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Forza Horizon 2 reviews: what the experts at E3 say

Published: 13 June 2014

Forza Horizon 2 launched this week at the 2014 E3 gaming show in Los Angeles. Time, then, to see what the critics say about one of 2014’s most eagerly awaited driving games.

For the last few years, driving simulators have raised the bar so much that the gaming community can now safely declare that there is little need for them to go out in the real world and have fun with their cars. Will the critics be digging deep into their superlatives vault? Read our review of Forza Horizon 2 reviews to find out.

What is Forza Horizon 2?

For those of you not familiar with the title, this is an open-world driving game that takes place in southern Europe, packing over 200 cars and using the same ‘engine’ – gaming software to replicate a car’s handling - with its big brother, the infamous Forza 5.

According to the first previews of Horizon 2 this week, it looks stunning: 1080p, real-life stunning to be exact. We’ve gathered some expert opinion on the new driving game to draw some early conclusions. Once it launches on 30 September 2014, we’ll have a go ourselves.

Stuff.tv reviews Forza Horizon 2

‘The teams working on this series have made the jump to next-gen as gracefully as a particularly graceful cat that has just spent three years studying for a PhD in Exquisite Movement,' said the reviewers at Stufftv. 'And while the game is packed with tasty motors, you might spend more time gawping at the landscape: the open-world map covers a large chunk of southern Europe, which the developers picked for the roads and scenery, and it's rendered in astonishing detail. As is the weather. The weather is really something.’

Forza Horizon 2: a new, radical weather system

A lot of talk is generated about the graphics of Horizon 2. Playground Games, the studio behind the Forza Horizon franchise, has taken full advantage of the Xbox One’s graphics power to equip its new game with a radical new weather system that simulates Mother Nature in scary detail. Sudden rainfalls, day/night cycles, even the way the road dries up leaving wet patches behind and affecting the handling are bold claims. But judging by the early Horizon 2 reviews, they work brililantly.

‘In a nutshell, the sky in Horizon 2 is blue because science dictates it, not because an artist glanced out a window and settled on the closest shade he or she could find,’ says uk.ign.com.

True, open-world gameplay on Forza Horizon 2

Gamespot.com notes that ‘Another new challenge comes in the form of off-road detours. The original Forza Horizon had its share of dirt roads and shortcuts, but for the most part, you were pretty well confined to the established roadways and paved surfaces. That looks like it'll change with the sequel. At one point in my race, well before the rain came along and sealed my fate, the racing line pointed me away from the road and directly into a wide-open field full of hay bales and dense vegetation. That can't possibly be right, I thought to myself, just before all the other drivers on the track cut left and began barrelling through the rolling hillside.’

Forza Horizon 2 offers a three-times-bigger driving area than its predecessor and allows the player to drive anywhere he wants like a proper open-world game. If you like driving your Lambo Huracan through a grapevine in north Italy, all you have to do is crash through a fence and drive there. Developers say that the game offers at least 100 hours of gameplay if your goal is to complete all of its challenges.

Seamless multiplayer experience

Playground Games claims that the multiplayer mode is now fully integrated into the game so the player doesn’t have to toggle between modes. That means that while you’re driving solo, you can switch directly to the multiplayer mode if you feel like challenging some of your friends with your own Ferrari F12.

‘The Drivatar system from Forza 5 returns, so you'll be able to race against AI versions of your friends, complete with their nuanced gameplay habits,’ say the reviewers at Yahoo. ‘This time around, the big draw to Drivatar is that the system will track what type of shortcuts and alternate paths a player uses across the game's sprawling tracks.

‘The game will allow you to seamlessly enter multiplayer sessions while driving around alone, and this time around, there's more to do than just compete. Horizon 2 will feature car meets, which allow you and a group of online friends to engage in a cross-country road trip with no strict goals to worry about.

How soon can we get our hands on Forza Horizon 2?

Forza Horizon 2 tries to combine the realism of one of the best driving simulators out there (that’s big brother Forza 5, that is) and the guilt-free fun of the arcade racing genre. The first reviews suggest the Forza crew have done a really great job.

The game will be available both on Xbox One and Xbox 360, and the official release date is set on 30 September 2014. Gaming never seemed so serious before.

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