Forza Motorsport came out for the good old black Xbox in 2005. The game was an instant hit with the car enthusiasts, which in turn meant that the game developed a huge customizing community. The game had everything for a real racing simulation: a decent amount of tracks and almost limitless options to customize and tune your car. Now in 2007, Turn 10 releases a next-gen Forza Motorsport for the Xbox 360. So is Forza Motorsport 2 just a racing game with updated next-gen graphics or does it have more to offer?
Forza 2 will initially come over as a very tough game, seemingly impossible to master. However, that’s not to say the game is completely impossible for anyone to play. Far from it in fact, since a little time spent with the game will yield results quicker than you might initially expect. Furthermore there is so much to do in Forza Motorsport 2 itâ€™s hard to know where to start. The original Forza had around 230 cars to choose from, but Forza Motorsport 2 offers you more than 300 cars from 50 different car manufacturers for your driving pleasure. With so many cars at the disposal of the driver, it’s a good job that the game features 13 different racetracks with around 65 different track combinations. Forza Motorsport 2 offers you an arcade mode for just simple plain racing, a career mode which pans out like an RPG, as well as online racing and an auction house that’s used to buy and sell cars, but also to show off your mad tuning and painting skills.
The Arcade mode is considerably more basic than the career mode. Contained within said mode is exhibition races, Time Trial races and a free run mode. In the exhibition mode, 15 tracks are available, which allows for drivers to use any unlocked and tuned cars to race with. The damage done when racing in Arcade mode does not ruin any cars, as it is purely cosmetic here. The time trials option is a bit different; you get a predetermined car for one of the 15 tracks. In order to beat Time Trial mode, it’s required that the top time must be beaten on each of the available tracks. All times registered get posted online, allowing other drivers around the world to see who is King on Xbox Live, as well as showing friends what they need to do in order to have the bragging rights. The free run mode is nothing more than just simple practicing on tracks with different cars, attempting to perfect your laps.
The majority of the time will be spent in the career mode though, for those not yet ready for racing online. The career mode requires a skill level to be picked at the beginning to determine how much help will be required when racing. Next, a region needs to be chosen. Depending on which you pick (from the three options of North America, Europe and Asia), discounts are offered for that region. Pick Europe and you’ll get Ferrari’s cheaper, but American manufacture Dodge will be more expensive. After the options are all set, the chance to choose a car finally become available, with the next step being racing. The choice of cars initially is limited thanks to only an 11000 credit limit. Once in the career mode, naturally racing is the name of the game. There are a whole host of available race types, ranging from a rivalry face-off between racing two car brands against each other to endurance races where consistency and pit strategy are important in the extremely long events. Contained within each of the available race types are several events to complete. Many impose restrictions, often restricting certain classes of vehicles or even models of cars, making the race that tad more interesting.
Winning races is the easiest way to increase skill level and the bank balance. However the actual amount of credits that enters said bank balance depends on all manner of things. The difficulty is one thing, but also the amount of assists that are turned on. Turning off assists such as ABS, TCS and racing line will yield more income at the end of the race that is calculated by a percentage. Forza 1 had an assist know as dynamic racing line. It showed drivers when to accelerate, slow down and brake, and was a big part of the game. Now though, in this new generation, it’s back with a twist. New options are available, allowing it to be customized. It’s possible to choose what should show up, meaning that “Braking only” could be displayed on the track. This means there are no more lines all over the track unless approaching a corner.
What can be done with the wad of money building up at the bank? Well, naturally you can nip into a dealer and buy some new cars, or even better, buy some new parts for an existing car. To keep up with the competition, modifications are going to be needed. You can choose the simple way by just applying a new turbo, a roll bar, a new set of brakes and some weight reduction, or if you really like tuning, it’s possible to adjust every part of the car like adjusting the springs or gear ratio. This is for the real hardcore racers. If you are really good at adjusting your car, you can shave a few precious seconds from your lap times. A good or bad setup can make the difference between coming first or coming last.
You can finish the offline career in about 40 or 50 hours. The endurance races will suck up a lot of your time thanks to them being the longest races available in the game, often lasting up to 25 laps or more. When career mode is finally done with, attention turns to the online career mode. The online career is pretty much the same as the offline career only this time, the race is against human opposition, not AI. But there are more options than simply some online races. Microsoft is hosting weekly tournaments where anyone can attempt to join in on the action. The system for the tournament’s qualification works very well. You sign up for a tournament that hasnâ€™t started yet by doing a qualifying lap on the first round track. Depending on the available slots the top qualifiers may enter the tournament.
The other big online part Turn 10 spent a lot of time making is the car painting and auction house feature. The car painting mode uses a layering system where it is possible to stack shapes on top of each other. When first trying this mode, it wouldn’t immediately suggest that it is possible to create something awesome with it, but persevere; spending a lot of time and patience with it is required to get anywhere. And when you manage to create something really awesome, it’s possible to sell your car at the Auction House. There is an option to lock the paint to the car so others canâ€™t use it again on other cars, therefore you are getting paid for your skills. For showing off said paint jobs, Turn 10 implemented a nice photo option. During an offline race, it’s possible to pause the race and take a picture. When satisfied with the picture settings and the desired effects, the picture can be uploaded to forzamotorsport.net. When you login to the website, the last five pictures taken are all viewable.
So does that mean Forza Motorsport 2 is one hell of a thrill ride and worth a perfect 10 out of 10? Sadly not. Turn 10 spent a lot of time making this game a real driving simulator. They have spent a lot of hours in creating a superb engine with great car physics and an awesome looking damage model. But one thing that is immediately noticeable is the graphics. They suffer greatly when talking of next-gen gaming. The graphics are very good for a next-gen Forza, but are not what we expected from the game. But thereâ€™s a really good explanation for the not-so-awesome graphics. Turn 10 made such an awesome physics engine and made the game a solid 60 fps. All those calculations for the physics engine and the solid 60fps takes a lot of processing power, it would be impossible to make everything look fantastic at the same time. Turn 10 had to make the decision on what should suffer, in the end it’s better to have a smooth game with excellent physics than a choppy game with flashy graphics.
Forza Motorsport 2 is everything you could want from a squel. It offers everything that the original Forza did, and a whole lot more. The game now boasts an amazing array of customization options, with people spending hours upon hours tweaking and fiddling with their cars. The online mode is excellent too, with tournaments really showing potential to unite the community. The graphics are not quite as good as hoped, but as already mentioned, the game is super-smooth. It’s true that Forza isn’t for casual gamers, as this is certainly no Burnout or Need for Speed. But some spare time is required to get used to all the new things, and it is that fact along with the customization that will keep you busy for months.
Final Score: 9 out of 10 â€“ Very Good (How do we rate games?)