I love Forza Horizon 2. It's just a perfect non-sim racing game, filling a spot left open last year by a lack of Need for Speed. I wouldn't say that it's the reason to pick up an Xbox One, but the game is definitely high on my list of exclusives. The Storm Island DLC made it even better, adding a new overcast zone to roll around in.
So I was happy to hear that more Forza Horizon 2 is coming, but with a twist. The next DLC for the game is Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious. Yes, the movie franchise. The small expansion includes 11 new cars inspired by the series and Ludacris guiding you along as the voice of Tej Parker, the Fast crew's mechanic. The DLC is standalone, so if you don't have Forza Horizon 2, here's your chance to see what the fuss is all about. From March 27 to April 10, Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious is free to download to promote the April 3 release of Furious 7; after that it'll cost you $10.
"Forza is synonymous with racing and fun, so it's only natural for us to work with one of the most celebrated action franchises in the world," said Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox in the company's release. "This is a great way to bring Forza players into the world of 'Fast & Furious,' and in Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious, every fan will get a chance to go wheels-first into the exciting action of the 'Fast & Furious' franchise."
I love the Fast franchise in a completely unironic way. The first film is a competent remake of Point Break and the second presents the beautiful Top Gun-style homoerotic love between undercover cops Brian O'Conner and Roman Pearce. Tokyo Drift is an utter mess with some good racing scenes, while Fast & Furious is forgettable, serving only to bring a character back into the fold.
Then Fast Five came along and turned the series into something else: the last bastion of old-school action films, taking place in a world that obeys the rules of superhero comics, not reality. Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6 (the studio can't stick with a single naming scheme) are more like Brocean's Eleven, elaborate and unrealistic heist films. They're so amazing that they make the rest of the series retroactively worth buying; turning it from guilty pleasure to pure pleasure. I say this because I own the entire film series on Blu-Ray.
Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious might be the best Fast game ever created. The series doesn't have the best gaming history with an arcade game, a PlayStation 2 release, Fast & Furious: Showdown for consoles and PCs in 2013, and a whole bunch of mobile titles. This is odd, because you don't need much out of a Fast game other than great racing, a cool locale, some hot cars, and the occasional voice track from someone in the movie's cast. It's not the deepest movie franchise, so it doesn't need to have the deepest games either.
Most movie tie-in games are bad. Sure we've gotten some real gems like Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, Spider-Man 2, or Goldeneye, but most of them are absolutely horrible. Most of this has to do with tie-in titles being rushed out the door to coincide with the release of the film. Game development is already har; having a set-in-stone deadline and a general lack of development time is going to lead to some cut corners. It's rarely surprising when these tie-in games don't deliver.
Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious (yes, I'm going to type it out every time) doesn't have to worry about these problems. Forza Horizon 2 is already great, they just need to provide enough hooks to call it a solid tie-in. Last year, developer Free Lives did the same thing with Expendabros, extra Broforce characters and missions related to the Expendables movie franchise. Expendabros was released in August as a free download on Steam, just in time for Expendables 3. For the most part, it was the same great BroForce gameplay with a slightly different coat of paint.
Instead of working from the ground-up, it makes sense to leverage an already existing titles. Travellers Tales utilizes the same basic gameplay for every Lego game, but with changes for each universe. Lego The Hobbit might not be what you'd expect from a movie tie-in, but it fit the bill well enough. Lego Jurassic World will do the same this year, I'm sure.
If you don't have time to go all the way and make a great film tie-in, a small free DLC release is the next best thing. Don't have time to make a Guardians of the Galaxy game? Saints Row DLC with the characters would've done nicely. What about John Wick as extra content for DmC: Definitive Edition? Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice DLC for Mortal Kombat X certainly has to be on the horizon, if only so I can pit Jason Momoa's Aquaman against Sub-Zero. And are we getting some Warcraft movie armor skins in World of Warcraft's 2016 content?
I understand not having the resources to go all-in on a movie tie-in game (even though the cancelled Pirates of the Caribbean game would've been dope), but there's ways to get around the problem. Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious is just one way and I'm hoping it's a method that more publishers and studios look at in the future. I don't need much out of my movie tie-ins, so there's no reason to always fly under my expectations. Work smarter, publishers, not harder.