Forza Motorsport first graced gamers’ screens in 2005 on the original Xbox, and with it came the perfect balance of the simulation-type racing seen in games like Gran Turismo and the arcade-style racing seen in games like Need for Speed. Forza Motorsport was a game that truly appealed to everybody. Forza Motorsport 2 faced quite a challenge to live up to the legacy left by its predecessor, so how did it fare?
Forza Motorsport 2 certainly is a hefty title content-wise. It features over 300 cars from 50 major manufacturers, producing quite a range: everything from entry level Hondas, Toyotas and Minis, to top of the line Ferraris, Maseratis and McLarens. Trick out all of these cars with hundreds of aftermarket parts, and then customise them to your heart’s content. 12 racing environments are available to put your new masterpieces to the test, including several real life tracks. There are also 47 ribbons, which are track variations and racing options.
All of this would however be meaningless if the actual driving was poor; luckily, this is where Forza Motorsport 2 really shines. Each car has its own feel, so that you really do notice the difference between driving two cars. The physics and realism of the cars is amazing, depending on how you set the difficulty. At one end of the spectrum there’s the host of driving aides; stability control, antilock braking, and traction control. The dynamic driving line assist from the original Forza is back. At the other end of the spectrum Forza Motorsport 2 is extremely realistic, featuring everything from crash damage to minor touches like the amount of fuel you have and tyre wear. These can have a significant impact on your races. The status for all of these can all be viewed whilst racing along with some far more advanced meters, which offer an in-depth look at your car and its performance.
The AI in Forza is a real plus with realistic opponents to drive against. Drive submissively and the AI will quickly take advantage and hammer you in the placings. Driving too aggressively and playing bumper cars will scare off some drivers, but the more hostile drivers will begin attempting to force you from the road. Leave them alone however and the AI will generally stick to a racing line and drive competently and efficiently.
When Forza Motorsport 2 is first fired up a whole host of options are presented to the player. You could start off with time trials, race against your mates with split screen or console link races or even jump online to race against the community. But the real meat and veg of the game is the career mode.
The career mode Forza Motorsport 2 is a racing simulator and as such don’t expect any fancy cut scenes or story lines. You’ll start off at level 0 with money in hand; from here you pick your home region and buy your first car. Different regions are home to different manufacturers, and quite quickly you’ll make deals with these manufacturers for some hefty discounts. The real beauty of career mode though is that you can jump straight in and race, no pesky licensing systems! As you progress through the career mode, your driving level rises unlocking a host of new cars and races to compete in.
Along the way you can also customize your car to your heart’s content. Mechanically, cars have huge degrees of customization, with a large range of aftermarket parts available to increase the performance of your car. Visually cars are also fully customizable and can have up to 4,100 layers of graphics which can be edited with the livery editor to allow the player to add many shapes, forms and even pictures to their car.
A huge portion of Forza 2 is the online section. Competitors can fully customize the conditions of their races with restrictions not just on the standard track and laps info. Racers can also customize everything from car classes and restrictions on driving aides. But far more than mere races will be found in the Forza online community.
The community element is very strong and lets players sell or gift their cars to other players online. Far from just meeting people in lobbies and selling your cars for a fixed price, there is also a detailed auction process in which players can upload cars from their garage for the entire internet community to bid on with their hard earned Forza dollars.
To successfully sell a car for a pretty penny, it’s going to take far more than performance upgrades. Original and spectacular looking cars are often sighted, with just last week a car entitled ‘Heil Hitler’ - a car bearing Swastika and bearing striking resemblance to some of Hitler’s cars, being sold.
Graphically, Forza Motorsport 2 is absolutely stunning. The rendering of the cars is incredible with highly detailed models. The interiors of the cars are fantastic and the exteriors are just as impressive. Over 4000 layers of vinyl decoration can be added to please the artist in all of us. The lighting and reflections are top notch and add an extra level of detail to all of the cars. Even the damage, though not highly detailed, is convincing. The tracks and background environments are of equally high detail which superbly sets the scene. It’s quite easy to become distracted and find yourself smashed up in a wall by gazing at the rolling hills in Germany, or the buildings in New York.
With the huge amount of time that can be spent customizing and painting your cars, a good soundtrack is vital. Forza really came through with this; a pleasing mix of genres and some well known bands are featured. A long play list is here, but there is always the option for just the music stored on your Xbox. When you’re actually racing, the sound effects are superb. Engine sounds are noticeably different between cars and change with performance upgrades. Crashes have an impact on sounds with damage to certain parts causing them to make some interesting sounds. The sound effects are wonderful and compliment the racing action.
Forza Motorsport 2 truly is a fantastic game. With over 300 cars and 47 ribbons it is a feature packed game. With a multitude of game modes and a career mode that will keep even the most talented of gamers many hours to complete. There is enough customization to keep the Dan Boii in all of us happy and a fantastic online community. The overall presentation is stunning. Forza Motorsport 2 is most certainly a game that belongs in every Xbox 360 owner’s collection.