The Fast & Furious expansion for Forza Horizon 2 is a bit of an oddity. It came out the week before last and it’s a completely free expansion… but not really. It can be played as a stand-alone game and although it’s free for now, that ends on April 10th, at which point the game jumps to a £7.99 ($10) price point.
I say it’s an oddity because we’ve never really seen something like this. It’s more or less a cross-promotional game, but the handful of those we’ve had in the past have been free for the entirety of their availability. And if we’re being honest, they’ve mostly felt like an excuse for a major company to slap their name on a product completely irrelevant to their brand. The Fast & Furious expansion breaks from both of those traditions by offering something that’s only free for the launch window of Furious 7, and it exists in the Forza Horizon universe, which is a very appropriate place for anything Fast & Furious related.
Microsoft is calling it an “original adventure” but that’s a bit of stretch. There is a very loose story behind your objective but it really just boils down to acquiring ten different vehicles themed after the cars seen in the movie. You do have Tej Parker – voiced by Ludacris – in your ear for most of the game but he spends the majority of his time barking at you to move to the next objective. Getting each car usually requires you to win a race, but there are also setup objectives that have to be completed before you get a shot at challenging the car’s current owner to a face-off for the pink slip.
The setting for the game is France, and it covers a slightly smaller section of the same area available in Forza Horizon 2, so there’s not much new to see here in terms of scenery. Having said that, there is still plenty to do. Acquiring all ten cars takes a shade under two hours, and many of the other objectives found in the original game are available here, such as the speed cameras, drivatar support, bucket list objectives, and both private and public lobbies to tool around in with your friends and/or strangers.
Visually, it looks and feels exactly like Forza Horizon 2, and that’s not a bad thing. The full day/night cycle comes along, as does the weather system, all of which adds to an already great looking game that performs very well. While I’m not a huge fan of arcade racers I can still objectively say the game handles pretty well for what it is. The vehicle mechanics will feel very familiar to anyone who played the original game, as the cars are still slippery and easy to drift with, but remain consistent in how they grip the road, with each car handling just a little bit different than the last.
Speaking of the cars, that might be the high point for any fans of the movies that are looking to check this out. You start and end the main story with the same vehicle, a 1970 Dodge Charger R/T, a car that’s become an icon in the films since the conclusion of the first movie. There’s also a 1998 Toyota Supra, also iconic since the first movie, though it’s missing the orange paint scheme you’ll recognize. In total, there are around a dozen ‘themed’ cars in the game, all of which hark back to the movies in a faithful way.
Overall, I quite enjoyed my time with this game, despite not particularly getting on with Forza Horizon 2 the first time around. I played the demo, and although I don’t really enjoying the kind of racer Forza Horizon tries to be, I wished I could spend just a little more time with it without dropping money on the full game. This little experience proved to be exactly what I was looking for, and although £7.99 might be a stretch for what’s being offered here, the very reasonable price of free makes it about as easy a recommendation as I’ve ever made.
Going back to where we started, it’s hard to know exactly where this expansion fits in the cross-promotion game universe. Granted, we don’t have a lot to compare it to, but it really feels like it’s in a league of its own. It does a good job of promoting both Forza Horizon 2 and The Fast and Furious franchise without cramming either of them down your throat. There is branding on the load screens for the movie franchise, but aside from that and a montage of scenes from the movie to start the game, that’s really about it. There are also a couple of prompts to buy the full version of Forza Horizon 2 in the pause menus and at the end of the game, but none of it felt intrusive.
Ultimately, I feel pretty good saying that this is a big step in the right direction for this type of promotion. The Doritos games that came out on Xbox 360 felt odd because they had absolutely nothing to do with their brand. They were just games Frito-Lay held a competition for and slapped the Doritos name on. The fast car and adrenaline-fueled lifestyle seen in the Fast & Furious movies feels perfectly at home in the Forza Horizon universe, and I feel confident that Universal couldn’t have made such a quality product without the help of a studio with a long track record of creating great racing games. If this is the future for free cross-promotional products, count me in. I’m just not sure how many more of these we’ll see.