Forza Horizon 2: The ‘fun’ Forza is fast, fresh in France

October 8, 2014


As with the previous game, Forza Horizon 2 takes the driving from Forza Motorsport and brings it to a more open, laid-back setting. The sequel leaves the original’s Colorado-based setting in favor of the surroundings of southern France, but the Horizon Festival remains, bringing with it the race events and championships for which it’s known. New locale aside, Horizon 2 once again centers around its open-world driving, both separating it from the Motorsport series and appealing to fans of games like Burnout Paradise.

Driving in Forza Horizon 2 is definitely the game’s selling point. Cars still feel like they did in Motorsport, though the handling has been changed quite a bit to allow for off-road driving. Zipping through a field without getting stuck in the mud isn’t generally something you can do with a performance sports car, and Horizon 2 takes some liberty with handling in order to make an more enjoyable experience without having to constantly change vehicles based on terrain. The game’s easy setting makes it easy to win races, though as with Forza 5, using assists and rewind will reduce your reward. This is a welcome change, as unlike Forza 5‘s simulation-style racing, the game is more about mastering terrain than fighting with your own car. That said, you can still play the game with assists off and tune your cars manually if you want.


The cars and environments look great, as expected at this point from a Forza title. Of course, it helps that many cars were already modeled for Xbox One in Forza 5, and of course the previous Forza games on Xbox 360. Driving around southern France is nice, though I found the open world to be fairly boring. There aren’t all that many places to explore, and it didn’t feel like an accurate depiction of a real world locale; it may have been better to make up locations instead of using real-world ones, if the team isn’t going to go all the way and create the area as it exists in the real world. Towns are rather condensed, but there remains a large amount of open space between them to allow for some great off-road driving. Sadly, aside from finding some XP and fast-travel boards to drive into, there isn’t much to do besides admire the scenery.

Horizon 2‘s protagonist is just a seemingly emotionless drone. You don’t show any feeling that someone who just won a race or championship would, and there’s no real plot explaining why you’re racing at Horizon other than the money and bragging rights that come with victory. Your character makes so few appearances that this isn’t all that big of a deal, though a few choices might’ve been nice, as there’s just enough there to make you feel the void where a real person should have been.

The game’s announcer is British, but acts as American as they come. This kind of ruined the European setting for me, even if he is just guiding you from one town to the next. I find myself wishing the developers had gone after the Top Gear brand again, because I think it could have a lot more fun with that partnership in Horizon. The show’s best parts are the rather silly events they do, and Horizon 2 would have allowed them to bring some of that into the game. I’d also prefer a few more European cars given the setting, though some of that’s up to personal preference.


As with the first game, Horizon 2 takes the series in a more relaxed direction. Forza Motorsport 5 is one of the best track racing games out there, but it felt like it was really built for racing fans, or more specifically car fans, as opposed to people looking for a great driving game. Horizon 2 makes the game a lot more fun for people less interested in perfectly recreated tracks. Drivatars do make a return; instead of generic AI drivers, populating the grid with your friends list is a nice touch, as it feels nice to beat your friends for bragging rights even if they are computer-controlled.

Forza Horizon 2 is a great racing game for the people who aren’t into the realism present in Forza Motorsport 5, but the best part of all is likely just driving as fast as you can off-road. It’s just a shame there isn’t more to do out there.

Pros: Driving across country is fun, racing is less punishing for less seasoned players
Cons: Open world could use more variety, not all that much to find while exploring

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.