Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Forza Horizon 2 Review: Automotive Nirvana

There is a place where you can drive endlessly for miles, as fast as you want, as much as you want. Where you can purchase expensive sports cars relatively easily because of all the money you get just by driving around for fun. Where you can go off the road in your McLaren P1 and not worry about the consequences.

This is Forza Horizon 2. And as you can probably tell by now, I'm absolutely smitten with this game. 

Every car fantasy that inspired classics like Daytona USA, Ridge Racer, and even Gran Turismo has culminated into this one ridiculously amazing racing game. You're put into a huge, open world where you can drive wherever you want, and participate in various types of races in different sorts of weather and all kinds of road environments. You've got the choice of over 200+ cars, and can tune, upgrade, and customize their look all you want. All sorts of colors, paints; you name it, this game has it. This game has all kinds of environments --- city type environments, countryside type environments, beach side, mountain ridges, hills....it's just all so overwhelming.

I've been playing this for almost two weeks now, and it still blows me away when I fire it up. This game is using some mezmerizing spell for its graphics; I can't explain it, it looks real but it doesn't look real --- it's a midpoint between game graphics and full on CG when you're driving. We've come very far in video games, my friends. Hard to believe Microsoft managed this in their second year. They've built Forza Motorsport 5, which does turn heads and is still a very well designed racing game, then they released THIS game, Forza Horizon 2, the year right after. Even if it took them more than a year to make Horizon 2, that's incredible project planning right there.

The multiplayer works. The single player works. I got about 3 game crashes and that's about it when it comes to game 'bugs'. The driving physics is Forza 5 - lite but it's realistic where it counts. It's definitely an arcade racer but it's the best kind. Subjectively speaking, the controls are perfect; they give you a challenge when you go off-road, and they still ask you to work for your wins. The game has a 'rewind' feature which makes things easier but not using it or turning it off gives you bonuses, so you can go all hardcore and enjoy it as it is meant to be played. If you're a guy like me and you have a life and responsibilities, the rewind feature is welcomed and appreciated.

Whoever directed the teams that made this game deserves a raise, a vacation, a garage with all 200 cars from the game and a palace. It's just so good and have a hard time putting this game down. Granted I'm a racing game enthusiast (somewhere between arcade racing fan and sim fan --- not either of the two extremes) but this game just wins me over and I can't help but gush about it. 

I feel sorry for the ones who have not played it. You'll never get a taste of virtual automotive heaven.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My take on the never ending resolution debate

I generally don't agree with most gamers when it comes to having games always be 1080p. 1080p is nice to have, but it's not something I need for my game to feel worth it. I'd rather be sure that a game plays smoothly, or that a game has a sound gameplay mechanic, than be actually counting individual pixels on my screen. 

That said, I believe that Digital Foundry is doing a huge disservice to gamers by creating ridiculous expectations for game graphics. I just find it a bit irritating that most game discussion now boils down to resolution debates, and whether you're getting value for your money or not. 

If you're still doubtful that your spending on a new console was a waste of money, it probably was. You move on to a new generation of systems to get to play the games you want, not to count the pixels and declare one company a winner over another, or get to trample down on another person because of their choices.