Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Review: Forza Motorsport 2

My palms are sweating and I’m on the edge of my seat. Its the last lap of a race in Laguna Seca and the driver behind me is all over me like a wet t-shirt. One mistake and he’ll pass me for sure. Hold him off, and fortune and glory is all mine. Welcome to “Forza Motorsport 2,” an engrossing, deep and beautiful racing sim.
Building a great racing video game is a tough task. They can come off as too cartoony (“Mickey’s Speedway USA”), silly (“Crazy Taxi”), stupid (“Pimp My Ride”) or just plain head scratching (“Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing?” Who thought this was a good idea?). With “Forza 2” Microsoft seems to be trying to compete with Sony’s “Gran Turismo” series, well known for its almost anal retentive attention detail but the game actually comes across as something better – a blend of “Gran Turismo’s” gift for customization and “Project Gotham Racing 3’s” easy pick and up and play driving controls. Put those two things together with “Forza 2’s” beautiful graphics and what do you get? A racing sim that everyone from hardcore gamers to noobs can enjoy.
There is so much to do in “Forza 2” (hey, that rhyms!) that its almost hard to figure out where to start. There’s a very deep exhibition mode where you can get familiar with the different tracks, race a variety of the different car types in either simulated races and time trials or just drive a lazy free run. The games multi-player component offers exactly what you’d expect from a Microsoft game, a great sense of community. There are online tournaments, races, Forza TV where you can watch a race, you can gift a car and send it to a friend and best of all there’s an auction house. Here you can buy and sell cars just like on ebay. Cool!
The heart of “Forza 2” is the career mode. You’ll start off by choosing a region, buying a lowgrade car and getting your race on. When you’re not racing and raising your driver level, you’ll be buying new cars and customizing them to an almost hilarious degree. Sure there are plenty of parts upgrades but most gamers will most likely become enamored with is the visual customization. There are tons of colors, logos, designs you can add to your vehicle to make it look like just about anything you want. Ever wanted to race with the General Lee or a car with Pringles logos all over it? Now’s your chance, it’s a blast to play with.
The game presentation is first rate. The cars look stunning, the tracks are beautiful and the audio is solid but where “Forza 2” truly shines is in the attention it pays to the little things. The crowd cheers as you zoom past the grandstands and they each move individually. The cars take minor damage, as bumpers fall off and windows break, adding to the sense of realism. Shadows from light poles and buildings reflect off of cars and dust spews when you veer off the road. The lighting is spectacular as the light reflects differently off the road depending on the position of the sun. Cones, when knocked out of place, will stay where they were hit for the entire race. They don’t respawn back to their original location.
Of course none of this would matter if the racing stunk, thankfully its as tough as you want it to be. The AI is completely adjustable to fit however good of a racer you are, but no matter what level you’re at, you’ll be challenged. The driving controls are laid out on the controller quite well so even if you don’t drop $130 on a racing wheel, you won’t feel like your missing out on anything.
So this game must be perfect, right? A wider mix of race tracks, some weather elements and a not so lame soundtrack would be nice but I’m being nitpicky. With over 300 licensed vehicles (and I’m sure more is to come through Xbox Live Marketplace) and enough drive time hours to keep Danica Patrick happy, you will never be bored with this title. If you like racing games, even a little bit, you need to take “Forza 2” for a spin.
Forza 2 Motorsport
Cost: $59.99
Players: 1-2 (8 Online)
Formats: Xbox 360
Category: Racing Sim
Rating: E (Everyone)
You take the good: Beautiful graphics, excellent racing controls, challenging AI, deep career mode, crazy amounts of customization, tons of licensed cars
You take the bad: Umm…its not free?
And then you have – The Grade: A

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yup, fun game. The SP is solid. The MP...well, F2 is one of those games sensitive to the open NAT/port forward issues, so if you have someone in the room that hasn't set this up...they end up stuttering around the track.