All racers please report to your Xbox 360’s, the race is about to begin. Forza Motorsport 2 is the sequel to the original surprise hit on the original Xbox. With Forza 2 and the power of the Xbox 360 what you get is a great platform for a superb racing experience. Online gameplay, complete customization down to every last detail and decal and the ability to share and showcase your cars with the world make this one of the most complete racers ever.And yet something seems to be missing from Forza 2, or at least one of the main components of it. “Career Mode”, what it is isn’t easily pointed out and for a long while it eluded me, but it came to me that it’s not that something is missing it’s almost like there’s too much. There’s too much “grinding”. Play any role playing game and you’ll understand that grinding is the process of getting from one level to the next. It’s called grinding because much like real life it’s a grind to get from one level to the next. What some people will argue is one of its better points, others will argue is the main reason it is such a great game. The point of the game is to win races obviously. When you win races you earn “experience points” that will level your racer up and unlock new cars, new races, and other things. Your car also follows a similar path. At some point, though, it becomes somewhat boring to go through and complete races on tracks that you’ve been on several times before, but in a different car. What made it, at least for me, kind of a chore was the feeling that I never really got to use one car to do a multitude of races. I would enter a series specific to a certain type of vehicle from there I could either purchase a qualifying car or use one from my garage. I could trick it out as much or as little as I want, win the series and find out that that same car wouldn’t qualify for anything else. So, it was on to another car. I just never got attached to any one specific ride. After you get to a certain level, tricking out a car is easy. Your only option is to ramp up the difficulty. If you don’t raise the difficulty the game almost seems too easy, which can make it a bit boring for some.
Luckily, despite all that I had fault with (and in reality it’s not the worst of faults, there’s tremendous replay value in the game) can be remedied with online gameplay. The ability to upload pictures to a server so that you can show off your custom paint job is so cool you could very well spend as much time painting your car as you could actually racing it. Racing against live competition is always a plus, too. You can even participate in tournaments against the entire Xbox Live Community. There really is a lot of great stuff going on in Forza 2 that racing fans will definitely love. There’s a ton of cars to race with and there’s a potential for the development team to continue to add new cars on a regular basis due to downloadable content. The same thing goes for the racetracks. They’ve done a great job on the racetrack side by including several fictional tracks, which helps make the game more playable because otherwise you’re forced to play the same tracks in other games.
The audio in Forza 2 is also top-notch. The sound effects really give you that “in the car” feel. The cars each have their own unique sound which helps to further enhance the appeal of the game. Depending on how you look at it you might feel the game is missing music. On the one hand music can often get you excited about a race, but on the other hand you can very easily get bored with the soundtrack selection if you play the game often enough. In general you probably won’t miss that licensed song from either some group you’ve never heard of or some group you’ve heard far too much of. Either way, a few minutes into the game and you won’t even realize the missing music. Also, consider the fact that if you’re playing online you probably don’t want all that music blaring in the background of your opponents which can keep their microphone open and force you to listen to their stereo at full blast for an entire race.
Again, visually Forza 2 is the best looking racer on the Xbox 360 or quite possibly on all next generation consoles. The cars are stunning. The level of detail is amazing. Nothing seems to have been spared in terms of the visual element in Forza 2. Every car is modeled with great care, every race course carefully reconstructed in digital perfection. In fact, the game looks so amazing that onlookers may have to give it a second glance because it looks that realistic.
Gameplay wise, Forza 2 has some good points and bad points. For one it suffers from the same thing that nearly every racing game suffers from, the CPU AI is perfect. Putting slower cars aside, they always take the correct line, they never crash unless you provoke them to, and they never spin out in a turn as you will. Granted that you don’t want the race to look like a drift course with your opponents fishtailing at every corner, but the occasional mess up should be a given. Even professionals have their bad moments on rare occasions. However, one of the cooler features is the car damage. When you bang around with the other racers your car might react the way a normal car would (remember that a vast majority of these cars are regular everyday cars you see on the street outside your house) so, sometimes you get a little smoke coming from your engine, other times you totally screw up the alignment and have to over-steer, or worse yet your car just won’t get into gear leaving you stuck in fourth gear perpetually. Now, this is one of those aforementioned options to make the game easier or more difficult, so you can turn this on or off, but it’s still far better than playing demolition derby and winning races because you can knock opponents off the road. Controls are tight and the ability to use the steering wheel can only enhance your experience even further (for the record, I used just the simple wireless controller) with the only thing able to surpass that would be if you have the racing seat and multiple monitors and Xbox 360’s to play the game. Forza Motorsport 2 supports up to eight monitors with eight Xbox 360s for an unprecedented 360 degree view of the world of Forza 2.
Forza Motorsport 2 also has the benefit of coming from a good pedigree. The first Forza was dubbed a “Gran Turismo killer”, so you knew right away that this game would have lofty goals and a lot to live up to. I think it lives up to those expectations and probably exceeds them easily. The gameplay is fantastic and the ability to play online against the world in any of several modes makes this one of the best racers on the Xbox 360, a system that has quite a few top tier racers as it is.
Overall, racing fans should have a great time with Forza 2. It’s a definite buy for anyone looking for a racing simulation game with online play. Like most racing games, the CPU is flawless and you’ll have to be just as flawless to beat them. Stellar graphics, great sound and some unique online features mean near endless replay value. If you’re into racing games how could you pass on this? It is the best racer on the Xbox 360.
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