Justin Towell nitro soars over the Bay Bridge with a ‘woo-hoo’ as Horizon Chase 2 delivers driving thrills on iOS devices, ahead of consoles in 2023.
The purity of the experience as you drive an idealized sports car at incredible speeds through retro-inspired circuits is a beauty. So how can this sequel hope to be better without diluting the experience?
Well, it actually removes a few things, leaving room for the new additions to breathe. A very clever solution, and one that makes this game even more playable than before, albeit a bit simplified.
The first thing you notice is that the density of detail on the track has increased tenfold. Gone is the strip of road with objects that appear for you to speed past. Instead, the beautifully stylized environments are truly persistent.
You’re still going 200mph (and feel that way, too) with the Bay Bridge on the horizon, only now it stays in view as you round a corner and across it. Capture the horizon? OK sorry.
The game is still moving at a million miles an hour despite all this geometry. Add day/night transitions and more wonderful music and you have a party.
As for the race, it is simply structured with five areas to compete in, of which only the US is unlocked at the start. Complete races and collect tokens found on the track and you’ll unlock new areas, totaling four to five hours of gameplay.
The tiles normally take more than one lap to collect, providing a simple memory game as you try to remember which side you need to be on after various waypoints on the circuit. However, the tokens now spawn in plenty of time to head towards them, and the collision detection when collecting them seems to be a bit more forgiving in this sequel, making it less frustrating.
Same goes for collisions with AI cars – you’re not punished as much for small prangs, losing less speed, though you can still get caught up behind someone.
Also easing the frustration is the removal of the fuel system. You will no longer have to look for gasoline drums or run out of juice 300 m before the line. Even with the improvements to the player experience, it’s still a ridiculously fast game, and if you don’t react or just lose track of where the path is heading thanks to the increased detail in the visuals, you’ll turn around. That OutRun influence is still easy to spot.
One item that was sadly also removed is the speech bubbles that used to appear above your car, punning ’80s-themed puns or just badmouthing your opponents on your behalf. As a result, the proceedings feel a bit more separate and direct.
As if to make up for it, the musical fanfare for crossing the line in the first place is somehow even more exaggerated than before. It’s a sonic delight, and it’s always amazing to hear electric guitar solos in a racing game.
Horizon Chase 2 is currently only available on iOS through Apple Arcade, though it does support gamepads for a more console-like experience. It works decently well on a 2018 iPad Pro, but almost flawlessly on an iPhone 13 Mini.
There are occasional crashes and frame rate drops, as the phone maybe doing something in the background, and a crash or two too, but restarting brings your smooth 60fps back once more.
There are also multiplayer modes, with one where you can sign up to be part of a team, either by joining one with a code or by creating your own and sharing codes. Quick online matches are also available with their own reward system, though control inputs are noticeably delayed when competing with other humans, which isn’t ideal in such a fast-paced game.
There’s no split-screen option in this incarnation of iOS, though when it comes to console and PC next year, there’s a good chance they’ll be around. A tournament mode with small challenge championships unlocks as you score areas in the campaign, and online leaderboards round out an impressively comprehensive feature set.
This is a prime example of the arcade racing game, beautifully reviving ’80s gaming sensibilities while offering a light-hearted, simple experience that anyone can enjoy. It’s not as memorable, challenging, or magical as the original, but if you’ve fallen in love with Horizon Chase like we have, or just want to have fun with ultra-fast, easy-to-play racing, it’s still the easiest recommendation. . Let’s do it.
|developer||Aquiris game studio|
|Release date||September 6, 2022|
|available platforms||iOS (PC and console in 2023)|
|best played with||iPhone 13 or newer|
Full disclosure: We downloaded this game from the App Store for review purposes. This is our review policy.