Horizon Chase 2 Review

Marketed as arcade racing for everyone, Horizon Chase 2 is the latest entry in a series that aims to bring the thrill and competitive spirit of old-school racing games from the 80s and 90s to the current generation of gaming. After initially releasing on the Switch and PC, Horizon Chase 2 has now made its way over to the PlayStation and Xbox families of consoles and supports cross-platform play, so you won’t be limited to racing against people on the same platform. I can’t imagine there will be too many differences between versions of the game, but for the sake of clarity, the version I’ll be reviewing is for the PS5.

I’ve reviewed a couple of racing games before, and I’ll admit that the ones that I’ve enjoyed the most have been the arcade-style racers like Hot Wheels Unleashed, so what drew me to Horizon Chase 2 was its bright design and high-speed gameplay.

 

Graphics and Sound

The first thing I want to say about Horizon Chase 2 is that it looks great. I didn’t go into the game looking for the hyper-realistic graphics found in a game like Gran Turismo or Forza. That would be unreasonable – it’s just not that sort of game, and it doesn’t try to be. Instead, Horizon Chase 2 seeks to carve out its own place in the ever-growing offering of racing games, and it does that by delivering its own unique brand of charm. From the design of the cars to the tracks themselves, its fresh, flashy graphics and vibrant colours make the game really pop.

There’s a lot of variation too. A lot of work has been put into making each track both look and feel different from the track before, especially when you move from country to country. Weather effects were also used well throughout the game, with things like rain and sandstorms reducing visibility for that added level of immersion.

On top of the showy graphics, fans of the series will be pleased to know that a fun, playful soundtrack from Barry Leitch, who also created the soundtrack for the first game, will leave you humming its upbeat tones long after you’ve shut down your console.

 

Gameplay

The controls in Horizon Chase 2 are easy to learn and more difficult to master. It’s a game that is supposed to be fun, so all you really need to do is press down the accelerator. Of course, there are a few instances where you’ll need to ease up if you don’t want to crash, and other times where you’ll want to use up one of your nitro boosts to push yourself ahead, but it’s easy enough to come to grips with.

In most cases, its gameplay is pretty forgiving, almost guiding you through turns so you barely even need to slow down. Even if you do crash or clip a corner, you won’t lose too much speed, so a few mistakes here and there aren’t enough to make you lose out on that coveted first place in offline races. It’s the timed trials where you really need to get serious. With every second counting, one small mistake can mean the difference between first place and not ranking at all.

As you race, you’ll collect coins which, along with the experience points from ranking in the top three, allow you to upgrade your cars. You can upgrade your suspension, air intake, differentials, gearbox, and nitro boost to improve your performance. You can also customise your cars with a selection of paint jobs and rims, though the customisation options aren’t as extensive as in some other racing games I’ve played. However, I’m not someone who wants to spend hours customising the perfect car. I just wanted to jump straight into the action, so this wasn’t a big deal for me.

 

Game Modes

Like many racing games, Horizon Chase 2 uses a World Tour Mode to create the feeling of progression and keep players hooked. There are 66 tracks across six countries, and these are split into standard races with a couple of timed trials. As you progress through the World Tour, you’ll unlock new cars, gameplay modes, and get a fair few achievements thrown your way.

Playground Mode is where you’ll find all your multiplayer matches and challenges, the latter of which change frequently to provide that bit of replayability. It’s good fun. Since cross-platform play is supported, I never had to wait too long to find a match, but if local multiplayer is more your thing, the game also supports split-screen. To gain access to the online content, I had to link to my Epic Games account, so if you don’t have one, you’ll have to make one. This was a little annoying, but it wasn’t a huge deal because once the account is linked, you won’t have to bother with it again.

The last mode to touch upon is the Tournaments Mode. This is essentially a quick mode that allows you to jump into a series of quick races. It’s a good selection, but nothing that really breaks the mould. A little more depth would have been good, but it’s still a fun way to pass an evening.

 

Final Thoughts

So, is Horizon Chase 2 really arcade racing for everyone?

I’d say yes.

With its vibrant graphics, high-speed gameplay, and a playful soundtrack that elicits the charm of classic racing games, it appeals to a wide audience. Its easy-to-learn controls, forgiving gameplay, and various upgrade options make it accessible and enjoyable for players of all ages and skill levels. The game offers substantial content through its World Tour Mode, engaging multiplayer options, and quick tournaments, ensuring plenty of replayability. 

While some minor annoyances like the Epic Games login requirement exist, the overall experience is a fun and nostalgic ride that both new and old fans of the genre will appreciate.

Developer: Aquiris

Publisher: Epic Games

Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch

Release Date: 30th May 2024

The copy of Horizon Chase 2 was provided to Gaming Respawn by the publisher.

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