Gaming Hype: Forza Horizon 2 “Storm Island” Expansion Coming Tomorrow & Bringing Off Road Crazyness With It (UPDATED)

Posted on 12.15.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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I have been playing Forza Horizon 2 for a few months now and I don’t think I am even half way through everything there is to do in the game; yet Playground Games is ready to drop a whole new metric ton of extra stuff on us in the new “Storm Island” expansion pack.  Storm Island is a “mysterious island somewhere off the coast of Italy” where players can participate in 80 new events in new environments including trails where the sky is darkened by volcanic ash in new off road cars like rally cars and super stadium trucks.  Check out the trailer below to see more.  If you want the Storm Island expansion it comes out tomorrow (Dec. 16th 2014) for $19.99.  If you are a Forza VIP member then you can get the expansion for $9.99.

UPDATE: Scroll below the video for the official press release which lists new events, and the new cars that come with the expansion pack.

[Source: IGN]

Press Release:

The epic road trip continues on Xbox One with the expansion for “Forza Horizon 2.”

Storm clouds are gathering; a fierce tropical storm is about to break. Several of the world’s most iconic off-roaders are lined up, poised to spring with a punch of the gas pedal. Thunder crashes in the distance, an omen of the dangerous terrain and extreme elevation changes that await. Drivers grip their steering wheels, ready to tackle the epic challenges ahead. Welcome to a new land of extremes with the “Forza Horizon 2: Storm Island” expansion!

The Storm Island expansion brings fans more of what they love about the year’s best racing game: more beauty, more fun, more challenge, and more ways to compete with and against friends. The “Forza Horizon 2: Storm Island” expansion is available now exclusively on Xbox One and can be purchased from the Xbox Live Store for $20. “Forza Horizon 2” VIP owners will receive a 50 percent discount on the expansion, making the price just $10 for VIP members.

Here’s a breakdown of the new content coming with the Storm Island expansion.

Dangerous Beauty

This expansion pack for “Forza Horizon 2” features a new location to explore, the mysterious and foreboding Storm Island. This is a land of gorgeous variety and monumental challenge, with sudden and dramatic terrain changes that push players and their cars to the limit. Storm Island also features the most severe weather conditions ever seen in a “Forza” game, including fierce tropical storms and thick fog that will add an entirely new level of challenge. On Storm Island, the weather and the world combine to present players with extreme adventure every time they get behind the wheel.

Storm Island has been built with the “Forza Horizon 2” engine and infused with brand new technology that showcases the beauty of the world. New features like swaying trees in extreme windstorms and the rays of the sun cutting through thick fog bring the adventure and splendor of Storm Island to life in ways players have never experienced before.

Action-Packed Fun

Storm Island brings more intense racing action with an emphasis on all-out, off-road fun. The expansion features 90 new events with five new event types players can test their skills in, and all have been designed to bring the most out of both the driver as well as every vehicle in the game. These new events include:

Rampage

Rampage events are point-to-point off-road sprints, where the driver will contend with obstacles and smashables (including the brand new smashable chicanes) before crossing the finish line.

Brawl

Grab your favorite four-wheeled weapon and strap in for these off-road circuit races featuring extreme terrain, lots of obstacles to take advantage of, and new smashables to wreck.

Extreme Cross Country

Fans have played Cross Country events in “Forza Horizon 2” but have never played them quite like this. With more extreme elevation changes, a variety of different terrain types, and strong storms to contend with, Storm Island’s Extreme Cross Country races are not for the faint of heart.

Cross Country Circuit

One sprint in a Cross Country race will get players’ heart rates up. But how about multiple laps? In Cross Country Circuit events, players will be taking on those same unpredictable challenges in multi-lap races that will test both their stamina and skill.

Gauntlet

Gauntlet events have become the stuff of legend on Storm Island. These point-to-point races are held only at night, and take place during the types of storms that normally have proper names attached to them. These epic races are long and dangerous – with minimal signage to guide players during the race. Just completing a Gauntlet event is challenging enough. Victory will take a special combination of skill, bravery, and luck.

The Adventure Never Stops

Storm Island is a massive expansion of “Forza Horizon 2,” with tons of content and replay value. In addition to new event types listed above, Storm Island will include new items and locations to explore – including new roads and bonus boards, a brand new Car Meet, new Bucket List challenges, new speed trap and speed zone leaderboards, and additional Rivals events.

Players can head online to discover awesome new content as well, including four new multilplayer Playground arenas, 20 unique online race routes, six Gauntlet events, three new Showdown events (accessible from the new Storm Island Car Meet location), and five online championship event types including Brawl, Rampage, Extreme Cross Country, Cross Country Circuit, and Mixed events, each of which contain tons of variety in terms of weather, time of day, etc.

The pack will also include five new iconic cars and trucks (see below for full descriptions of the five cars in the pack), plus a new barn find car (which we’re keeping secret for now). For players who enjoy upgrading their vehicles, we’ve also got new off-road suspension, tire, and transmission upgrades that can be applied to any of “Forza Horizon 2’s” 200+ cars. In addition, we’ve also added new rally-inspired body kit upgrades for a select number of legendary cars in game.

All of this amazing content, plus 23 new Xbox Live achievements (adding up to 500 gamerscore points to your total) makes the “Forza Horizon 2: Storm Island” expansion an amazing value for “Forza” fans.

For more on the “Forza Horizon 2: Storm Island” expansion, check out the livestream on the official “Forza Motorsport” Twitch channel, which will be beginning at 11 a.m. PT on Tuesday, Dec. 16.

 

“Forza Horizon 2: Storm Island” Car Descriptions

2013 Robby Gordon #7 Speed Energy Drink Stadium Super Truck

With 600 horsepower and enough suspension travel to absorb monstrous airtime, Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Truck was built to conquer practically any terrain. Gordon started the Stadium Super Truck series in 2012 and won its inaugural championship title in 2013. Modeled after the stadium off-road racing made famous by off-road legend Mickey Thompson, Stadium Super Trucks crash, bash, and jump their way around real-life road courses and unique arena courses. The trucks are tube frame, full-race vehicles, similar to a trophy truck. For those looking for something to slide around, catch huge air, or just simply destroy property with, the #7 is ready and waiting to take all they can dish out.

2013 MINI X-Raid All4 Racing Countryman

Since its introduction to the Dakar Rally – the most grueling off-road race in the world – the MINI X-Raid has been the most dominant vehicle in the field. With veteran driver Stephane Peterhansel – aka “Mr. Dakar” – behind the wheel in 2012, the MINI won its first Dakar. Peterhansel came back in 2013 to win again in the MINI. Both years the other three MINIs of the four-car team all placed in the top ten. Built specifically for competition in the Dakar, the MINI X-Raid is all-wheel-drive and is powered by a BMW twin-turbo diesel engine. These rigs are built to withstand the conditions of racing across a multitude of surfaces at speeds in excess of 100 mph. Players won’t find much of the production Countryman here, these ALL4 racing MINIs are bespoke chassis and drive systems. What they will find is a thrilling driving experience that’s somewhere between a world-class rally car and Baja buggy.

2014 Ford Ranger T6 Rally Raid

Ford continues its endeavors to win in off-road racing with its 2014 Dakar Rally effort in the Ranger T6 Rally Raid. Drawing on the proven expertise of South African Neal Woolridge, who beat out several American constructors for the chance to build this effort, Ford has gone to great lengths to deliver a true contender for the Dakar. Under the hood is a military dust-proofed 32-valve V8 – a la Ford Mustang – connected to a Sadev six-speed sequential transmission. The body shell resembles a Ranger four-door 4X4 but, underneath, the chassis and suspension are completely custom. Suspension travel and durability are paramount since this truck will be travelling at more than 100 mph across surfaces that most trucks would crawl over. This will be Ford’s first factory effort in the Dakar and, by the look of things, they are aiming to finish strong.

1981 Ford Fiesta XR2

The smallest of Fords was a success from the moment it was produced in 1976. While not the first front-wheel drive Ford (give that credit to the Taunus) it was the first widely-selling FWD car for the company. U.S.-bound Fiesta models were built in Germany, offering the appeal of a German-built Ford. With an attractive hot hatch look and plenty of pep, the Fiesta just begged to be tossed around. Other than sporty decals and alloy wheels, the one thing the Fiesta lacked was a performance model. Upon testing the waters with the Fiesta Supersport, Ford built the XR2 which brought a stiffened suspension and a 1.6-liter crossflow Kent engine. Given the already nimble and light base, the nearly 100 horsepower of the XR2 really got the party started. When considering this is where the Fiesta of today got its roots, it’s no wonder the XR2 looks so good against the competition.

1992 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4

A turbo-charged, four-cylinder, 4WD, four-wheel steering, four-door sedan, sold in limited numbers makes the Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 a treasured piece of JDM history. In fact, without it, the later Lancer Evo might not even exist.  The Galant VR-4 was the platform that Mitsubishi developed its impeccable AWD system and, in the process, won no less than six rally championships. It also makes for a barrel of thrills to drive. The VR-4 ignites off the line, cuts into corners, and brakes with precision. The engine develops potent horsepower put to the wheels via a center differential that detects wheel slippage and re-directs power to the axle with the most traction. Four-wheel steering engages at speeds more than 31 mph and turns the rear wheels up to 1.5 degrees to enable optimum turn angle and cornering stability. One look at the VR-4 equipped with the bull bar, the huge halogen fog lamps and roof vents and dressed in its classic Mitsubishi race livery make it obvious this car means business.

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Gaming Hype: Mazda Teams Up With Forza Horizon 2 and Xbox To Launch 2016 MX-5

Posted on 12.04.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

Mazda MX-5 and Xbox Contest

Looking forward to getting your hands on the new MX-5? Me too.  I got up close to it at the LA Auto Show but the majority of the country hasn’t had a chance to get up close and personal with the new roadster yet.  However! They can now do that virtually on Xbox One and Xbox 360.  Today Mazda announced that they are teaming up with Turn 10 Studios, Playground Games, and Xbox to promote their new roadster.

Things will kick off with a branded interactive hub that will show up on Xbox consoles in which users can virtually take a closer look at the 2016 MX-5.  From there players can enter a livery design contest via Forza Horizon 2.  Using the game’s editor players can create their own design on an older MX-5 (the ’94 model to be exact) and then submit it for the contest.  Two finalists will be chosen and sent to the South By Southwest festival next march in a “design faceoff”, the winner of which will get nearly $4k worth of prizes, including an Xbox One console, a 55 inch curved tv, audio system, and the MadCatz steering wheel for Xbox One.  The winning design will also be made available to everyone to download for free.  Also, keep in mind that this contest is open to both Xbox One and Xbox 360 users.  Scroll down for the press release which includes all the steps to entering the contest in addition to the official rules.  Good luck!

Press Release:

IRVINE, Calif., Dec. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — For the second consecutive year, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) is teaming up with Xbox, this time to promote the launch of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 and give Forza Horizon 2 players the chance to enter the Mazda MX-5 Livery Design Contest. An interactive experience with the 2016 Mazda MX-5 and information on the design contest will be available through the Mazda branded hub on Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

The Mazda MX-5 Livery Design Contest, which is now live through January 4, 2015, will give Forza Horizon 2 players the opportunity to design the livery for the 1994 Mazda MX-5 currently available in-game. Two finalists will be awarded a trip in March to South by Southwest 2015 for the final design showdown. The winner will walk away with a new 55-inch curved TV, audio music system, Xbox One Kinect console and one MadCatz Racing Wheel estimated at $3,499.95. Additionally, the winning design will be made available in Forza Horizon 2 for all Xbox One and Xbox 360 users as a free gift.

“In addition to shining the spotlight on the 2016 Mazda MX-5 through the partnership, we also wanted to give Forza fans a way to engage and pick up some cool prizes and see their work featured in the game,” said Russell Wager, vice president of marketing, MNAO. “Fans of the Mazda MX-5 are some of the most passionate enthusiasts out there and we look forward to seeing the creativity that comes from this contest.”

To enter the Mazda MX-5 Miata Livery Design Contest users must:

  • Sign into the Xbox Live service via an Xbox 360 or Xbox One console
  • Enter Forza Horizon 2, select the available 1994 Mazda MX-5 car and follow the instructions within the game to design a livery using the tools available within the game
  • Once finished, participants will be required to save their design with the name “MX5contest” and upload it to the Forza Horizon 2 storefront during the contest period
  • Entries will be accepted now through January 4, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EST

A semi-finalist judging panel, consisting of representatives from Microsoft, Mazda and Turn 10 Studios will determine up to five potential semi-finalists. All submissions will be evaluated on a 100-point scale; with an emphasis on originality (33 points max), aesthetic design (33 points max) and technical proficiency (34 points max). The semi-finalists will be posted on the Mazda hub on Xbox Live from 12:01 a.m. EST on January 26, 2015 through 11:59 p.m. EST on February 12, 2015 for the online public voting phase of the contest. The two semi-finalists with the most votes will be flown to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas where a winner will be determined by three special judges; Derek Jenkins, Mazda’s director of design, Major Nelson from Xbox Live and Forest Byrd with TC9700Gaming.

The official rules can be found on the Mazda hub on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. A second contest with Microsoft will be announced at South by Southwest 2015.

This is the second time Mazda has teamed up with Microsoft. In 2013, Mazda made history by being the first automotive manufacturer to globally reveal a vehicle, the 2014 Mazda3, in conjunction with a live concert through Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming console.

Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers. Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.  For more information on Mazda vehicles, including photography and B-roll, please visit the online Mazda media center at www.mazdausamedia.com.

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Gaming Hype: Project CARS Gets Delayed Until March 2015

Posted on 10.20.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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In today’s official “bummer” news it was announced that Project CARS from Slightly Mad Studios has been delayed until March 2015.  Originally the game was to be released for PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4 (PS4), and Wii U next month in time for the Holiday season.  However, the Wii U version was always meant to be released in 2015.  Now all the other versions will join it.  I have to say this is pretty disappointing, especially since I was really looking forward to this game after playing it at E3 this  year.

Disappointment aside there is a really puzzling aspect to this story and that is the reason given for the delay.  Remember how I mentioned that Project CARS was going to originally release next month in time for the holiday shopping season?  Well it turns out that is exactly why they decided to delay it.  Confused?  Allow me to explain.  It seems that if Slightly Mad Studios and Bandai Namco the official publisher and distributor of Project CARS are worried that with so many other games coming out during the holiday season that Project CARS will get lost in the crowd.

By pushing the release to March they believe they are giving Project CARS “the greatest chance for “success and visibility”.  Normally, I would agree with this strategy however this time I do not and I will tell you why…

Firstly, I could understand being hesitant to go up against some of the big holiday releases but given the quality, finish, and overall positive impressions of the game so far I would reckon that this game would do just fine against any other triple A video game release this year.

Second, under normal circumstances the holiday season is a tough time to release a new IP but for Project CARS this would actually be the BEST time.  Gamers who are on the look out for a racing game for Christmas this year have very slim pickings.  To date there are only 3 major racing games out for “next gen” consoles: Forza Motorsport 5, Forza Horizon 2, and DRIVECLUB.

Mostly everyone who wants Forza Motorsport 5 has it already since its a launch title,  Forza Horizon 2 is a great game and will likely pick up more steam over the holidays but its still an Xbox One exclusive so not everyone in the next gen console audience can get it and this brings us to my third reason why this delay comes at a bad time.

DRIVECLUB is the only major racing game available on Playstation 4 right now and its reviews are mediocre at best.  Many outlets find DRIVECLUB to be an average racing game that is only made better by its online components.  The problem with that is currently most if not all of DRIVECLUB’s online components are not working due to major server issues and as of now it is unclear when those issues will be fixed.

This leaves PS4-owning racing game fans with virtually nothing to choose from as its likely many of them would not want to buy a broken game.  If Project CARS went ahead as scheduled the PS4 crowd would FLOCK to it in droves!  Perhaps the sales on Xbox One would not be quite as strong since it would be going up against Forza Horizon 2 but Horizon 2 is an open world game where as Project CARS is closer to a sim like Forza Motorsport 5 but includes a few things that Forza 5 lacks such as dynamic weather and possibly a larger track selection.

To me this seems like a great opportunity missed for Project CARS but hopefully this time will be used to make the game even better than it was when I played it.  I’ll keep you posted!

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Hype Review: Forza Horizon 2. Its Back. Its Bigger. But Is It Better? SPOILER ALERT: ..Yes, Yes It Is.

Posted on 09.30.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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Its been a long time coming, but today everyone can finally get their hands on Forza Horizon 2!  First announced a short while before E3 this year, Forza fans have been waiting to sink their teeth into a brand new open world and full of bright shiny tasty cars!  So, is it everything we hoped it would be?  Is it worth the wait?  More importantly, is it worth $60?  Here is my take…

DISCLAIMER: Microsoft provided an early full copy of Forza Horizon 2 as well as a loaner Xbox One console for the purposes of this review.  Since I needed a console to play the game I have had significantly less time with the game than most of the other outlets who reviewed the game.  This is why I am doing a written review rather than my typical video review.  This review will also be a bit leaner since I did not have as much time with the game.  That being said, lets dive in!

What is Forza Horizon 2?

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Just in case you haven’t been paying attention to this website or various others for the last 6 months or so let me fill you in on what Forza Horizon is all about.  “Horizon” is a virtual music and automotive festival that usually takes place in a sprawling, scenic local, and is essentially a free-for-all to any gear head to drive their dream car in an open world in anyway they see fit.  Forza Horizon 2 greatly expands on what the first Horizon game did, specifically by moving the location from Utah to southern Europe with locations like Nice, and Sisteron.  All in all the area in which players can explore in Forza Horizon 2 is double what it was in the first Horizon game.

How does it look?

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As stated in the disclaimer I played the Xbox One version of Forza Horizon 2 and like its cousin Forza Motorsport 5, Horizon 2 seems to take full advantage of the Xbox One’s power.  The visuals are stunning.  The cars look very realistic and sharp inside and out.  I was half expecting the visual quality to be lower than that of Forza 5 but the standards were still set the same.  In some ways Forza Horizon 2 actually looks better than Forza 5 but more on that later.  Anyway, its more than just the cars that look good the environments are amazing.  Whenever I plow through a vineyard in first person view its almost like I can smell the soil and the grapes being stirred up and smashed by the car. To make things even better visually Forza Horizon 2 has dynamic weather.  This is the first and only Forza game so far with weather effects and it looks awesome!  The way the water beads on the car’s paint surface and windshield looks incredible.  The weather also realistically affects how the environments look as well.  Reflections of the car and its surroundings can be seen on wet asphalt.  Random puddles form, differences in the terrain create pools of standing water.  Once the rain stops the moisture doesn’t just magically disappear, it actually takes a while to dry off!  Because of the extra visual detail that the weather adds it actually makes the game look even better than Forza Motorsport 5 in a way. For their first time doing weather the team really knocked it out of the park!

How do the cars drive?

When the first Forza Horizon game came out many were skeptical as to how the car physics would play out.  At first glance Forza Horizon seems very much like an “arcade” style racer, which typically means very floaty loose physics meant more for forgiveness than accuracy.  The first Horizon game eased fears by using the same physics system used in Forza Motorsport.   Horizon 2 follows the tradition by keeping its physics firmly based on the simulator side although things are tweaked just a little bit to make things a little more accessible for less experienced players.  However, just like in Forza Motorsport assists can be turned off for increased realism in handling (as well as difficulty).  Additionally tuning has been expanded so that parameters can be more finely adjusted that previously allowed in the first Horizon game.  The only thing that would have made this better is if they allowed for a tune to be exported from Forza Motorsport 5 to Horizon 2.  Maybe in the next version?  Also, as I mentioned earlier the new weather system adds a whole new layer to the game’s physics.  When it starts the pour everything changes and players will have to take real care to make sure they stay in control.  This isn’t to say that as soon as it rains handling goes out the window but it does get more difficult.  Combine that with the fact that players will never know when the rain will come and you have the makings of challenging gameplay.

How many cars are there?

I wont spend too much time here since this info is pretty easy to find but there are over 210 cars available at launch with more coming via DLC in the future.  As far as the curation of the cars available trust me when I tell you all your bases are covered.  There are plenty of exotics, supercars, sports cars, classics, and cult classics to choose from.  Anyone will be hard pressed to find a car that should be in the roster but isn’t.  Its all there!

How much is there to do?

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I am just going to flat out say it now.  It will be a very long time before any player does all there is to do “officially” in Forza Horizon 2.  There are hundreds of roads and over 700 (yes 700!) events to do.  Depending on how casually one games they may not even finish it all before the next Horizon game comes out.  The possibilities are expanded even further when considering other events such as “bucket lists” (one-off events that encourage major hoonage), the return of “barn finds”, and the fact that you can challenge just about any car on the road to an impromptu street race.  That last part is even more special in Horizon 2 since this time around players deal with “drivatars” just like in Forza Motorsport 5.  Each “AI” car is literally based off the “driving personality” of another real player.  This adds a whole new dimension to not just every random street race but all the races in the game because you are always racing against drivatars.

The seamless multiplayer mode adds even more to do with open world roaming lobbies in which players can explore the world as a group and decide what they want to do and literally just do it.  The experience is much smoother, easier, and more fun.  There really is no place where single player ends and multiplayer begins, and that’s a good thing.  Everything about the events and other experiences of this game are really meant to pull players in.  Some people may even find themselves having to reserve time to go back to Forza Motorsport 5 because they will be so involved in Horizon 2.

What’s not to like?

No game is perfect and Forza Horizon 2 is no exception.  While there is a lot to love about this game there are some things I didn’t quite like.  The first is how the driveatars look.  Now that might seem like an odd statement considering drivatars use the same cars that everyone else uses but there is one key difference.  For some reason driveatars are given graphics schemes and those schemes tend to be on the tacky side.  I know this is kind of a knit pick but its just weird to see a Lamborghini Aventador with a 1992 Hot Import Nights-style checkered flag theme.  In Forza Motorsport 5 this treatment can be turned off but as far as I can tell, that option isn’t available in Forza Horizon 2.

Another thing that took some points off is the music.  Now, I am not saying the music is bad.  In fact, music is a big part of what makes the “Horizon” series what it is.  Just like in the first Horizon game there are radio stations with different genres of music that the player can choose on the fly.  The choices of music are even greater now with over 150 stations to choose from.  The problem is unlike the first Horizon game in which all the stations are available at the start, in Forza Horizon 2 only three are available and more stations are unlocked as you progress in the game.  This lead to me getting tired of the music real fast in the early hours of playing and I found myself just keeping the radio off for the most part until I unlocked more stations.

Conclusion

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Back when Forza Horizon 2 was first announced many of the hardcore fans had a lot of specific and technical questions like “how many cars will there be?”, “how much bigger is the open world?”, “can we turn on the headlights and windshield wipers?”.  I will admit that I had some of those questions myself as I waited for this game to arrive.  Yet, I can honestly say that within the first 10 minutes of playing the game none of that stuff matters anymore.  All that mattered to me was “OMG I am driving a Ferrari through a random field plowing through giant hay bales on a southern European country side and its awesome!”  I think in the end it was that feeling that Playground Games was really going for when they began to work on Forza Horizon 2.  They really did create this virtual theme park of automotive pleasures with seemingly limitless possibilities for having obnoxious fun.   That, my friends is well worth 60 bucks.  I would easily give this game a 9.5 out of 10 and recommend you go out and buy it immediately if you haven’t done so already!

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Gaming Hype: Forza Horizon 2 Demo Out Today On Xbox Live. Launch Pack DLC, VIP Membership Benefits, Car Pass Announced.

Posted on 09.16.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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Forza horizon 2 releases in just two weeks but starting today you can try it out for yourself by downloading the demo on Xbox Live.  To further entice potential Forza addicts Turn 10 studios has also announced the details of Forza Horizon VIP membership.  If that weren’t enough they also announced 8 free DLC cars that will be available at launch!  If they actually offer a kitchen sink I think I might be sold…  Anyway, lets get into the details of the goodies shall we?

First off is the 8 free DLC cars that will be available at launch.  Seriously, Forza has been giving away so many cars its like they’re Oprah (I’ve waited a long time to use that joke so make with the lol’s!).  Anyway here is the list of cars that players can get their hands on right away: 2003 Ford Focus RS, 1997 Land Rover Defender 90, 1993 Clio Williams, 2015 Ford Mustang GT, 1987 Buick Regal GNX, 2012 Cadillac Escalade ESV, 1968 Abarth 595 esseesse, 1956 Ford F-100.  A pretty eclectic mix if you ask me.  You have a hot hatch in the Focus RS, Muscle in the ’15 Mustang GT, and obscure classic in the Abarth 595 esseesse (how the heck is “esseesse” pronounced?!?!).  On paper the DLC sounds like a nice starting point to play in Forza Horizon 2’s open world.

Next up is the new VIP membership.  Since Forza Horizon is always based around a “festival” style event they are likening VIP membership as something of a “backstage pass.”  VIP membership provides access to “exclusive benefits” in Forza Horizon 2.  The first of which is a 5 car DLC pack which includes the 2012 Lamborghini Urus, 2014 Tesla Model S, 1967 Ferrari 330 P4, 1949 Mercury Coupe, and the 2013 Donkervoort D8 GTO.  VIP members also get “2x player in-game reward acceleration, access to exclusive multiplayer events, in-game gifts from the Forza community team, and special in-game recognition.”  VIP membership will set players back $19.95.  However, current Forza Motorsport 5 VIP members can buy Horizon 2 VIP membership for half off at $9.99.

If you are already firmly in the Forza Horizon 2 camp and for sure going to pick it up then you might be interested in the “Car Pass”.  This basically nets players all of the future DLC (at least 31 cars according to Turn 10) over the next six months in one pre-purchase for $24.95.  Purchase of the Car Pass will also include the 2010 Nobile M600 as a bonus exclusive car.

Whew, is that everything? Oh, wait!  Anyone who has already decided they want to buy Forza Horizon 2 and really eager to have their copy ASAP can “pre-download” it starting today.  Basically, a player would use their Xbox Live account, purchase the game as a download, download the entire game to their console, and then be given instant access to it on the release date (September 30th, 2014).

Ok, I think that covers it all.  Forza Horizon 2 is really shaping up to be a pretty big release this year.  If things work out I will give you my first hand account of Forza Horizon 2 in the form of a review.  I will keep you all posted!  In the meantime I encourage anyone curious about the game to download the demo and get a first impression!  For more info hit up the Forza Horizon 2 website.

Press Release:

Eight Free Downloadable Cars Coming to Forza Horizon 2 at Launch

Bonus DLC Car Pack bringing 2015 Mustang GT and more to game

Forza Horizon 2 is just weeks away and, soon, Forza fans the world over will be exploring the wide-open high-speed highways and breakneck back roads of southern Europe. By now, you’re probably aware that Forza Horizon 2 will ship with more than 200 amazing cars, all built from the ground up on Xbox One. Forza has always been about bringing fans the best content, whether that’s world debut cars like Roll-Royce Wraith or track add-ons like Long Beach, Road America, and the Nürburgring.

As is the case with all Forza games, we’ll constantly be updating Forza Horizon 2 with fresh new content. Beginning on Sept. 30 to coincide with the release of Forza Horizon 2, we’ll be launching a brand new pack for the game: the Forza Horizon 2 Launch Bonus Car Pack. This car pack will feature eight cars representing the awesome variety that can be found in the Forza Horizon 2 car roster – from rough-and-tumble trucks like the 1956 Ford F-100 to the raw power represented by the 2015 Ford Mustang GT. The Launch Bonus Pack will include three never-before-seen vehicles in the Forza franchise: the 2003 Ford Focus RS, the 1997 Land Rover Defender 90, and the 1993 Clio Williams. Best of all, all eight of the cars featured in the Launch Bonus Car Pack will be available to all Forza Horizon 2 players at launch for no additional cost.

Here’s the full list of cars in the Launch Bonus Car Pack:

  • 2003 Ford Focus RS
  • 1997 Land Rover Defender 90
  • 1993 Clio Williams
  • 2015 Ford Mustang GT
  • 1987 Buick Regal GNX
  • 2012 Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • 1968 Abarth 595 esseesse
  • 1956 Ford F-100

In addition to the Launch Bonus Car Pack, today we’re also announcing the details for Forza Horizon 2 VIP membership (discounted for current Forza Motorpsort 5 VIPs) and the Forza Horizon 2 Car Pass. As in Forza Motorsport 5, each purchased add-on car can be added to your in-game garage one time for free – without additional in-game credits.

VIP Membership

Forza Horizon 2 VIP Membership (regular $19.99; 50 percent off or $9.99 for Forza Motorsport 5 VIP members) is like a backstage pass at the Horizon Festival, giving you access to cool content you can only get here. VIP members will receive exclusive benefits in Forza Horizon 2, including the VIP Car Pack, featuring five cars (four of which are brand new to the Forza franchise). These five cars include the 2012 Lamborghini Urus, 2014 Tesla Model S, 1967 Ferrari 330 P4, 1949 Mercury Coupe, and the 2013 Donkervoort D8 GTO. VIP membership also awards with 2x player in-game reward acceleration, access to exclusive multiplayer events, in-game gifts from the Forza community team, and special in-game recognition. Current Forza Motorsport 5 VIPs receive a $10 discount on digital purchases of Forza Horizon 2 VIP membership or any Forza Horizon 2 digital offer that includes VIP membership. (Note that this discount only applies to digital offers of Forza Horizon 2.)

Car Pass

The Forza Horizon 2 Car Pass ($24.99) gets you access to six monthly pack add-ons beginning in October, with each pack featuring five amazing cars. That’s six monthly car packs for the price of five! Plus, Car Pass owners will receive an exclusive bonus car for free: the 2010 Noble M600. That’s 31 cars to collect, race, and customize in Forza Horizon 2! Look for more details on the first monthly car pack for Forza Horizon 2 coming soon!

Demo/Pre-Download Available Now

We’ve saved the best for last: the Forza Horizon 2 demo for Xbox One is here! Starting today you can download the demo for the game on Xbox Live and get a tantalizing taste for the game we’ll all be playing starting on Sept. 30. In addition the game is now available for pre-order at your local retailer and for pre-order/pre-download in the Xbox Store.

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Gaming Hype: Forza Horizon 2 Demo Coming Next Month

Posted on 08.27.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

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Despite how packed it seemed to me when I was there, only a small fraction of the planet’s population got to attend the E3 expo or Gamescom this year and thus far those were the only times when Forza Horizon 2 was available to play to the somewhat general public.  However, that is about to change!  It was announced today that a Forza Horizon 2 demo is coming next month!  Yes!  Finally, many more people will get to enjoy driving through a grassy field in a brand new Lamborghini Huracan!  The demo will be available on Xbox Live on September 16th.  Unfortunately, despite the fact that when the game releases on September 30th it will be available for both Xbox One and Xbox 360 the demo next month will only be on Xbox One.  If you already have an Xbox One then you’re set!  If not then well, you’ll have to wait a bit longer before you get a chance to play; OR you can find a friend who has an Xbox One and go play at their house!

Right now we don’t know what cars will be available in the demo but I would not be surprised if it was the same offering of cars offered at the E3 demo with a few added extras.  If you do get to play the demo and are unsure if you want to pick up the game or if you miss out on the demo completely hopefully our review will help you come to a decision!  Stay tuned!

[Source: Microsoft]

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Gaming Hype: Forza Horizon 2’s Social Features Detailed In New Video

Posted on 08.13.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

Forza_Horizon_2_Driving_Social_Video

Today, the world got a bit more insight as to just how social Forza Horizon 2 will be once its released this September (9-30-14 to be exact).  Playground Games, the studio behind Forza Horizon 2 released a video for Gamescom (think of it as a European E3) which detailed some of Horizon 2’s social features and how they will be integrated into the different game modes.  After watching the video it appears that Playground Games really wants to make it easy for players to connect with their friends no matter what mode they are in.  It will be easy for players to find out what their friends are doing, contact their friends, and play with their friends from just about any screen in the game.  The video also provides a few more details on the in-game “Car Meets” and how that will change the way players browse tunes and paint schemes.  There have also been tweaks to enhance popular multiplayer modes like “King” and “Infected”.

To get a full rundown of how the social features work just watch the video below!

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Hype Video: Forza Motorsport Profiles Quadriplegic Racer Mario Bonfante Jr’s Inspirational Journey

Posted on 08.06.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

Forza5Story_MarioBonfonteJr No matter what we do, we never really know what will happen to us tomorrow.  You could have the best laid plans ever and do everything right to realize the goals of those plans and then something completely out of your control can happen at a moment’s notice and potentially turn all of those plans on its head.  I use the word “potentially” because it is really up to you if you will let the hand of fate disrupt your dreams and goals.  Mario Bonfante Jr is someone who did not let fate deter him from what he wanted. Mario always wanted to race and in his early years his weapon of choice was anything with two wheels.  He graduated from BMX racing to Motocross and from Motocross he moved onto cycle racing where he quickly established himself as the next American Moto GP prospect.  Unfortunately, Mario injured his neck while riding a bicycle and became quadriplegic as a result.

However, he did not let that stop him.  Now, Mario is not the first person to overcome a disability to make it in motorsports.  Military Veteran Liam Dwyer suffered a horrific injury in combat and lost part of his left leg but he over came that to become a Mazda MX-5 cup racer.  There is also the famous story of Alex Zanardi who lost both legs in a Champ Car accident but came back to racing with BMW in touring cars.  However, what makes Mario different is that he literally engineered his return to racing himself!  I won’t spoil it for you here because you really should watch the video below to see how he did it!  I will say that Forza Motorsport was involved in his return to racing in a really cool way.

 

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Gaming Hype: One Of One Forza Horizon 2 Yellow Xbox One Console Up For Grabs At 2014 Comic-Con

Posted on 07.23.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

ForzaHorizon2_YellowXboxOne_small

Tomorrow scores of “nerds” “geeks” and the like will descend upon San Diego for 2014 Comic-Con.  Over the years Comic-Con has morphed into an event that was strictly about the comics into a full-on celebration of all things pop culture.  That’s why these days its not uncommon for video game studios and companies to make an appearance.  This year Xbox is adding a bit of artistic flair to their Comic-Con presence with a contest in which the winners can get limited one-of-one versions of an Xbox One console themed after some of their major titles.  One of which is the bright “Lamborghini Huracan Yellow” console you see above!

How do you win?  Well if you happen to be in San Diego this week just visit the Xbox One lounge in the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel and find the display which has all the limited design consoles.  Take a picture of your favorite one and post it to Instagram and/or Twitter with the hashtags “#XboxOne” and “#XboxSweeps” and you will be officially entered.  Microsoft will pick from those entrants and someone will win the console they took a picture of!

Not only is this cool, but its one more reason why I am super bummed that I can’t make it out to Comic-Con!  Good luck to those who enter!

[Source: Forza Motorsport Twitter, Xbox Events]

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Gaming Hype: First 100 Cars In Forza Horizon 2 Revealed! (OFFICIAL)

Posted on 07.22.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

ForzaHorizon2_Official_CarList_small

One of the most commonly asked questions when Forza Horizon 2 was announced, and then debuted at E3 2014 was “how many cars will there be?”  Despite my best efforts I was unable to get an exact number out of Ralph Fulton, the game director.  However, it looks like today the team at Playground Games and Turn 10 are ready to spill the beans!  Well, most of them anyway.  They have officially released a list of the first 100 cars that will be in Forza Horizon 2, some of which are completely new to a Horizon game as you will see below.  If you look closely at the “poster” above (click on the thumbnail of it below for an HD sized version) you can see that there is room for at least another 85 cars or so.  Chances are as we get closer to Horizon 2’s release those cars will be revealed as well!

In the meantime check out the list of the first 100 rides!  You can also click on the thumbnails for larger pics.

JaguarXK120_WM_CarReveal_Week1_ForzaHorizon2 JeepWillys_WM_CarReveal_Week1_ForzaHorizon2 RenaultAlpine_WM_CarReveal_Week1_ForzaHorizon2 VauxhallCorsa_WM_CarReveal_Week1_ForzaHorizon2 VolkswagenType2_WM_CarReveal_Week1_ForzaHorizon2

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Never before seen cars:

-1973 Renault Alpine A110 1600S
-2009 Vauxhall Corsa VXR
-1945 Jeep Willys MB
-1962 Volkswagen Type 2 De Luxe (23 window!!)
-1954 Jaguar XK120 SE

Full 100 car list:

1.       2002 Acura RSX Type-S

2.       2007 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

3.       2011 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde

4.       1986 Alfa Romeo Spider Quadrifoglio Verde

5.       1964 Aston Martin DB5

6.       2010 Aston Martin One-77

7.       2012 Aston Martin Vanquish

8.       2013 Audi R8 Coupé V10 plus 5.2 FSI quattro

9.       1995 Audi RS 2 Avant

10.   2006 Audi RS 4

11.   2011 Audi RS 5 Coupé

12.   2013 Audi S4

13.   1997 BMW M3

14.   1991 BMW M3

15.   2012 BMW M5

16.   2011 BMW X5 M

17.   1990 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

18.   1979 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

19.   2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

20.   1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS-454

21.   2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

22.   2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

23.   1995 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1

24.   1964 Chevrolet Impala SS 409

25.   1970 Dodge Challenger R/T

26.   2012 Dodge Charger SRT8

27.   1957 Ferrari 250 California

28.   1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

29.   1994 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta

30.   2012 Ferrari F12berlinetta

31.   2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia

32.   2013 Ferrari LaFerrari

33.   1980 Abarth Fiat 131

34.   2010 Abarth 500 esseesse

35.   2013 Abarth Punto Supersport

36.   2009 Ford Focus RS

37.   1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302

38.   2000 Ford SVT Cobra R

39.   1993 Ford SVT Cobra R

40.   1987 Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500

41.   2011 Ford Transit SuperSportVan

42.   1997 Honda Civic Type R

43.   2006 HUMMER H1 Alpha

44.   2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track

45.   1956 Jaguar D-Type

46.   1961 Jaguar E-type S1

47.   1954 Jaguar XK120 SE

48.   1945 Jeep Willys MB

49.   2011 Koenigsegg Agera

50.   1997 Lamborghini Diablo SV

51.   2014 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4

52.   1982 Lancia 037 Stradale

53.   2013 Lexus GS350 F Sport

54.   2010 Lexus LFA

55.   1956 Lotus Eleven

56.   2012 Lotus Exige S

57.   2010 Maserati Gran Turismo S

58.   1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata

59.   2011 Mazda RX-8 R3

60.   2013 McLaren P1

61.   2013 Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG

62.   2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series

63.   2009 Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series

64.   2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG

65.   2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

66.   1965 MINI Cooper S

67.   1999 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI GSR

68.   2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR

69.   2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR

70.   2010 Nissan 370Z

71.   1969 Nissan Fairlady Z 432

72.   1994 Nissan Fairlady Z Version S Twin Turbo

73.   2000 Nissan Silvia Spec-R

74.   1971 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R

75.   1993 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec

76.   2012 Pagani Huayra

77.   2009 Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster

78.   1969 Pontiac GTO Judge

79.   1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SD-455

80.   1987 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GTA

81.   1973 Renault Alpine A110 1600S

82.   2003 Renault Sport Clio V6

83.   2010 Renault Megane RS 250

84.   2011 RUF Rt 12 S

85.   1965 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C

86.   1998 Subaru Impreza 22B STi

87.   2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

88.   2011 Subaru WRX STI

89.   1994 Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205

90.   2013 Toyota GT86

91.   1995 Toyota MR2 GT

92.   2005 TVR Sagaris

93.   2012 Vauxhall Astra VXR

94.   2009 Vauxhall Corsa VXR

95.   2013 SRT Viper GTS

96.   1992 Volkswagen Golf Gti 16v Mk2

97.   2010 Volkswagen Golf R

98.   1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI

99.   2011 Volkswagen Scirocco R

100.   1963 Volkswagen Type 2 De Luxe

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