Forza Horizon 2 Visual Analysis: Xbox One vs Xbox 360

Burn, baby, burn!

Posted By | On 08th, Oct. 2014 Under Article, Graphics Analysis


The sweet smell of burnt rubber can take a hard hit on our pockets, and neither can we always rev our drive’s wheels all the time, nor are scratch and sniff discs around for a while, but there are still games out there filling the gaps of that experience with something more enriching. Forza Motorsport series has been one of the most critically acclaimed series for the Xbox consoles. Largely a racing simulator series, with Forza Horizon, the game series went ahead with an open world approach. The latest in the line of the Forza series is Forza Motorsport 2.

Forza Motorsport 2 leaves us to our devices to limn the differences between the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One version of the game. The generational difference is apparent, no doubt, but it isn’t as stark as one might expect in a few respects.

forza horizon2

"The Xbox One version of Forza Horizon 2 employs a commendable use of the lighting system that really steps up the visuals. Add to that the significantly improved aliasing - seemingly MSAA - on objects and even shadows, the game sure does look slick. The depth of field has been improved considerably, but that has come at the cost of object detailing. "

While an open world Forza did bring fresh tidings for us, it makes no sense to have Forza Horizon 2 run at 30fps on the Xbox One when Forza Motorsport 5 could manage a 60 fps at the same resolution of 1080p. The Xbox 360 version of Horizon 2 runs at 30fps at a resolution of 720p.

There’s no question about the Xbox One version of the game being better than its almost decade-old predecessor. But what needs to be questioned is just HOW much better does the new console fare?

While it’s obvious that Forza Horizon 2 as such is not as detailed as the Forza Motorsport 5, it’s worthy of notice that the latter wasn’t an open world game, thus, the developers could focus more on improving the set pieces and designs of the relatively limited objects in Motorsport 5.

The Xbox One version of Forza Horizon 2 employs a commendable use of the lighting system that really steps up the visuals.

Add to that the significantly improved aliasing – seemingly MSAA – on objects and even shadows, the game sure does look slick. The depth of field has been improved considerably, but that has come at the cost of object detailing.

High-resolution textures are in place although at times the shadows and reflections may feel rather lacking, especially when using the driver’s perspective inside the car.

The dashboard seems rather pale and pallid as it doesn’t reflect light appropriately; apparently disregarding the intensity of lights and at times, even not respecting the direction of lights.

forza horizon2

"The foliage is decent if anything, but by no means is it stupendous. Trees and leaves of bushes appear to be odd, rejected Lego blocks but this is not very noticeable when you’re involved in the game. The vistas around you too, at certain handful of occasions make you feel as if something were amiss as the terrain at times seems blocky with sub-par texture mapping."

This results in the lack of depth and perception, sapping the realism out of the experience. Also, as good as the shadows may be, in the driver’s seat you’ll find jaggies marring the edges of shadows while turning. This seems to be quite an isolated event, but it is there.

But outside, the world is beautiful. The lighting system really mingles with the apt reflections to give the game a solid appearance. The cars are appropriately detailed although screen space ambient occlusion could have received a slight bump as some crevices along the rocky terrain and even in your cars lack the absence of light that should be there.

The foliage is decent if anything, but by no means is it stupendous. Trees and leaves of bushes appear to be odd, rejected Lego blocks but this is not very noticeable when you’re involved in the game. The vistas around you too, at certain handful of occasions make you feel as if something were amiss as the terrain at times seems blocky with sub-par texture mapping.

But such instances are remarkably few. The tarmac has been given ample attention. It reacts to light brilliantly, present glares when it should and paling as dusk sets in. Even so, weather effects and their ramifications on the world are almost wholly missing.

The Xbox 360 version is lacking in all fields and that’s no surprise. With the 360 version too, Forza Horizon 2 seems a little bereft of aesthetic beauty when compared to Forza Motorsport 4. Again, the differences are due to the fact that Forza Horizon is an open world game; sacrifices are imminent.

forza horizon rally 2

"Sumo Digital has utilised the limited hardware remarkably well in their own way and this has resulted in a splendid looking game going by last gen standards. There is hardly any more effort that the Xbox 360 developers of the game could have done to make it even better; but the Xbox 360 version is no dumb changeling. "

Since the development of the 360 version of Horizon 2 was handled by a different studio – Sumo Digital – there are some differences in presentation of the game, such as when the game asks you to pick cars, the Xbox 360 version gives you a graphical interface showcasing the available cars while the Xbox One gives full 3D depictions of cars for you to choose from as the camera pans from one machine to the other. The cut scenes on the other hand remain just about as detailed as the Xbox One’s.

It goes to Sumo Digital’s credit towards the efforts they put into making the Xbox 360 version of Forza Horizon 2 the way it is. A significant number of elements of the game are different from its Xbox One version which makes it clear that the Xbox 360 version is not just a stripped down version of its successor, but a properly worked upon title.

Sumo Digital has modified the Forza Horizon engine to suit their needs while Playground Games has optimised the Forza Motorsport engine to cater to their demands.

Sumo Digital has modified the Forza Horizon engine to suit their needs while Playground Games has optimised the Forza Motorsport engine to cater to their demands.

Sumo Digital has utilised the limited hardware remarkably well in their own way and this has resulted in a splendid looking game going by last gen standards. There is hardly any more effort that the Xbox 360 developers of the game could have done to make it even better; but the Xbox 360 version is no dumb changeling. The Xbox One version of the game steals the show, but the 360 version is worth the remembrance.

The Xbox One version of the game steals the show, but the 360 version is worth the remembrance.


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