Forza Horizon 2 Preview: Vroom with friends 
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Matthew Figueira
August 14, 2014 at 9:00 am

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I genuinely don’t know when’s the last time I sat down and played a racing game. Need For Speed Carbon perhaps? It was a long time ago. Basically, I entered the Forza Horizon 2 preview with a completely blank slate. Here’s what you can expect from the game.

The presentation was given by Forza Horizon 2 creative director, Ralph Fulton. He told myself and some other press members that he and his team have been working very hard on the game since E3. They have also been listening very closely to all the feedback they have been getting. The game has 4 core values: Beauty, Fun, Freedom, and Connected Experiences.

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Beauty is of course all about the visuals of the game and its environments. From what I saw, it runs at a nice solid frame rate, and it looks rather beautiful. There is a full 24 hour day cycle, with the sun conveniently setting during the demonstration. The most impressive way to show off the visuals and the shine of everything is obviously by means of rain, which just happens to pour down too. It’s all part of  a dynamic weather system. Fulton tells us that all this as well as the dynamic lighting is all possible thanks to the new-gen processing power provided by the Xbox One.

Fun is provided by the various game modes as well as all the vehicles. There are 200 cars available right out of the box. You can drive the likes of the latest Lambo, or even an old school 1963 VW Camper Van. A nice addition is that you can choose from just about any car you want right from the get go. Thankfully, this means no slow progression, where you are stuck with the slow cars until you have progressed enough to unlock the mean machines.

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Part of the fun can come in the form of the freedom of exploration. There are many cities and locales to explore, all of which can be driven around freely. Packed into these locations are over 700 events, which roughly translates into 100+ hours of gameplay. These events consist of traditional races, as well as some other challenges.

One big focus in this package is the connected experience. Much like car culture in real life, the game has a social side to it. Drivers can seamlessly transition from solo to online, all without taking their hands off the steering wheel (at least not for long anyway). The demonstration showed the driver pulling into a visible online event. Once entered, the lobby showed off what cars each player had. You can chat to them before the race starts.

Another neat feature I saw was a matchmaking of sorts. You simply show your intention of going online, and the game will then search around you for cars that match your own. This was shown in a video, where the driver hopped online looking for a simple road trip. He soon sees nearby cars, and proceeds to make his way over to them. They are simply driving to the next destination, together, for fun. This is no race. It could actually be a really cool way to simply socialise with your mates online.

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This online component is further complimented by clubs. Clubs can be formed for various reasons. They can be top-notch, with the intention of only recruiting the best drivers to smash records. Or they can be simply social, consisting of just family and friends.

This is just a small taste of the many features the game has. I’m really not a racing fan, but I do think the enthusiasts will appreciate this next entry into Forza. The first Horizon may have been more casual, but there are options to tweak the difficulty and customise your car to match your requirements in number 2. It’s a racing game to keep both eyes on.

Defence of the Ancients? More like Defence of the cabbages! Have you seen my head? I look like a Merino Sheep on pole. NO SHANGE only SHAPPIES! :D

  • Pieter Kruger

    Will 100% pre download this asap!???? Well technically speaking my pre download should be 100% done by the time the first DLC comes out! Thnx Telkom! ????

    • Admiral Chief Beta Tester

      Line speed?

      • Hammersteyn

        It’s not the line but the hardware :P

        • Admiral Chief Beta Tester

          …that it is connected to?

          • Hammersteyn

            I’m saying the line is fine.

          • Admiral Chief Beta Tester

            I’m getting what you are saying, just checking if you know that I know what you are talking about. Or that you know that I know that you know that I am being sincere?

          • Hammersteyn

            You sincere? LIES!

          • Admiral Chief Beta Tester

            I have to be, since there is a little S thing next to my name forcing me to be nice.

          • Hammersteyn

            Hehe gotta take the good with the bad

          • Pieter Kruger

            You think I don’t know that you know that I know both of you know that that was a stab at the capabilities of my Xbone don’t you….know!! ????

          • Admiral Chief Beta Tester

            Actually, I wanted to know your line speed.

          • Hammersteyn

            Him no, me yes :P

      • Pieter Kruger

        Sadly yes, had 4mb but all of a sudden 2mb is best line speed! Saw them laying new cables a month or so ago, so there’s hope yet!

        • Admiral Chief Beta Tester

          I heard that they are moving the 2mb lines all to 4mb at the end of the year, I hope this is true, and that my price stays the same!

  • Hammersteyn

    Would like to try this one day, see what the fuss is about.

    • Admiral Chief Beta Tester

      Wonder if they have a polo…

      • VampyreSquirrel

        I want a Chico… modified… death trap style.

      • Pieter Kruger

        The 70’s era VW Combi bus in Forza 5 rules hippy style! Got me some nice flower power decals and be cruising, just cruising……

  • CypherGate

    I loved Forza 4. Enjoyed every bit of it. Was one of the only racing games i enjoyed playing often. I like the mixture of arcade style with some simulation in between. Forza 5 was the biggest disappointment. Then i saw Forza Horizon and i was like oh yes… perfect! Bought it. Played it and was deadly disappointed! It reminded me WAY too much of DIRT 2.

    The whole look and feel. It felt somehow watered down. What annoyed me as well is that allllll the rims etc etc were the same as previous games. Why cant they add more? Anyway. This looks good, but will most probably test drive it first.

  • Gareth L (That eXCheez Guy)

    And the “for plebs” Xbox 360 version, how’s that shaping up?

  • z1n

    Forza 4 was great! Horizon, not so much. I’d like them to return more to the SIM way of life than playing barbie racer ‘dress me up and drive me everywhere’.
    Although I’m a very boring racer, I only played Nordschleife… a lot. I’ll keep my eye on this though.

  • FoxOneZA

    Screw those horror games. Give me a supercar and an open road.