Forza Horizon 2 didn’t make a great first impression on me. I think I just got too caught up in the hype and the product delivered felt a little…trivial maybe. Mostly it was the off-road stuff that bugged me; I felt like it made it too easy to just cut across a corner instead of following pavement. I also didn’t like that you got a really good car early on and I saw no need to switch, at least at first. And then there was the in-game radio stations, which I didn’t care for.
In fact my first impression was that Forza Horizon 2 was that it was a bit of a
train car wreck.
But I kept playing and the more I played, the more I enjoyed it. I unlocked the classical music station (I’d still prefer a classic rock station but oh well). I was prompted to buy new cars so I could compete in different kinds of events. I was introduced to systems like “Barn Finds” (where you have to search out an abandoned barn that has some old car inside that you’ll get for free) and collecting photos of different cars. I joined a Club (the one that AGE runs) and started competing against both club members and friends to see who could bust the most billboards or discover the most roads.
All the while the racing grew on me. I embraced cutting across corners (or even across fields) and just ignored the fact that most of these cars would have no chance of transversing a plowed field, given their clearance. I’d choose to drive a VW Microbus instead of a Ferrari just for the silly joy of driving an old classic. Basically I re-learned how to play a game for fun instead of playing in the most expedientway in order to finish as quickly as possible.
And now I love Forza Horizon 2. I think my turning point came when I got a chance to race a train.
But there’s more to the story and it has to do with the Xbox One itself, and how it enabled me to come to love FH2 (and how the system is starting to really grow on me). In order to explain I have to tell you a little bit about my routine.
Every day after work I take the dog for a walk and then come home and have a variable amount of ‘down time’ before dinner. Angela is the cook in this house and this is my lazy time when I crack open a beer and flop down on the couch. I never know if I’m going to have 5 minutes or 50, so in the pre-Xbox One days I’d just watch TV because it wasn’t worth firing up a game if I was going to have to quit before I really got started.
But now I turn on the Xbox One and start playing a game. The amount of time I have doesn’t really matter because of the XB1’s suspend feature. When dinner is ready it’s a matter of saying “Xbox watch TV” and the game I’m playing suspends and TV starts playing (yes we’re bad people who eat dinner in front of the TV). So we’ll eat and watch something on the DVR. After dinner Angela usually grabs her iPad to check Twitter or Pinterest or whatever, and I grab the controller and switch back to my suspended game and pick up right where I left off. When I’ve had my fill (or if I have more work to do) I put the whole Xbox into standby mode. The next day I can wake it up and again pick up that game right where I left off.
This sounds minor but in fact it is making the XB1 my go-to console since I don’t have to load up a game, then load up a save, and then start playing. I just say “Xbox On,” grab a controller and start playing the game I had been playing the previous evening.
Overall I still prefer the Playstation ecosystem and when I know I have a couple hours to play it’s the PS3 or PS4 that gets turned on. But on busy days when I just have a few minutes to sneak in some gaming before or after dinner, the Xbox One can provide that fix quickly and effortlessly. And Forza Horizon 2 is the kind of game that rewards playing for 10 minutes; maybe I can get a photo of a rare car, or maybe I’ll go in search of signs to drive through for bonus points. The game offers a plethora of both short and long term goals and makes even the shortest gaming sessions feel really fun.