It’s definitely easy to get immersed by Forza Horizon 2 as you speed down the country roads at 150mph, racing at top speed to cross the finish line before a fighter jet can. It’s a feeling that the racing genre hasn’t presented in years — until now.

Playground Games takes the successes of the previous Forza Horizon game and gives it a wealth of new features. First is the new world, which is in southern Europe. Once again, you are a driver taking part of a festival, which is a tournament that features the world’s best racers. You’ll need to compete and win to rank up to qualify for the top races.

The races in Career Mode are categorized as championships where you must pick a car from a specific class and race three or four times. Aside from these, there are hundreds of little challenges to complete throughout the open world. For instance, not only will you see standard traffic on the roads, but rivals will drive along as well who can be challenged to a race. Depending on where you are, a nearby finish point is selected; you must then finish the race by any means necessary.

The Rivals system is also an interesting concept. When a player finishes a race, a notification will appear that tells you the next player who completed the course just a little faster; if you can beat their time, then you’ll earn a bounty. Even typically non-competitive racers can get pulled in to try and complete a course just half a second faster for a reward. For extra motivation, a ghost car represents that rival’s run.

Having a speedy car is just half the fun in Forza Horizon 2 for Xbox One; the rest is customization. Your car has hundreds of customization options, and you can select from one of 210 different cars available in the game. Try adding vinyls in a way that forms a brand logo of your choice.

It should come as no surprise that Forza Horizon 2 has top-notch sound; you can hear the engines revving up and the delicate details of a car collision. There’s also a fun soundtrack included now with various radio stations to cycle through. Each station offers its own flavor of music with little overlap between them.

One thing to note, however, is that as good as the game is, it is odd that the career races do not open up for replaying when you’ve completed the story; the only time you are able to access those races is when you’re at that point during the story in Career Mode.

As far as open world racing games go, Forza Horizon 2 has definitely raised and set the new bar. It comes with vivid, lifelike visuals in a European setting with an extensive customizable car list, competitive multiplayer, a large map and intense races. With limitless car customization options and the huge map to explore, Forza Horizon 2 is a worthy game to pick up.

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