STAFF REVIEW of Horizon Chase 2 (Xbox One)

Tuesday, June 11, 2024.
by Adam Dileva

Horizon Chase 2 Box art Horizon Chase Turbo was a great racer that released back in 2018 that was quite enjoyable. It’s been a number of years, but now its long awaited sequel gets a release on Xbox for returning fans. Horizon Chase 2 brings what you’d want in sequel; improved visuals, a slick soundtrack, and fast paced drifting racing we’ve come to expect. If you were ever a fan of classic OutRun or Top Gear, you’ll know exactly what to expect from its gameplay. Feeling like a game coming out of the 90’s, Horizon Chase 2 is an arcade racer that has you racing at high speed on tracks from across the globe. You can play a campaign, tournaments, or even local or online multiplayer, including cross platform play. You’re aiming to come in first in each race, and while the first few races will be simple, they'll eventually become more challenging and fun as you upgrade your garage of unlocked vehicles.

World Tour is the campaign mode where you’ll spend the majority of your time. Completing the career mode will only take a handful of hours, but there’s just enough replayability that you’ll probably have to go back to a few of the races or time trials if you’re striving for 100% completion. You’ll be racing across the world, from the USA, Brazil, Italy, Morocco, Thailand and Japan with over 60 tracks.

Each country is made of three different segments, each consisting of a half dozen races or so. The earlier tracks begin out simple with wide roads and not as many turns, later becoming much more narrow and winding. They are a stereotypical version of what you’d expect from each, and while the color pallets and backgrounds may change, you’ll be so focused on any upcoming corners that it’ll be challenging to appreciate as you speed to the finish in races that last a mere few minutes.

Races will have different times of day and varied weather. While the tracks themselves don’t change - the majority being circuit laps (usually three or four) there’s also the odd point A to B race which changed things up just a little bit. There will also usually be a Time Trial in each segment where you’ll have to put your racing skills to the real test, collecting every nitro and hitting every boost if you’re to make the par time.

While there are a number of cars to unlock as you progress, you’ll begin with a choice of just a few. Each vehicle has a different style (racer, muscle, SUV, hatchback, etc) and their own stats. Given that the majority of Horizon Chase 2’s racing is about high speeds and drifting corners, I opted for the vehicle that had the best handling to start out with, the Hatchback that resembles a Yaris or something similar. Sadly the vehicles aren't licensed at all, but it's pretty obvious which real world car brought the inspiration.

Placing in the top few spots will allow you to progress, and on each race there’s a number of blue coins you can collect. Given that the overall content can be a bit light, focusing on trying to 100% each race is where the value comes in. Your reflexes are going to have to be up to par, as those corners come fast and furious. Wide roads that are about four or five lanes wide make for an easy drift and cornering, becoming much more challenging when only two lanes wide and trying to pass an opponent. Get knocked off the track and you’ll lose all your speed and crash for a moment, just like classic OutRun.

Make sure you don’t lose focus, as one mistake can cost you pole position. You’ll have a few Nitro’s you can use that will push your car beyond its normal max speed, great for passing opponents at a straightaway. I found though that the first or second place CPU would boost just as you start to catch up to them, so it's generally best to let them get ahead for a bit, then boost to overtake on a straight stretch. The majority of the time you’ll simply be holding the throttle down the whole time, though if you’re close to crashing out or missing a turn, you can let go of the gas for a moment. I don’t think I actually used the brake at all now that I'm reflecting. Simply go fast as you can all the time.

As you win races you’ll earn XP, level up, and get to choose an upgrade to permanently boost your vehicle. Each upgrade will have you racing faster, adding another boost, increasing acceleration or handling. At level 10 your car will be fully increased, though each car will have slightly different maximum stats. While the upgrades of your cars are good and all, the customization is what I enjoyed more. You can unlock new body kits, paint colors and rims. You’ll have to spend coins earned to unlock these, which gives you more to work towards, and each car has their own unlocks. There’s only about three body kits per car, a few colors to choose, and rims unlock by completing challenges and Time Trials. It takes quite a grind to earn enough coins to unlock everything, even for one car, so if you want to earn everything for every vehicle, it’s going to take quite some time. I do wish there were more options, as it's a bit light on content.

With online and local multiplayer, you’ll be able to play against your friends, or anyone, regardless of where they are or which platform. Other than career mode, you also have Tournament and Playground mode. Tournament mode is just that, four back to back races of varying difficulty, some of which are actually quite challenging.

Playground is basically what they call their online mode. Here you can race other players online, regardless of platform they play on, as well as some really difficult challenges, like only crashing a certain amount of times, not collecting the blue coins, and other ways to slightly change how you’d normally race. With rotating challenges, there will be new events to look forward to long term.

Horizon Chase 2 is quite colorful, more so than the original game. It has an almost cel-shaded look to it and each country is quite bright and unique. The speed is quite fast and I never had any issues with it all trying to keep up on a Series X. Barry Leitch returns for another great upbeat soundtrack and the sound effects of tires screeching never gets old as you drift at full speed.

While the World Tour may not take long to reach the finish line, there’s enough challenge to try and get 100% completion if you want to collect everything. While I could see myself going back now and then for the online challenges, it may not have the most longevity and replayability, but Horizon Chase 2 was still a fun and stylish sprint to the finish line.

**Horizon Chase 2 was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.3 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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