So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Forza Horizon 2 (Xbox One)
Street racing series introduces high speed to the Mediterranean.
- Interesting new setting, larger than before.
- Lots of cars and races to choose from.
- Online AI driver functionality remains forgettable
- Numerous functions limited to online
Forza Horizon 2 improves its predecessor to be the next best racing game on Xbox One since Forza Motorsport 5.
Price$ 89.00 (AUD)
The original Forza Horizon was a surprise hit when it came out in 2012. Using the racing mechanics of Forza Motorsport as a foundation, Horizon moved the racing from the race track to the streets for an experience akin to Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed series. Horizon has now returned with a sequel intent on proving that its success was no fluke.
A test of skill
The setting of Horizon 2 has moved from America’s mid-west to the Mediterranean coastline. The game world is significantly larger than in the original Horizon, and the new setting affords more variety in the surroundings. It is not a completely accurate representation of the region it is based on, though it means the locations are more accessible than they would be in real life.
Spread out through the game world are more than 700 events. Horizon 2 is also more flexible in how it lets you navigate a course, so you do not have to stick to the roads if you feel there is a better shortcut. You now have the freedom to crash through fences or vegetation and go on a cross-country trip if you think it will save you some time.
The main purpose of the game is to take part in races and win, in order to move on to more challenging yet rewarding races. There is a secondary objective where you are rewarded with skill points depending on how well you drive. These points are used to acquire in-game perks, such as making certain cars more affordable.
Cars for everyone
Horizon 2 comes with more cars than before, with a line-up of more than 200 vehicles to choose from. The car selection spans high performance coupes to exotic sports cars, though there are also everyday cars and SUVs in the mix. Forza 5 was one of the more visually impressive games on Xbox One when it first came out, and Horizon 2 does a good job of maintaining this visual fidelity.
While a lot of the racing action takes place during the day, the game really comes to life at night. Lights sources are rendered in real-time, so the illumination moves and bends in a realistic manner, and the long draw distance means far-off objects are also visible. The rain and water effects are also impressive, and the game maintains a solid framerate throughout.
Weaker aspects of Forza 5 were the modest scale of the game and the microtransactions required to bolster the experience. Horizon 2 fortunately overcomes these shortcomings, though it does bring over the online AI driver functionality from Forza 5. This feature was not that compelling the first time around, particularly if you mostly play the game off-line, and it remains uninteresting now.
A new challenge
Horizon 2 comes a good time when Xbox One owners are ready to move on from Forza 5 to a new challenge. The open world street racing that made Forza Horizon is intact in the sequel, and the game benefits from a new coat of paint thanks to the Xbox One hardware. There is a lot of content aimed at online players, though there is more than enough for single players looking for high speed thrills.
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