If there is one racing game to play this year then Forza Horizon 2 is that game. Open world driving to six locations set against the lush countryside of France and Italy.
From the outset as the ferry docks and you drive a Lamborghini Huracan from the shadows out into the blinding Continental sunshine there is that feeling that something special is coming. A race to the Horizon Festival that is the hub of all that follows - where organiser, Ben, greets you and gives you the offer of three rides. It is back to where you started with four types of race before you get the chance to race that Huracan against Italy's version of the Red Arrows - once complete you get to keep the car.
There are four more similar challenges - race a steam train, beat 37 hot air balloons, chase a crop duster and, best of all, run down a cargo plane (this is scary as this plane is coming in to land over the top of you).
Okay, so that is just the tip of the iceberg.
The more championships you win gets you to a finale and as you think that that is it - all you have done is reached the end of Part One; Part two sees Ben decide to join in which leads to a second Finale where you have to beat him. Even then the game has not come to an end because there is a nice fat achievement to be picked up when you have completed 168 championships.
Added into the package are head to head racing; rivals' times to beat; reward boards to discover and smash - Forza Horizon 2 is an endless game.
Even the races are no longer confined to the usual stick to the road route - driving a Ford Raptor off road through a field of lavender or red poppies; or a dirt track in a rally car you 'feel' every bump and grind.
This game comes from Playground Games (based in Cambridge) for Turn 10 creators of Forza. A couple of years back the first Horizon was set in the scenic countryside of Colorado where you raced against some obnoxious characters. Happy to say that they have gone.
Despite the addictive gameplay there are a couple of quibbles - the off road Cross Country is in need of better sign posting; and sometimes I have found that even though having gone through the centre of a checkpoint the computer says that I missed it and the penalty is being put a fair way back from last place (if that happens then just click re-start).
A lot of work has gone into this game from the scenery down to the cars themselves. Classic racers through rally and monsters to everyday saloons; retro and modern American muscle cars - this is a world where you can live the dream in endless fun. And the weather fluctuates between hot cloudless days to the crack of thunder that heralds a downpour and when the rain has gone and the sun starts to shine a rainbow appears.
So where next? May I suggest that as motor racing comes to the streets of Coventry as it has done before in London that the UK could be a good location.
There is an Xbox 360 version from Sumo but it is a different game style.
Saturday 25 October 2014
Tuesday 14 October 2014
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