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#1 Edited by Chaser324 (8554 posts) -
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The time has finally arrived! It's time to rip through the grassy hillsides and road-lined coast of Southern Europe in the second hipster music/car Horizon Festival. The Forza Horizon 2 demo just dropped a few hours ago, and I thought it might be cool to share some impressions of it here. Here are my initial thoughts.

Strong Start

In the grand scheme of things, it's pretty inconsequential, but I loved the way the first Horizon opened up and the sequel arrives in similar style. Pulling off of a ferry in an exotic and powerful Lamborghini Huracan into the tight city streets of a sunlit coastal city clearly inspired by the likes of Monaco and Naples, it's immediately clear that this game has a bit of a different flavor to its car filled environs. Obviously the next gen graphical fidelity bump is pretty jaw-dropping on its own, but the Southern Europe style comes across very well, and it makes the game immediately feel distinct from its predecessor as you drive your beastly new Lambo along cliffsides and through hilly vineyards to finally arrive at the Horizon festival grounds just in time for nightfall.

Looks Gorgeous

The first Horizon was debatably one of the best games of the last console generation, and I feel like this game carries on that pedigree very well. Car detail seems to be on par with what was in Forza 5 and looks great, but it's the environments that are where the game really shines.

What catches my attention more than anything though is the detail of it all. The city streets are filled with stuff - a line of bikes, a souvenir stand, benches - and the hillsides are packed with swaying flora and fauna that makes this feel a lot more lively than the mountains of Colorado. There's the occasional shadow flicker, messy texture, and minor pop-in here and there, but in general, everything looks great and the draw distances are amazing - even the typical open-world issue of cars popping in just ahead of you seems to be a thing of the past. Also, there was clearly some time spent on refining the tire smoke to please the drift enthusiasts.

I'm sure some will bemoan the lack of 60 frames per second, but the solid locked 30 suits me just fine.

Feels Great

This largely feels like the same arcade-tuned Forza from the previous game. The biggest effort seems to have been put in to improving the feel of different surfaces and making it actually fun and desirable to take the car off-road, and it seems to have really paid off. When the new dynamic weather system kicks in and wets the road, the car handling definitely feels looser, turns wider, and generally feels a bit more squirrelly. The off-road rally style events in Horizon weren't that great, but the feel in the dirt here inspires hope that it will be a bit better.

The biggest change in the physics though is clearly in making going off-road and bounding over hills super fun. The Cross Country event in the demo is a load of fun, and I'm really looking forward to doing more.

Big World

With this being a limited demo, it's hard to make judgements on the size/scope of the full game, but what's here definitely inspires hope in me that it will deliver something at least on par with the last game.

The two normal events in the demo, a cross country race and a circuit race, both felt really good and were moderately challenging to work your way to the front of the pack. The drivatar system has returned from Forza 5 though, so it will be interesting to see how things change once your horribly aggressive friends enter the fray.

The over the top challenge events have also made a return. The event in the demo has you racing against an aerial display team, and it's just as fun and crazy as anything I recall from the first game.

In addition to the main events, the little side distractions of speed cameras and sign smashing also have returned.

There are also "Horizon Bucket List" events which appear to have taken the place of the sponsor challenges. The one in the demo is initiated by finding a parked Koenigsegg and "driving it like you stole it" which essentially boils down to hitting a particular target on a speed camera.

The online mode also appears to have been further filled out (it was a bit light in the first Horizon), but there's not a ton here in the demo aside from a video teaser and a sampling of online free roam.

Bottom Line

I've already got my pre-order in and have the game preloading as we speak. I'm hyped to play some more in a couple of weeks.

What did you guys think?

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#2 Posted by Sterling (4134 posts) -

I didn't know this was up yet. I'll have to download this tonight. I loved the first game.

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#3 Edited by SubwayD (896 posts) -

I'm no car nut, so I can't speak to all the fine details that goes into the genre.

What I can say is that I really enjoyed the demo. Enjoyed it so much that when it finished I, without hesitation, pre-ordered the game right there from the menu.

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#4 Posted by Optix12 (693 posts) -

That intro video is easily my favourite thing of the demo. Already have my preorder in.
I really like the fact that they added in detail tuning into this horizon (which was missing from the first)

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#5 Posted by Humanity (17898 posts) -

@chaser324: Have you played The Crew beta? I wonder how it compares to that game.

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#6 Posted by Chaser324 (8554 posts) -

@humanity: I didn't play The Crew beta, but I watched quite a bit of it. I'd say this game has a number of advantages over that.

The big one is that the car handling in The Crew looked awful. These are racing games, so if driving a car isn't fun, it doesn't matter much what you put around that.

I'd also say that Horizon 2 is probably going to benefit from having a denser and more well designed world, and the new feel of off-road driving in Horizon 2 makes it feel pretty good even in the spaces between the paved surfaces. The Crew has a lot of mileage to cover, but much of it isn't anything all that special and if you get off of the asphalt in any car not tuned for off-road, it seems like you're in for a bad time.

Some of the co-op open world stuff in The Crew seems potentially interesting, but we'll have to see how that turns out in the full game.

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#7 Posted by SgtSphynx (2574 posts) -

Forza Horizon 2 is one of those games that I will eventually buy an XONE for. I loved the first game, glad to hear that the second seems to keep that feel.

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#8 Posted by Humanity (17898 posts) -

@chaser324: Well having played the Crew and not having played Forza (I don't own an XB1 yet) I can clarify a few things. The physics feel more "realistic" than "arcadey" in a way. Cars have a lot of weight to them and you're not just popping the handbrake any time you feel like it to slide around 90 degree turns. Once you get used to it it's fine but I guess I wouldn't mind if it was a little more loose. Driving off road in a non-offroad car still feels cool. For the Beta I drove around in a muscle car and going offroad was cool. I can't compare city density since I haven't even seen Forza 2 in action much less played it, but cities weren't all that detailed in the Crew. When driving from place to place there are little mini games akin to the billboards you mentioned in Forza. You either hit a big ramp to go for range, smash targets, slalom between pylons and stuff of that variety. What is cool about them is that after completing each one you get a car part (which you can install on the spot) and experience with it - it's instant gratification.

So I guess we're just exchanging info about games we haven't played. I only bring this up because The Crew is a similar game to Forza that I'm interested in - open world racing - and since I don't own an XB1 it's the only one available to me.

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#9 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8530 posts) -

Hey, wait a second... a Forza thread not helmed by Trace? What is this madness?

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#10 Posted by conmulligan (1841 posts) -

I just played through the introduction, and holy shit the Horizon games have such a terrific sense of style. I'm not the biggest fan of racing games in general, but the original Horizon was the closest one has come to perfection since Gran Turismo 2, so I'm really eager to get my hands on the full version. If we're really lucky, maybe the rivals won't be completely insufferable and it actually will be a perfect game.

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#11 Edited by Chaser324 (8554 posts) -

@humanity: It sounds like you maybe enjoyed The Crew more than most other people I've jabbed with about it, so I hope you do enjoy the full release. Your interpretation of it being more "realistic" and Horizon 2 being more "arcadey" seems a bit odd based on what I've seen, but I won't continue to speculate on a game I haven't played. I look forward to hearing impressions of how The Crew comes together in the end.

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#12 Posted by stackboy (752 posts) -

Really keen for FH2, but I think I'll wait until the full release for a taste. Can just watch the multitude of videos that will be up.

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#13 Edited by xx_kells (54 posts) -

@optix12: @subwayd: Exactly, felt the same way about the game. I don't usually buy racing games and if I do I'll wait until they are dirt cheap, but this had me from the intro, too bad you can't skip it afterwards though. Also, have it pre-ordered, but I couldn't put down the $80-$100 for the extra versions though, is it worth it?

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#14 Posted by bigjeffrey (5282 posts) -

Pre loaded day one edition, this game is gonna be awesome.

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#15 Posted by trace (3743 posts) -

There are also "Horizon Bucket List" events which appear to have taken the place of the barn finds...

Actually, the full game will have more barn finds than the first. Pretty sure these do replace the sponsor challenges, though.

To quickly run through other questions in here, from my view:

  • This is far better than The Crew in execution, though both are pretty and have good open-world ideas (The Crew might have a more interesting world in the end -- not sure, though).
  • The VIP/car pack $80/$100 versions aren't necessary, though if you have a Forza 5 VIP, the $10 discount on any VIP'd version makes it a little more tempting. VIP's basically a few more free cars and double XP forever, while the season pass is 31 new cars over six months. Whether either are worth $20 in your mind is very much debatable. I never bought into Horizon 1's season pass and was more than happy, though they may bring out wilder cars these days. Double XP's nice -- helps ease any grindy feelings, though I wouldn't fault a soul for thinking that's not worth $10-20.

I...probably should get a car club thread up within the next day or two. Hopefully those won't be a kerfuffle like they were in Horizon 1.

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#16 Edited by Yakumo1975 (51 posts) -

downloaded this demo last night but due to the time difference it didn't go live in Japan until 11pm. By the time it downloaded I only had about an hour to play before going to bed. What I did play was fantastic! The cars are amazing as you'd expect but the world in which you race is even better! I started with the Mitsubishi Evolution and must say that the handling was very impressive. The only downside for me is that the bumper cam is not much use in off road modes because of the tall grass. You can't see a thing :) still, I can use my favourite view on the circuit races.

Bottom line is if you like racing games or just cars then this is a game for you! As for all the rip off DLC, well.... You don't need to buy it. I never bought it for Forza 3 or 4 and it didn't affect my gaming experience one little bit.

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#17 Posted by Chaser324 (8554 posts) -

@yakumo1975: The DLC definitely is a bit of a rip-off, but on the plus side, everything Playground Games has been saying seems to indicate that they tried to avoid falling into the same "free-to-play" traps of the Forza 5 economy.

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#18 Posted by BabyChooChoo (7035 posts) -

Hearing all the praise makes me wanna play so fuckin bad but my download speed is unusually soooooo fuckin slow

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#19 Posted by Sterling (4134 posts) -

The demo is 10GB? Are you shitting me.

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#20 Posted by Clapmaster (250 posts) -

Bottom line is I had no hype at all for this game, I was going to play it sooner or later as I do with every Forza game but after playing this demo I cannot wait another 2 weeks!

This is the first game for me that truly feels "next-gen". There's so many little details in the visuals, some stuff I can't remember seeing ever before in a racing game. The way the sun reflects off of cars and the rain drops actually sitting on your car and then headlights and various dynamic light sources reflecting in those rain drops. I'm sorry but this demo just blew me away. I have to say I think the car handling in this feels absolutely perfect for this type of game. All those other racing games coming out this fall are going to be an after thought compared to Horizon 2.

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#21 Posted by Nasar7 (3222 posts) -

Just played the demo for about a half hour, did the first two missions. Not sure what to think yet of the driving model. Simulation still feels pretty arcadey so I'll have to switch between that and full on arcade mode and see which is more fun. The scenery is beautiful and I'm a fan of the radio stations too. I haven't played a game of this type since Test Drive Unlimited, which bums me out knowing this game won't have motorcycles in it.

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#22 Posted by bigjeffrey (5282 posts) -

got damn

@sterling said:

The demo is 10GB? Are you shitting me.

next gen man, game is 32gb

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#23 Posted by xyzygy (10595 posts) -

@bigjeffrey Wow... that gif is absolutely incredible. I need this game.

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#24 Posted by fleabeard (232 posts) -
Loading Video...

Here's my experience with the game. (I'm really loving it.)

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#25 Edited by Chaser324 (8554 posts) -
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#26 Posted by fleabeard (232 posts) -

@chaser324: I'm not surprised, it's been really hot these past few days here in SoCal.

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#27 Posted by Yakumo1975 (51 posts) -

@chaser324: I hope so. I like to buy a game for the RRP and get my moneys worth without having to buy extras just to enjoy the game I bought or have to play online all of the time such as with Taitanfall.

So far I really am enjoying the demo and can't wait for the full game to arrive in a few weeks. I'm also surprised that Microsoft Japan are releasing the disc release here pretty much the same time as the west even though Forza 5 only just hit the shops last week. A big thumbs up to them for that move.

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#28 Posted by Amikron (439 posts) -

I have never been sold so hard by a demo in my life. Just played the demo and I was just blown away by it. I played Forza 5 some and I thought it was a good game, it just never clicked with me. Pretty game, seemed deep, but didn't click. This, however, they really have a special game on their hands here if this demo is anything to gauge the product by. The last time I felt this way about a racing game was probably NFS: Underground. I'm having a hard time not gushing about it right now honestly as I usually am not one to be floored by a video game but this did it.

I went from "I'll probably get that eventually" before the demo to "maybe I should get the deluxe version..." which is not something I do.

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#29 Edited by HatKing (7427 posts) -

Best off road racing I've seen, possibly ever. It actually captures that sense of freedom without feeling like a clunky open world game. Seeing AI cars blast through fences and crops and take paths that weren't obvious was the coolest thing I've seen on one of these new consoles. It actually behaved like what I imagined it'd be like if a bunch of folks were just given check points, no track, and told to race. Controlled chaos.

It's pretty, but I really with this weren't coming to 360, I feel like it's being held back a little bit.

@amikron said:

I went from "I'll probably get that eventually" before the demo to "maybe I should get the deluxe version..." which is not something I do.

Same thing happened to me.

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#30 Posted by Bollard (8021 posts) -

The only thing making me wish I had an Xbox One. The first one was fantastic.

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#31 Edited by Optix12 (693 posts) -

@Trace Horizon 2s car club can hold 1000 members so at least no more hassle in regards to having secondary clubs holding the overflow.

In the UK I found a trick to make £60 of xbox live credit cost £44 (from tesco) so for £5 extra i may as well get the car pass

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#32 Posted by mbradley1992 (590 posts) -

I downloaded it last night but it didn't finish before I went to bed. I'm so ready to get home and play this.

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#33 Posted by CaLe (4798 posts) -

I was really impressed with everything about it, even the opening scene made the whole festival culture seem appealing to me, someone who is not at all into that stuff. The controls are as good, if not better than the first game, which pretty much perfected open world driving controls. Flying through fields at 200mph was so flipping intense that I literally had my mouth open and couldn't help but take my hands off the controller because it felt too damn dangerous. Never once have I had that experience in a driving game before. The graphics and setting are beautiful, weather effects included. I was leaning towards renting, but after the demo I decided to just pre-order the digital day one edition. I love the confidence they're showing in it as well, wish more companies treated their games like that.

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#34 Edited by Chaser324 (8554 posts) -

@cale said:

I love the confidence they're showing in it as well, wish more companies treated their games like that.

Yeah. The confidence from MS and Playground definitely leaves you feeling pretty optimistic about the final product.

Most outlets have review copies right now, can post video/streams (with some restrictions) as of next Monday, and post reviews next Thursday.

No Caption Provided

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#35 Posted by inevpatoria (7284 posts) -

Christ.

I can't wait for this game.

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#36 Edited by Sterling (4134 posts) -

Oh man, that was fantastic. Brilliant. Glorious. Pre ordered the instant I was done playing. So much fun. I got super stale on 5 and haven't played it in 6 months or more. I can see playing this game a lot. The handling of the cars felt great. I really, really dug the off road stuff.

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#37 Posted by Pixelrat (70 posts) -

really impressed by the demo, the media they had been showing really didn't show how good this game actually looks and I was skeptical of things after being tremendously let down by forza 5

I had more fun in this demo than I've had in some full games, really looking forward to it now.

really interested to see what @jeff thinks since he liked the first one so much

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#38 Posted by CByrne (509 posts) -

@sterling said:

So much fun. I got super stale on 5 and haven't played it in 6 months or more.

You know there is a group of us that plays that game every week right? http://www.giantbomb.com/forums/forza-motorsport-5-622521/giant-bomb-forza-race-night-thursdays-9-30-pm-et-1461356/ we are moving to horizon 2 so only a week or 2 left.

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#39 Posted by Sterling (4134 posts) -

@cbyrne said:

@sterling said:

So much fun. I got super stale on 5 and haven't played it in 6 months or more.

You know there is a group of us that plays that game every week right? http://www.giantbomb.com/forums/forza-motorsport-5-622521/giant-bomb-forza-race-night-thursdays-9-30-pm-et-1461356/ we are moving to horizon 2 so only a week or 2 left.

I probably wont go back to 5 anytime soon. But I'll check that out for Horizons 2 though. Thanks for the info/link.

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#40 Posted by subyman (727 posts) -

Looks awesome. I've been tempted to buy an Xbox One for this and Forza 5.

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#41 Edited by Amikron (439 posts) -

Got the day one edition preordered on the xbox one, as I said earlier in the thread I wasn't thinking of getting this at launch at all really but after that demo I couldn't resist. I am really amped to get playing with the rest of you folks, the free roam stuff seems like it could be a lot of fun.

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#42 Posted by BabyChooChoo (7035 posts) -

Holy shit snacks, finally got to play the demo and I totally see what all the hype is about now. I haven't been this excited about a racing game in forever. Guess that's another fucking game to buy this fall

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#43 Posted by ThunderStorm101 (127 posts) -
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#44 Edited by ht101 (2036 posts) -

I've spent around one hour with the demo and from what I played the driving system is very forgiving and you are able to recover from most mistakes fairly easily. You do need to be careful on corners and take them at an appropriate speed. The opening scene was interesting but I'm not really sure how to feel about it. The bucket list event was pretty cool and I'm wondering how they will make them harder which is something that seems like it could have some cool variations on. The plane race was really cool but I wish we could have been given greater access to the events. I'm not sure if I will purchase it yet but I am definitely thinking about getting it.

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#45 Edited by Optix12 (693 posts) -

@thunderstorm101 Checking it now it appears they adjusted prices but basically they had the £50 xbox live card priced at £45 and the £10 xbox card at £9 (6 saving there) and for new customers (as long as you just signed up with a new e-mail it still counted) using a coupon to get £10 off your first £50+ purchase I saved £16. They spotted this though and the cards are now full price (£50 card costs £50 etc. so max saving is £10).

EDIT: Il add some stuff relevant to the topic, has anyone played around with the game at night and checked out the Horizon festival it self? I tried doing this last night but for some reason the day/night cycle wouldnt change for 40 minutes (although that is probably due to me only doing that intro mission then messing around). Horizon 2 demo has sold me so well that I may end up getting a steering wheel at the same time as this game coming out

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#46 Posted by ThunderStorm101 (127 posts) -

@optix12: Ah nice, still £10 off is pretty good. Went and got a 25 and two 15's (55 total) for 45 quid. Makes a digital game on the Xbox store reasonably priced


As for the game, i played Forza during the free weekend which was the first since 3 ive played and it was alright but it just wasnt doing much for me, i never played the first horizon but i really enjoyed the demo, looks fantastic and plays great as well. Probably will pick this one up.

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#47 Edited by HatKing (7427 posts) -

@chaser324 said:

@cale said:

I love the confidence they're showing in it as well, wish more companies treated their games like that.

Yeah. The confidence from MS and Playground definitely leaves you feeling pretty optimistic about the final product.

Most outlets have review copies right now, can post video/streams (with some restrictions) as of next Monday, and post reviews next Thursday.

And that demo seemed like a really thick cut, for a demo. It was really smart for them to show off the off road stuff. That sold me instantly. Right now the debate isn't to get it or not, it's if I want to go all in on that $100 version or not.

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#48 Posted by OldManLight (1328 posts) -

@sterling: i think a large chunk of it is the 2minute hd movie that it opens with but once you see the visuals, you'll probably forgive the large demo size. The game looks fantastic. If i could criticize one visual oddity, their weather effects that they've been talking up so much are not perfect. for instance, when it's raining, the rain looks great especially for the way rain looks when you're sitting in a car that's stopped or at a low speed, but when you're speeding along at 100 mph and the rain doesn't react to the wind blowing it off the windshield, it sort of took me out of the moment. some water sheeting off the windshield and hood of the car would've been a really nice touch. Otherwise, i have no complaints other than the occasional physics engine freak out when your 200 mph car hits an unmovable object and the car doesn't crumple into a heap of twisted metal but then again, forza has never had that effect down very well. I do feel like in a "post flatout/gta/burnout" world, car crashes and damage models in racing game should be much more dramatic. For them to skip off of objects like matchbox cars breaks the magic for me a bit. Still buying this game day one, i loved Forza Horizon and they've done it again in Forza Horizon 2.

TIP : That new rally race type is amazing in the cockpit view.

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#49 Posted by Vinny_Says (5914 posts) -

man...I loved the weird races against planes and whatnot in the first horizon....should I get the demo or just wait a bit longer? It's not far off now

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#50 Posted by inevpatoria (7284 posts) -

I will really be interested to see how full on Motorsport-level tuning in this influences the balance of the multiplayer experience. Horizon 1 was really slick because Playground Games so neatly strode the line between purchasing upgrades for cars and player skill.

Those Forza Motorsport games are basically unplayable online for someone like me who knows not the first thing about tuning cars. People with extremely granular knowledge can push cars beyond realistic or competitive limits to the point where it isn't fun to even play with them. Hoping Horizon doesn't fall prey to that.