When whooshing down the dastardly Nürburgring track for the umpteenth time, you will realize the brilliance and competency that Turn10 has in the racing genre. You will begin to realize that they have created a racing game that is not only a faithful homage to the science of driving, but also one that can be experienced by anyone. The ability to craft and mould your experience to correspond with your skill level makes this a racing game for all.

One of the first and most obvious ways that a game can tailor the experience for its players is through difficulty levels. Forza Motorsport 2 is no different and has four. However, the way that Forza differentiates itself is through highly customizable driving aids. There are three different aids: Stability Control Management, Traction Control System, and the Antilock Brake System. If you feel like you can go without one, you can simply turn off them from the options menu. The best part? It’s not tied to the difficulty level, so you can up the driver AI, but still have all of these driving assists on.

Forza 2 also has the option to include driving lines on the tracks, which range from full driving lines throughout the race or braking only lines, which show you when and how much to brake. The driving lines are colour-based, with green corresponding to “hit the gas,” yellow to “lift off the gas,” orange to “tap the breaks” and red to “slam the breaks.” While this is definitely a great feature and a big help to the beginners, adhering strictly to the driving lines that Turn10 has laid down are not always the optimal driving lines to take. Furthermore, if you use the driving assists and the driving lines for too long, you may find yourself wondering why the game got so hard so fast.

Enough about how the game helps you drive—how does the game actually handle? In a word, superb. Accelerating, braking, and cornering all feel unbelievably precise. Everything just controls right. There is never an instance you will encounter when you feel cheated by lack of control of your vehicle; you know it’s your fault when you screw up.

There is also a great amount of depth and differentiation with how each car controls. Personally, I have no idea what it feels like to drive an F1 McLaren, but when I am in one in Forza, it’s exactly how I think it would feel driving one if I had the opportunity. Each and every car has this same feeling, as well as possessing its own unique feel out on the track. That unique feel can affect the game play tremendously. It’s not only when you drive a D class car (lowest ranked class) to a R1 class car (highest ranked class)—you can feel the difference in the way each car performs within each and every class. This is great, because you can play with different cars and experience different gameplay, or just find a car that you’re comfortable with and ride it to death.

There is a wealth of single-player and multiplayer modes that players can experience in Forza 2, making this the most feature-filled racer to date on any next-generation platform. In terms of single-player, you can participate in arcade and career races. In arcade mode, you can choose from exhibition, time attack and free run races. Exhibition is comprised of your regular run-of-the-mill races, while time-attack sends you through all of the tracks and you must beat the established time in order to pass them. Lastly, there is free run mode, which allows you to race any track of your choosing by yourself, just so you can get a feel for each tracks subtlety. While these modes aren’t essential to the experience, they are welcome additions to the game.

While you may not spend a huge amount of time with exhibition races, one mode that everyone will definitely be logging many hours into is the career mode. This is the mode where you will earn credits to increase your car and driver level, as well as being the currency that allows you to buy new cars. There are a plethora of race types that change which cars from your garage you can use and the conditions for the race, so each race has a different touch to keep things fresh. Turn10 tiers each of the race series in a smart way, which means that you’re always going to have a couple of series to choose from at any particular moment. Finishing all the races in the single player could take you 20-30 hours. Even if you beat each race the first time through you’ll go back for more! Obviously, the length is somewhat superficial, because you’re going to see a lot of the same tracks, but at the same time, there are achievements for beating all these races, as well as more and more credits to get new cars, so there is some sort of impetus to get through the entire singe-player career mode. It’s a nice sight to see that people without Xbox Live are not going to be short-changed just because they are not big into online gaming.

However, if you are into the online scene, fear not. Forza 2 is just as jam-packed with goodies as the single player. There are your standard player and ranked matches that we’ve come to expect in all multiplayer games, but Forza 2 also brings some nice additions and innovations to the table. Included in Forza 2 is a fully-featured tournament mode, which allows players to race in multiple tracks for more credits. There are always tournaments on-going, so you’re never going to face a time where you can’t hop on and race for hours on end. Racing online will earn you more credits for one of the more innovative items Forza 2 has: An Auction House where you can buy and sell your cars.

What really makes the Auction House feature work is the customization options Forza has, which unleashes the creativity in the gamers that play it. You can re-paint cars, add pre-made stickers and icons, as well as paint your own custom themes on the car. You can create or buy your own custom cars (someone please make an Okami car for me, please?!) and this is in no small part to the amazing tools that Turn10 gave to all users. Furthermore, you can buy improved car parts to the cars to turn an unimpressive car into a beast.

While it has been established that Forza 2 is a great playing game, Forza 2 is also a great sounding and looking game. The car models all look fantastic for the most part, sporting a mind-blowing amount of detail. For example, when racing down the track, you can see the individual reflections of signs, poles, trees and the like shining off the car. However, you will notice a lot of jagged edges, especially on the tops of the cars. Also, the tracks aren’t as awe-inspiring as the car models. While they definitely look fine, it’s a little underwhelming for a next-generation Forza. The game does run at a rock-solid 60 frames a second, though, so at least things run smooth. Forza’s audio presentation is generally solid, but not particularly notable in any way. Each car has its own particular whine, but Forza 2 isn’t really pushing the standard in car audio quality here and is just as good as any other established racing franchise.

The Xbox 360 finally has a new landmark racing game on its system, which it has been starving for since Project Gotham Racing 3. Combining both accessibility and customization, Forza Motorsport 2 is not only something that hardcore racing fans should check out, but a game that every Xbox 360 owner owes him or herself to experience, no matter what their opinion of racing games are.

Originally Written By: Art Green

Originally Written By: Art

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