Forza Horizon 2 preview: something for every driver
The opening titles to Forza Horizon 2 are a risky bet. They feel like a Nikon advert, with cool music running over cutscenes and the type of voiceover that uses the word living as if it has two separate meanings. It could so easily become conceited and dull, a desperate pull to people who said YOLO for far too long, but the developers make them work.
They work because they go with the rest of the game. The premise that you’re driving around the coastal roads of France and Italy in flash modern and classic cars doing the odd race or challenge, the new Bucket List feature – where celebrated cars are dotted around the map for you to take up different challenges with - you can imagine the whole thing being a music video.
Graphics buzzwords are banded around everywhere but with Forza you can see they’ve put it where it counts, the maps are recreations of real scenic roads around the Mediterranean, as the developers put it – “a lot of our work is done for us.”
These aren’t the only features the new game’s bringing along: the usual skill points adding to the cash and experience you gather while playing and the Horizon Wheel Spin – every time you level-up you get the chance to spin a wheel of prizes, usually you win extra cash to spend on upgrades and paint jobs but now and then the lucky ones get a new car.
They’re also getting into the latest thing, the world of mingleplayer. Little notifications tell you if your friends are online and what they’re up to and you can join them in races and challenges at the press of a button. The social aspects carry on with abilities to make clubs of up to a thousand players within the game and drive into car meets to show others online what you’ve done with your winnings.
The game manages a good mix between fun for the casual gamer while still having a large amount there for those who want to customize their cars as much as possible – from big changes (luminous green paint job and zebra stripe tires for me) to tiny tuning tweaks for those who know what the jargon actually means.
In the end, there are bits of the game that stand out for anyone. If you want to drive dangerously along barriered sea-view roads (and who doesn’t) then go ahead, if you want to amble along between races then enjoy the towns on offer you can, and if you want to race through fields, dodging trees, then there are challenges waiting for you.
The game’s end product means that when you start your first Bucket List Challenge and the floating writing comes up, in that Scott Pilgrim way, saying your challenge is to ‘Drive a koenigsegg like you stole it’, you don’t feel like it was made by idiots in ironic varsity jackets. Just people who were trying to leave you with a certain feeling while playing - a carefree feeling that really comes across.
Forza Horizon 2 is released on 30 September 2014
Independent News Service