I heart the Forza Horizon series

It’s funny, I would never actually race a car. I’d be too afraid of the consequences – like scratching up the bumper or, ya know, dying in in a fire.

But I LOVE car racing games. Specifically, I love the Forza Horizon series.

Right now, for Gold Members, Xbox is giving away Forza Horizon 2 10th Anniversary Edition. and it is definitely worth downloading. I just went and started up my old game to see if it still held up after all these years and was immediately sucked into racing for 90 minutes, completing championships, racing a crop duster, and taking pictures of cars for easy credits.

I purchased Forza Horizon 3 when it came out, and it takes everything from the first two games and makes it better and then puts you in Australia. The open world in all three games means you can just cruise around and enjoy the scenery, “collecting” roads, going through speed traps, and finding XP billboards.

It’s not all just fast, shiny cars. Driving around, you discover “barn finds”, rare and classic vehicles that are hidden throughout the world. Once discovered, they are repaired so you can drive them and most of them are about style more than speed. I just did a retro hatchback championship and drove a car that was only slightly younger than I am, could maybe hit 100 if I was on a long, open stretch of road. The next championship I signed up for was for Hypercars and I used my credits to buy a Bugatti and now my brain can’t process driving at 200 mph down the tiny Italian roads! The variety of races and car types means you can pretty much play these games forever.

But each time they put out a new one, it is hard to resist the latest features. Forza Horizon 4 will have seasons that change weekly, meaning that the races and challenges available will change each week too.

I mean, just LOOK at this video (from my favorite YouTube gamers on Outside Xbox)

Oh, and the in-game radio stations are not too bad either! I mean, after you’ve played for 6 hours, they can get a little repetitive, but if you change them up enough, there is always something good for driving (or you can always turn them off and have Spotify running in the background since Xbox has an app for that).

So, if you have Games with Gold, do yourself a favor and download this one! And if you have an Xbox One and like racing, I’d definitely recommend any titles from this fantastic series!

quick thoughts: Dragon Age Inquisition

Meet Allora! She’s my Dalish Elf Rogue in Dragon Age Inquisition.

I’ve managed to log several hours in DAI now and the size of this game is a bit overwhelming. I feel like the Bioware team spent the last few years playing through the Bethesda games after they were finished crying over all the ME3 hatemail and trying to figure out how to top themselves. At times, I worry the game is too big, that it took too many pages from the Oblivion/Skyrim gamer’s guide instead of just being a Dragon Age game. We will see how I feel once the story is over.

So far, I’m really enjoying the game. There are a few things I’m not quite sure they changed (um…being able to choose stats? wha?) and a few things I’m underwhelmed by (I can’t get excited about crafting items, feels too much like work) but overall I’m having fun. I’ve died a LOT but the world is so open that it’s easy to just walk away from an area for awhile and level up a bit before facing it all again.

***SPOILERS BELOW THIS LINE****

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gaming thoughts: Assassin’s Creed Unity

I finally have a game for my Xbox One and it’s one of the buggiest releases ever, or so the Internet would have you believe. Honestly, Ubisoft did a good job of patching a lot of the gameplay issues as quickly as they could. Yes, if I was a hardcore AC fan who was up at midnight and ready to power through memory sequence after memory sequence, I probably would have been perturbed. But as a casual fan of the series, I haven’t come up with any game stopping moments (er, except when the game wouldn’t load, but that seemed to be one of the quickest issues dealt with in the weekend patch).

ANYWAY, as far as gameplay goes, AC:U doesn’t feel that different from ACII or Black Flag. Lots of running, jumping and then jumping over your actual destination. If you have played AC games before, it’s very easy to pick up and get going – maybe too easy as you can find yourself getting distracted by collecting quests immediately since all the chests and collectible items appear on your map as soon as you start the game up.

The game is VERY open. It’s easy to wander into a quest that is far beyond your ability. The game gives you a heads up that you might want to upgrade your equipment but it doesn’t stop you from attempting the side quest if you really want to try. The missions are what you would expect – assassinations, puzzle solving, and stealthy thievery. I really enjoyed the first two Nostradamus riddle sequences I solved, a nice change of pace from all the stabbing.

There are lots of ways to earn points here and there. The game is generous with handing out “creed” points, which are used for upgrading equipment. You can earn them by hiding or using a quick lift. You can also earn them by stopping fights, killing enemies, and tackling a thief. (Thieves in this game are MUCH slower than in previous games! Not sure if that was on purpose of a glitch or if they will get smarter once I’ve tackled 30 of them).

There is also the notorious Companion App, AC Initiates, and Uplay – part of Ubisoft’s online program that is meant to link you to your other games and reward you. Sadly, the Companion app seems to be the only one that works right. AC Initiates and Uplay have had issues linking all weekend and I know I’m not getting any credit for the time spent with previous AC titles. The Companion app can be loaded onto a phone or tablet and you have a “nomad” group of assassins that can be sent on missions, which when completed unlock in-game chests and missions. There is a “premium” version of the app that can be purchases for $2 but…let’s face it, I just spent $60 on the game (well, not me personally, since my copy came with the Xbox One) but it seems sort of rude to expect me to pay MORE to access features in the game. But if you’re a completist and need 100% of the achievements, you will probably cave and pay so you can unlock all the chests.

The game is fun, I’ve been enjoying myself running around London Paris (it’s hard to remember that I’m in FRANCE since everyone speaks with a cockney accent…WTF?). Arno is not as charming as Ezio; he’s less of a rogue and more of a scoundrel, if that makes any sense. The main campaign story is interesting enough to keep me playing and the side quests have been enjoyable enough to make me want to spend a couple hours completing them.

It will keep me amused until my copy of Dragon Age Inquisition arrives next week. Then…well, if you don’t hear from me after that, you’ll know I’m lost in Fereldon. But for now I will help the French peasants survive the first few days of the revolution.