Forza Horizon 2 Review: A Trip of a Lifetime

Posted October 22, 2014 by Andrew Finch in Video Games

Forza Horizon 2

Developer: Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Release Date: 09-30-14

Available on: Xbox One (version reviewed), Xbox 360



Over the years there have been many racing games that could be considered great. How many of those would be considered something truly special though? That feat is something that Forza Horzion 2 reaches with its great driving mechanics, stunning visuals, immense amount of content, and overall enjoyable experience.

From the opening drive in the exotic Lamborghini Huracan through the hours that it will take you to become the Horizon champion this game never stops impressing. Horizon 2 offers a more exotic and luxurious location than its predecessor featuring a road-trip across the Southern European coast. Horizon 2 showcases breathtaking vistas, gorgeous lighting effects, and for the first time in the series a dynamic weather system that allows for some of the most impressive shots yet seen this generation. The developers truly triumphed at realizing an incredible open-world while running at 1080p and a rock solid 30 fps.


Horizon 2 touts a photo mode that allows users to capture all of the beauty the game has to offer

With the festival in the background this off-road race rages on.

With the festival in the background this off-road race rages on.


A racing game can not get by on visuals alone and thankfully Horizon 2 has some of the most enjoyable driving I’ve every experienced. From the off-road power of my Ford F-150 Raptor to the silky smooth handling of the Ferrari 360 Stradale each vehicle feels distinct and varied. Though not every car will be as exciting to drive as others there are over 200 different to choose from ensuring that there will always be something for everyone. Something that the Forza series has always done well is a great suite of options when it comes to how realistic (or difficult) you want the game to be. Horizon 2 finds a perfect balance allowing anyone to jump right in and be able to speed around the open world with ease. If you want a more realistic driving experience you can turn off many of the assists that have become staples in Forza games turning off things such as braking assists and the guide line. A benefit of turning off some of these assists is a higher credit multiplier for completing races and challenges.

Horizon feels like a mixture of the old Project Gotham Racing series and what Test Drive attempted to create with it’s unlimited series while still remaining true to their own Forza roots. Do you enjoy drifting? Like to emphasize clean racing? Or would you rather to drive through some poor soul’s vineyard and stop to do some donuts? All of these will earn skill points constantly earning you experience and keeping you always looking to maintain your streak.

The team at Turn-10 Studios and Playground Games have really nailed the sound of each car as well. From the American muscle cars that roar and rumble to the exotic hyper cars that unleash the aggressive hum that only they can. All the different sound effects marry perfectly to Horizon 2’s outstanding soundtrack which goes with the festival theme and offers techno and dubstep radio stations while also offering other choices such as a classical music station which makes tearing through a vineyard at high speed that much more enjoyable.


The Horizon Festival at night is a truly lovely sight

Looks like i'm late to the party

Looks like i’m late to the party


The best way to truly experience all of what Horizon 2 has to offer is online. Being able to take on one of the immense amount of races, challenges, or speed traps with friends is a blast. The online play allows you and your friends to take this European road trip together and really is where the game shines. There are car clubs with up to 1000 members that players can join to work together to take on challenges, rank up their club, as well as show off their own custom liveries they have created. It’s also very satisfying to narrowly beat a friends best time with a new car and see your name tops theirs on the leaderboards.


Enjoying the night ride in a Dodge Viper

Tearing down a dirt road while the party continues behind me.

Tearing down a dirt road leaving the city lights behind.


It takes roughly 12-15 hours to complete the 15 championships on your way to becoming Horizon champion the game does a great job of constantly upgrading you on the way. The game features a perk system that features things such as discounts on cars bought at the autoshow, increasing the duration of your skill chain, or fast traveling to any location on the map. With each new level you also earn a wheel spin which acts as a slot machine of sorts that gives either a credit payout or possible a free car. These upgrades and payouts seem simple but they provide a sense of gratification and progression not typically found in racing games.

Barn finds make a return in Horizon 2 which have you search a specific area of the map to for an old abandoned barn with a vehicle in need of repair inside. Vehicles range from a Ferrari GTO to an old school Army Jeep. I have never been a huge fan of this aspect of the game personally due to the fact that you have to wait for the area to be shown to you before you can find the car even if you stumble across it yourself while free-roaming.


Drifting through the streets of Castelletto

Spectators look on as this races nears a close finish

Spectators look on as this races nears a close finish

Forza Horizon 2 sets the bar incredibly high for racing games this generation, and provides the Xbox One its first can’t miss title. With hundreds of cars, loads of customization, rock solid mechanics, gorgeous graphics, and addicting online play this is a special game that will take Xbox players on a trip they will never forget.


*Reviewer’s Note:  The Xbox 360 version of  Forza Horzion 2 was developed by Sumo Digital and is not represented in this review. All images are my own taken with the in-game photo mode and uploaded from the Forza Hub.


About the Author

Andrew Finch

Andrew is a 25 year old guy from New Orleans, Louisiana. He loves RPGs, first-person shooters, and action-adventure games. He is also an avid New Orleans Saints and Pelicans fan. Follow him on twitter at @Andrew_Finch