With the theatrical release of Furious 7 on the 2nd of April, Universal Studios have recognised a marketing potential by teaming up with Playground Games to release Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious, a standalone expansion to arguably the best driving game of 2014. While it can be best described as “Forza Horizon 2-lite”, the minor tweaks made in the expansion shows potential for a story-focused game within the Forza Universe.
The storyline is straightforward: Tej, the technical expert played by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, is in need of a line-up of cars for his crew. He heard about you dominating the Horizon Festival circuit and decided to get you in on the action to help him “acquire” said cars. This is Fast & Furious folks, they are not about to win Oscars anytime soon for their story-writing.
There are a total of 11 pre-tuned cars to acquire, each with challenges and races to complete. Most of the cars require winning two races/challenges; the first to get the car owner’s attention, and the second to race for “pink slips”. Although the game progression mechanic feels more story-friendly than the “complete four races, drive to next town” routine Forza Horizon 2 adopted, the thread tying the story to the gameplay is still very flimsy and uninteresting.
The introduction of the nitrous feature, however, is definitely far from boring: in order to tie-in with the street-racing vibe of the Fast & Furious franchise, each car you own is modified to have a full tank of nitrous oxide for boost. Every time you use the boost, it rockets your car into oblivion and blurs the edges of your screen for that sensation of high speed. Unfortunately, the nitrous feature does not carry into the free roam component of the game, which baffles me – the one feature that makes the expansion different is restricted to the three to four minute races that you take part in, which doesn’t really scratch the boy-racer itch that I get playing the game.
All other aspects of the Fast & Furious expansion seem to be a microcosm of the full Forza Horizon 2 game; it operates on a small portion of the map and lacks the ability for you to level up, purchase cars, and modify said cars. That being said, the stripped down version complies with the movie tie-in role nicely and gives players enough to entice them to play the full game.
Every time you use the boost, it rockets your car into oblivion
The expansion lasts a good two to three hours, and I am being generous here. But for a something that is free (until April 10th), I was happy to spend a handful of hours on without much investment. What the Fast & Furious standalone does do, however, is open the door for developer Playground Games (or another Microsoft studio) to potentially add a third full version, story-centric Forza game with an RPG element to the Forza line-up. A rotating trio of Forza Motorsport, Horizon, and Fast & Furious games, á la the Call of Duty franchise, sounds intriguing and would be a great win for Microsoft.
Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious is a worthy expansion, especially when it is free until April 10th. If you have interest in buying Forza Horizon 2 but still unsure, this really does give you a good, albeit a slightly skewed glimpse. For those like myself who have played the full game extensively, it does not add much other than a few hours and an easy 1000 gamerscore. Hopefully, this is the inception of another great, more story-driven series for the Forza franchise.