Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious – Review

Title   Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious
Developer  Playground Games
Publisher  Microsoft
Platform  Xbox One (reviewed), Xbox 360
Genre  Racing
Release Date  March 28th, 2015
Official Site

Movie tie-ins are often terrible. If you’ve been playing games for any length of time, you’ve probably found this to be true. There are some exceptions to the rule, of course, with the oft-cited Spider-Man 2 springing immediately to mind. Simply slapping the aesthetic of another franchise on top of an existing game, however, is the kind of brazen move only the most cash grabbing of companies would do. So it comes as no surprise that Microsoft and Universal Pictures joined forces to make the interactive advert that is Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious, essentially a cut-down version of the main product with Ludacris talking over the top of it.

Ludacris is in Nice to try and recruit a new member for the Fast & Furious crew and, as your character has been making waves at the Horizon Festival of the main game, he calls you up to help out. The story is a terrible excuse to send you around unlocking cars, because apparently instead of stealing them you have to win them from other racers. An explanation for this is never given – what Ludacris says goes, it seems. But it’s excuse enough to get driving, and if you just turn the volume down you can safely ignore everything else he says and get on to the actual racing.

Racing, as you might expect from a Forza game, is bloody good. While I’ve never been a fan of the full-on simulation style of the main series, the Horizon offshoot loosens up the handling somewhat and encourages the player to throw their car around a little more, which is a lot more fun. The Fast & Furious setting also allows for the game to skip out the boring progression of slow to fast cars, and immediately throws you into high-speed cars and a chunk of Nice to roam around. If you just want to goof off and terrorise other motorists for a while, you can go ahead and ignore the racing and have a good time slamming through fences and bouncing over fields. The world is populated with your friends’ Drivatars, AI racers made up using data from the real humans’ racing style and stats playing other Forza games. That means there’s always someone to race, or even just slam into, if you can’t be bothered taking part in the main story races.

The races are actually quite varied, and while there’s only a handful to see before the credits roll, you get a good sense of what Forza Horizon 2 is all about. There are point-to-point races, circuit races, cross-country races, and a bunch of stunts including driving past speed cameras at certain speeds and smashing signs. Each event is self-explanatory enough that you won’t get lost in confusion jumping between them, although the constant switching of cars might prove to be slightly annoying. The progression of unlocking cars is incredibly bizarre, and results in you unlocking the second fastest car in the game halfway through the main story. What this also means is that you can’t use this car in most of the races, so after blasting across the world at huge speeds to reach the starting line in your S2 class car, you’ll find yourself stuck in a class C car and struggling to recapture the feeling of speed you experienced only moments before.

That said, you won’t be sticking around long enough for it to really matter. After about three hours of serious racing and a generous amount of screwing around in a supercar, you can hear Ludacris give his thanks for a job well done and jump to the screen where the developers try and entice you into buying Forza Horizon 2. You can go back and re-do all the old races, as well as hunt down the collectibles and speed challenges, but there’s not really much point. There is the option for some multiplayer free-roam with friends, but if you’re lacking in the friends department, there isn’t a lot of draw to driving around the same place with strangers. Still, at time of writing the game is free, and will only cost £8 after April 10th, so the length and variety can’t be slammed too much.

Graphically speaking, it’s not the best-looking Forza game ever made, but the impressive lighting system from the Horizon series, complete with flares and different visual effects are present, and give the experience a summer-y filter that goes some way to helping you ignore the cold, spring weather outside. The cars themselves are fantastically recreated, and look great even when you’ve smashed them to pieces against walls and traffic. It’s a sunny, light and colourful world that’s a joy to drive around in, even if there isn’t a whole lot to see.

The sound department, however, is severely lacking. Having muted Ludacris, all that’s left is a selection of six or seven songs that you’ll also turn off within a few loops, unless you’re a huge fan of “How Do You Like Me Now?” by The Heavy. Still, the sound effects are spot on, with loud engines, screeching tyres, and shattering glass all bringing the experience as close to the real thing as possible. A few more songs, or even a little more variety, would’ve been nice, but you can easily just switch it all off, take in the ambient noise and still be content.

It’s overall quite difficult to really fault Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious. It’s the same base game as Forza Horizon 2, but with a terrible story tacked on and hours of content lopped off. If you take the view that this is essentially just a demo for the full game, then it’s a fun little title that will keep you busy for a few hours and provide enough variety in races and vehicles to entertain you. Personal issues with the soundtrack aside, it’s a very good racer that proves that free content can be enjoyable. If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial and polished, however, it might be worth your while sticking to the main series.

  • It's free! (for now)
  • Gorgeous environments to drive the lovingly recreated cars around
  • Plenty of variety in races and things to do in free-roam
  • Skips the usual slow start and gets straight into the fast cars...
  • ...but the progression of car unlocks is a little too convoluted
  • Boring, borderline-pointless story
  • Repetitive and annoying, if easily mutable, soundtrack
  • Ludacris

As an advertising tool, Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious works brilliantly. It highlights all the best parts of the Forza Horizon games while constantly reminding you to be fast and/or furious. It's short enough to keep you wanting more, but offers enough different challenges to keep you hooked while you're playing. If you're looking for a quick racing fix for a few hours, this'll scratch the itch, but if you want something more substantial and less Ludacris-y, then you should probably look elsewhere.

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