Some might say that those who develop games to a specific established audience have it easy, not needing to worry about attracting the masses. That comes with some drawbacks, of course, and Forza Motorsport 5 showed them all quite clearly. The series’ leap to Xbox One was far from perfect, and the players noted nearly every single flaw and poor decision. Not the best predecessor for Playground Games’ Forza Horizon 2.
With fans left feeling disappointed to be without an acclaimed next-gen exclusive racer, Horizon 2 seemed an unlikely candidate for setting all those concerns to ease. But as we explained in our review, the blend of open world arcade action and well-refined track physics seems poised to keep fans of both series happy.
And now that more reviews have arrived ahead of the game’s launch (primarily focused on the Xbox One release, not the Xbox 360 version which the developers claim is “a different game”), it seems most reviewers are in agreement. Whether a seasoned veteran of the core Forza series or a newcomer who found Horizon a surprise, Horizon 2 is a clear hit in a console generation still looking for more.
OXM (Paul Taylor):
“A triumph in so many respects that lets itself down with some technical issues and a world that needed more variety in the way it looks. That, however, shouldn’t stop you from picking this up and loving it until the end of this console generation. Forza Horizon 2 is an accomplishment, and a showcase for what open-world racers can do.”
IGN (Luke Reilly):
“The first Forza Horizon set a new standard for open-world racing games, and Forza Horizon 2 has comprehensively updated that standard. The location is right, the car list extensive, the handling nuanced but accessible, and the visuals are excellent.”
Polygon (Arthur Gies):
“The excellent foundation below Forza Horizon 2‘s open world and the experimentation that it occasionally encourages at least provide a reason to race there. But that same open world serves as a less well-executed space to race and drive than the tracks that have defined previous games, and the open-world activities can’t quite make up the difference.”
Eurogamer (Oli Welsh):
“Forza Horizon fans might find it all pretty familiar, but then Forza Horizon fans are hardly likely to mind that. Newcomers, meanwhile, will be blown away by a supposedly serious racing game that dares to be this romantic and thrilling.”
EGM (Ray Carsillo):
“Gutting the story—and taking away one of the key pillars that made the first Forza Horizon so special—to blur the line between single- and multiplayer left a sour taste in my mouth. If all you care about is getting behind the wheel and scenic European vistas, though, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better experience.”
Shacknews (Daniel Perez):
“Forza Horizon set out to give racing fans the opportunity to enjoy the Forza series in an open-world environment, and with the addition of a vast and beautiful locale, multiplayer options, both online and in single-player mode, and all of its activities, Forza Horizon 2 is yet another sequel that vastly improves on its original.”
Games Radar (David Roberts):
“Apparently, Motorsport convinced Horizon to share some of its drugs, and the two have joined forces to give us Forza Horizon 2: a sprawling open-world racer that can be as arcadey or as sim-y as you want it to be, and is an excellent addition to the series.”
Destructoid (Brett Zeidler):
“Every element in Forza Horizon 2 adds up to an exceptional experience. The story isn’t over the top so as to get in the way of racing, driving feels as good as it ever did in Forza Motorsport, there’s a ton of things to do, and the game looks absolutely beautiful — especially the long-awaited dynamic weather system. Forza Horizon 2 is a must-have on the Xbox One.”
Post Arcade (Patrick O’Rourke):
“Forza Horizon 2 is the top open-world racing game around and the best racing game I’ve played in years… the big question that remains is how Forza Horizon 2 will compare to competing games in the genre once they’re released.”
Joystiq (Ludwig Kietzmann):
“Forza Horizon 2‘s world isn’t the most lively, beset as it is by roaming bands of automotive enthusiasts, but it leaves room for the living – for you. There’s space enough to imprint your moods, whether you rocket into hairpins with a Ferrari or simply cruise around in a gaudy, gold Bentley. Forza Horizon 2 is a big, bouncy summer drive.”
Digital Spy (Liam Martin):
“The original Forza Horizon was the perfect coming together of all the elements that make a great racing game. It married gorgeous visuals with a wonderful setting, great handling and a really fun festival-themed career mode. The sequel… largely builds on these solid foundations, despite a few restrictions on the festival front. From the opening road trip along the French coast to the festival proper, Forza Horizon 2 is a game packed with memorable moments.”
Game Informer (Josh Kowbel):
“Playground Games toes the line between silly and serious, reawakening Forza Horizon’s innate passion previously smothered by Forza 5’s no-frills sterility. Brandishing the purest revelries of pinning a vehicle’s throttle to the floor, Forza Horizon 2 is an exquisite display of car fetishism that studios spend decades trying to imitate, but nobody will think you’re weird for enjoying it. I sure won’t.”
What do you make of the reviews? Will you be adding this to your next-gen collection without hesitation, or do the wounds of Forza 5 – or the other open world racers on their way – give you second thoughts? Sound off in the comments.
Forza Horizon 2 releases for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 on September 30, 2014.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.