Game: Forza Horizon 2
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: 30/09/2014
Had any other manufacturer been the focal point, it’s likely this expansion pack would have come and gone largely unnoticed. Dedicated Forza Horizon 2 fans may have snapped it up, but it’s highly unlikely this rather small DLC offering would have grabbed headlines and the attention of the wider racing game world in the way it did.
As such, even with a clumsy upload error spoiling the big surprise, the Porsche Expansion for Forza Horizon 2 has become one of the more interesting content additions for a racing game so far this year. Not since 2011’s Porsche Expansion for Forza Motorsport 4 have Stuttgart’s finest been featured in a non-EA release, and the fact they’re now available in one of the best eighth-gen racing games to date only makes the inclusion of Porsches more intriguing and exciting.
However, the Porsche Expansion’s official announcement also revealed a selection of Porsches will be featured in Forza Motorsport 6 (albeit in 2016, after it’s released later this year). And, whilst it’s not known for sure which models will be featured, it’s all-but-certain the 10 contained in this new add-on will also be included in the more sim-centric title.
So, can Forza Horizon 2’s Porsche Expansion offer enough to justify the premium, or is it worth waiting for this collection of zany sports cars from Zuffenhausen to eventually materialise in Forza Motorsport 6?
Though the picking is considerably smaller this time around in comparison with the aforementioned Forza Motorsport 4 pack, the Forza Horizon 2 Porsche Expansion does feature a decent selection of cars, covering some of the more important model types over the years to be emblazoned with the distinctive Wurttemburg crest.
A majority should also be familar to long-term Forza fans as well, with the ‘flat Bug’ 914 and the ultra-laggy 944 Turbo all making their franchise return though Horizon 2’s Porsche Expansion.
Some, though, are lifted straight from Porsche’s ever-growing contemporary road car range. Alas, no 911 GT3s or Cayman GT4s are to be found here (it’s possible they, along with dedicated racers like the 919 LMP1-H, will find their way into Forza Motorsport 6), but players do at least get to muck about with the all-new 911 Turbo S, Cayman GTS and 918 Spyder models, with the latter arguably being the highlight of the entire expansion pack.
No matter which Porsche you go for, though, each handles in the way you’d expect their real-life counterpart to do, albeit with the rougher edges being filed down by Forza Horizon 2’s intuitive-yet-accessible physics engine. Though the 930 Turbo feels quite wallowy and imprecise for a car made infamous via its ‘widow maker’ reputation, the rest all steer in a manner befitting of the way they’re claimed to be in magazine road tests. Should the in-game GT3 RS 4.0 is a tenth as scintillating to drive in the real world, the it’s easy to see why many motoring journalists back in 2011 eulogised the car so much.
If there’s one area for criticism regarding the cars, it’s that the audio doesn’t appear to be quite to the standard that’s expected from a Forza game. The engine noises seem authentic enough for most of the time, yet there are instances where things start feeling a bit off – the induction noise for the Porsche Carrera GT when driving in the cockpit view, for instance, comes across as being overly amplified.
Quite a few bugs also cropped up during my time spent testing each car, with the most recurrent one being unresponsive gear changes. They’re not problems I experienced exclusively after installing the Porsche Expansion and the accompanying Forza Horizon 2 title update, but the frequency in which they cropped up was considerable enough for them to be worth noting here.
All power, no torque
Despite the bugs, though, the Porsches themselves are lovely to drive, with some of them being competitive right out of the gate in Forza Horizon 2’s core events – the Cayman GTS, for example, is powerful and poised enough to easily outgun its higher-rated rivals in the game’s ‘Sports Car’ category. The big issue is that there’s not a whole lot these Porsches bring to Forza Horizon 2, especially for players who’ve already finished the single-player portion of the game.
Though the Rivals events do give players the chance to really stretch the legs of the Stuttgarter sports cars whilst also amassing more in-game currency and experience points, they really don’t mean much if you’re not the sort who finds fun in racing games through climbing online leaderboards. Likewise, the extra in-game rewards will mean Jack all as well if you’ve already amassed all the cars you’ve wanted to own (which is likely, given it’s been eight months since Forza Horizon 2 went on sale).
Only the new Bucket List challenges prove to be the biggest hook of the pack outside of the cars, with the majority being challenging yet engaging enough to be intensely thrilling to attempt whilst also satisfying to succesfully finish. Nailing the cross-country time trial run in the Porsche Macan Turbo with what appeared to be a tenth of a second to spare is comfortably one of my most sentimentally cherished moments from Forza Horizon 2 to date.
But those brief, heart-in-mouth moments aren’t enough to disquise the content shortcomings of something branded an ‘expansion pack’. Though the Storm Island Expansion DLC released earlier this year does admittedly cost twice as much as the Porsche pack, you do at least get substantially more (an all-new map, 80 events and five cars never featured in a Forza game before) to justify the extra outlay and its branding as a sizeable supplement.
As much as the official announcement would lead you to believe this piece of DLC is a major add-on for Forza Horizon 2, the truth of the matter is that the Porsche Expansion for Forza Horizon 2 is, at best, a glorified car pack.
Yes, there are extra events and Achievements to unlock, and the Rivals challenges do give the provided cars some replay value, but there’s no getting away from the fact this add-on itself is less a sumptuous and seemly dessert to complement the main meal, and more the equivalent of an extra sauce dip.
The core Porsche ingredient of that dip, though, is certainly tempting to try out. Even if you’ve completed the core game modes, you’ve still got an (admittedly quite small, by open-world standards) entire game map to hoon about in these presominantly ‘Boxer’-powered beasts, and those who are still hooked on all facets of Forza Horizon 2 will undoubtely find plenty of enjoyment in tuning, customising, painting and racing a series of cars that many would never have expected to ever see brought to Forza Horizon 2.
Essentially, then, it’s only the association with Porsche that counters the expansion’s fairly mundane content features, and thus award this piece of DLC an above-average rating. Had there been no Porsches in this pack, then only a spectacular car roster and/or heaps of extra event types would have saved it from considerable panning – especially if the Porsche Expansion’s £7.99 asking price was retained.
Put simply, if you can look beyond its shortcomings as an expansion pack and think the cars on offer are worth paying for, then by all means go ahead and buy it. Should you be in doubt, though, then I’d advise you hold off on this DLC, and instead wait for the Porsches to eventually pop up in Forza Motorsport 6.