees, and boxy buildings, the cars and the landscapes are delivered in HD splendor. The games easily looks as good as advertised, and the Photo Mode means plenty of opportunity to drool over these cars.

This beauty can get rainy, and when the sun goes down, well, the stars do come out. This weather and day/night cycle is past due for the series. Still, it adds that dab of flavor and helps to keep things fresh.

Compared with the cars, the NPCs aren't great looking, especially if looking at the crowds up close. The dynamic cutscenes have some wooden looking animations, but in such cases, it's very easy to focus on the cars.

The UI is a winner, and takes the floating text to an expertly integrated extreme.

Performance Notes

I did see a few bad hitches and had the game crash and restart a few times, though that may have been affected by ongoing development tweaks. These issues popped up at around once every 6-10 hours, and the game handled high speeds and crazy stunts better than I normally expect from a 'Forza' title.

Audio Review

Ranking:

The game's audio is a huge asset, and I'm sure that's thanks in large part to 'Turn 10's audio library. The near miss of a car, a red-lining engine, the thunder of the finish line- all of it is like finely wrought candy for the home theater. There is one effect in the game, which I believe is meant to be fireworks in Nice, but sounds instead like bad static, and it would be great if they would just patch it right out.

There is a large quotient of voice acting, which comes from the festival NPCs, the radio DJs, and even the navigation system. It can get hammy or even just a little cloying. (Do I really need the guy to say that I'm making a habit of winning after every other race?)

The game's radio stations are pleasant enough with classical music towering over the mostly synthetic collection of tracks. There is one huge issue that I'm dinging the score for which I hope is fixed soon. The game, like any racing game, desperately needs custom music, and I pray that Microsoft continues their Media Player efforts to the point that MP3s can be used just as they were on the 360.

Final Thoughts

I used to have 'Forza 5' as must-own demo material, though I knew most would not be able to really enjoy the game. 'Forza Horizon 2' is so much more that; it's excellent demo material, it's accessible to play, exhilaratingly fast, but manages to avoid being repetitive. Seeing one of my friend's Drivatars cruising around the European countryside often feels like being issued a challenge, and the ensuing race manages to avoid the grind feeling that plagues most racing games. Get in an Ariel Atom, or an F40, or even a Ford Transit and try not to have fun racing from coast to coast, I dare you.