Forza Horizon 2 really is as liberating as Microsoft is claiming. In a single-player demo after Microsoft’s Gamescom press conference, I was racing three AI opponents and closing on the car in front. I looked for a chance to overtake… when he suddenly veered off the track, through a vineyard and into a field full of bales of hay. Well, you know what they say. When in Rome…
The game handles much more responsively than the rather heavy-feeling Forza 5, allowing you to swerve between oncoming traffic and make late direction-changes into short-cuts much more easily than if the simulation were identical.
There’s still a good sense of weight and the cars drift with just the right amount of grip-to-danger-of-death ratio. The Gamescom demo keeps the ‘suggested line’ visible at all times, turning red when you’re travelling too fast to follow it, but when the track limits are so fuzzy, you can often find a way to beat the arrows and make the turn without slowing down.
That said, it’s definitely not the sort of game where you can just hold down accelerate forever. A slightly over-exuberant slide cracked my windscreen. But the cars take a lot more punishment than you’d put them through in real life. Real fields = broken supercar. In Forza, real fields = real fun. In this short Gamescom demo, after a couple of minutes of upending hay bales and smashing through crops of corn, the heavens open and the rain suddenly thrashes down, soaking the road surface.
The change in handling is exemplary and the graphical transition is smooth and impressive to watch. Indeed, it’s a very good-looking game in all respects. Perhaps a little jagged at times, but the complex, ever-changing scenery is detailed and distinct, even when you’re hurtling through it at 100mph.
I wasn’t particularly impressed with the first Forza Horizon, but from this short demo, I have very high hopes for its sequel. It would take a massive wrong turn to all go wrong from here… but even then, it can always cut through the vineyard.