Time for another blazing festival, and euro invited
The opening cinematic sets new standards in unnecessary petrol-headed pretentiousness, featuring hot young people frolicking in sunny fields spliced with footage of exotic motors carving up coastlines to pulse-quickening beats.

Within the dizzying montage, that initial videobomb declares Horizon 2’s aim clearly. It’s about speed, sun, tunes and more speed, taking the superior handling of Turn 10’s sim and sending it on holiday. Unlike the Forza motorsport games, this is an open-world which tracks are carved out of organically. The setting is harder to place than the original’s colorado: this time we’ve a condensed european mishmash of Southern France and Northern Italy, but that’s not to say it’s anything other than beautiful. From the castellato coastline to the San Giovanni forest to the… nice city of Nice, it’s all a visual treat.


rushing scenery, pounding music and engine roar converge to produce sensations inaccessible from a closed circuit. Historic aqueducts, castle ruins, picturesque vineyards and quaint chapels across an area three times the size of the first Horizon give it a cultured sense of history colorado lacked, even if it’s not a huge advancement technically.
“the experience of being in something so flamboyant that only sheiks can afford it”
Torque dirty The world is filled with activities. There are secret vehicles stashed in barns, signs to smash, speed cameras to zoom past, and cars to snap for cash. Then there’s the bucket List, which offers over 100 challenges to complete. Drive to the icon on the map, enter the car, and you’ll be asked to, for instance, get air 15 times in a dockyard, or trade paint with traffic en route to a location. For the abundance of these activities, though, there are few new ideas.

but while the race types curb close to its predecessor, a lack of originality isn’t a problem for Horizon 2. Simply put: it isn’t that type of game. Long, lazy point-to-point excursions down the côte d’Azur, frantic 12-person scrapes through poppy fields in Provence, laps around a sun-baked tourist town gimmicks aren’t needed. There are few driving games that feel better in your hand, from the weight of your vehicle to the way tyres crunch across tarmac, to the violent vision jostles when you veer off-road. The handling has room to breathe.

This makes Horizon 2’s rare excursions into Top Gear territory all the more effective. Showdowns return, this time pitting you against the likes of the Il Tricolore Aereo display team (think the Italian red Arrows) and even a steam engine, an encounter made extra delicious by being set to The clash’s Train in Vain. They’re a Horizon 2 highlight, the length and difficulty perfectly pitched to ensure nail-biting photo-finishes.

Piston off

So effective is the festival structure it hardly matters that you’re repeating history. boiled down, it centres on picking a championship to compete in, driving to the area on the map where the events are clustered, and beating them to enter new championships, all while festival organiser ben proclaims how awesome you are. After 15 championships you’ll be crowned Horizon master and earn the top wristband. There’s little in the way of ladder-climbing given that expensive new cars are served up constantly, but unlockable perks give a decent sense of progression.

calling Horizon 2 a racing game is inaccurate. Opponents don’t put up much of a fight despite being powered by Drivatar, the rubbishly named tech that imbues previously stoic AI with the attributes of human players downloaded from the cloud. In reality there’s little discernible difference between how
drivers act. These are cars that exist to give the impression of a frantic race which they do, to their credit rather than challenge you in any meaningful way; they won’t block your racing line, for instance, or attempt to barge you off the road. collisions only momentarily reduce speed, and rewinds are inexhaustible so losing is rarely in doubt.

No, this is a driving game. It extends far beyond simply racing cars. It’s about car culture. It’s about the experience of being in something so flamboyant that only Sheiks can afford it. It’s sheer wish fulfilment, pelting aimlessly through stunning scenery to your favourite tunes. Although fast-travel is an option, this is a rare case in open-world driving games in which you actually want to
reach your destination yourself. It’s all about the journey.

crash bang wallop

Solitude is a large part of the appeal, but online options have been beefed up for those who prefer company. Joining online parties is a sinch: players can search from friends lists or select random instances from the map. You can join car clubs to make arranging events easier, or create your own and enforce a strict ‘batman decals only’ rule on members. car meets feed into the social
aspect of the culture, wherein players can sit in a virtual car park, rev engines, and share tuning setups and liveries. There’s also the regularly updated monthly rivals in which you can face off against opponents in themed races.

What sets Horizon 2 apart from other driving games is the level of polish. bombing between a tight row of buildings makes your motor’s growl echo off the walls, and despite only a small number of players actually using it, cockpit cam comes as standard on all 200 vehicles. Using the photo mode demonstrates the immense level of detail cars recreated down to their indented tyre treads and the ridges in headlights. Apply arty filters and share your shots with the community if you seek public validation.

Tying it all together are the radio stations. music is a fundamental part of the experience, and if you’re a fan of this particular brand of hip Glastonbury-ish beats, it can elevate races to near euphoria. Few experiences in the virtual space rival revving the engine as you hear the opening refrain of Debaser, or drifting around the hills to mozart, or screeching down the motorway to Jane’s
Addiction’s Just because. DJs even report on your progress, giving you a sense of place in the heady trip known as the Horizon festival.

This isn’t the wide-eyed leap into new-gen we wanted, but it didn’t need to be. A picturesque setting and a bold selection of new beats drive the genre into beautiful territory.

 The Tracks on The Horizon Of the audio, rather than tarmac and dirt, kind

H orizon radio  it’s not for everyone,” is the rather apt slogan for the assortment of stations here. However the music fits perfectly with the game’s festival atmosphere: it pumps, it beats, it doesn’t give you a headache.There are three radio stations to start with more unlocking as you go: Pulse is for trance-fuelled tranquil night drives, Bass Arena is more up-tempo, XS is indie rock and Hospital is largely instrumental.

Artists include contemporaries (Royal Blood, Chvrches, Skaters), classics (Jane’s Addiction, The Clash, The Pixies), and even composers (Bach, Mozart). Horizon 2’s soundtrack compliments the game without drowning it out.