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May 29, 2007



- Hundred of cars to own, tune to true racing excellence and even sell in the Auction House

- Braking arrow overlays on tracks alleviate some of the learning curve of handling curves



- Anybody expecting Burnout or Project Gotham Racing probably won’t enjoy the simulation-centric gameplay

- Real-world handling is frustrating until you learn the right “feel” for each car you’ll spend time with behind the wheel

- Online racing doesn’t have same level of racing excitement that single-player mode



Review: Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (PS2)

Review: Burnout Revenge (360)

Review: Ridge Racer 6 (360)



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Forza Motorsport 2

Score: 9.0 / 10


PlayStation 2 gamers chuckled back in 2005 when Microsoft planned on releasing Forza Motorsport as a challenger to their system’s excellent simulation driving franchise, Gran Turismo, which was set to see its fourth release the same year. They asked, “Ha, ha, does Microsoft actually think they can make a better driving game than Gran Turismo?”


forza motorsport 2          forza motorsport 2


But they weren’t laughing when Forza Motorsport actually turned out a worthy challenger and then some, getting better overall reviews (by the slimmest of margins) than GT4.


Now, as Gran Turismo HD for the PS3 has been unceremoniously canceled, Microsoft has unveiled Forza Motorsport 2 on the Xbox 360, and ladies and gentleman, start your driving game engines, because there’s a new version of Forza, and it’s revved up and ready to rip up the road, with hundreds of cars and tough tracks to tackle.

Forza Motorsport 2 is a heavy-duty simulation with car upgrading features that takes tuning virtual cars to a high level of realism along with controls that are




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demanding yet rewarding once you’ve mastered motoring around unbending curves and speed-burning straight-aways to become a veritable racing champ.


It’s definitely the cars that are the stars in Forza Motorsport 2, and there’s a wide cast available to unlock. From timeless Detroit muscle to the Italian


power and finesse of Ferrari to the superior German engineering of BMW to exotics like the Saleen 57 and McLaren F1 GT to old-school classics such as a 1970 Porsche and 1965 Shelby Cobra, there’s literally hundreds of cars in the Forza Motorsport 2 stable to entice any car fanatic that happens to enjoy gaming with unbelievably awesome performance cars.


And while it’s not the same number of vehicles available in Gran Turismo 4, where Forza Motorsport 2 more than makes up for the half-total of cars is in its under-the-hood performance. The cars perform at a real-world level, handling (presumably) just like they would if you were behind the wheel, ripping around one of the over 60 tracks in 18 different environments covering 13 licensed circuits.


That can be a frustration for gamers who prefer a Burnout or Need For Speed style racing game, with more forgiving physics and actual encouraged crashing-mashing-bashing gameplay that isn’t possible in Forza Motorsport 2, at least if you expect to win races, gain credits and unlock more cars. Crashing has an entirely negative effect on your car (which surprisingly show damage ranging in severity depending on how much wall-bashing you do, something that’s a rarity in gaming, because car companies don’t like to see their craftsmanship shown mangled and demolished). You can’t win with a car that’s spent more time scraping and hitting walls than it has on the road. Every type of challenge is offered up, from twisting, turning road tracks to straight-up, burn-baby-burn left-turn race tracks for the 200 miles-per-hour racing machines.


forza motorsport 2          forza motorsport 2


In addition to the real-world physics at play that provide a challenge to even the most veteran of racing gamer, there’s plenty of customization options that tune out the cars that you unlock and buy to their utmost performance level. Just buying the best parts available is usually the easiest way to promote a car to a nearly unbeatable racing demon. But there’s a role-playing game upgrading functionality involved, where you can “level up” cars you race with. The higher you finish, the quicker you’ll reach the next level, and also win more credits (and secure discounts on parts), which you’ll need to buy those car upgrades and parts that will improve your braking, suspension, tires, and every other aspect of your car. Forza Motorsport 2 goes a little extra step by providing you the ability to design a one-of-a-kind beauty with a large quantity of paint and custom design choices for your car.


And also, with some amazing results you’ll see in the Auction House (where you can sell your custom creations), there are some apparently really talented gamers out there when it comes to designing cars, because you’ll find vehicles emblazoned with movie, sports teams and even gaming character designs. ( Although this is an Xbox 360-only title, strangely there were an unusually large number of Nintendo-themed vehicles showcased in the Auction House.)


Despite the impressive customization ability to enhance your cars, Forza Motorsport 2 doesn’t seem to have significantly more of a graphical proficiency than its Xbox predecessor. The cars and courses are really accurately detailed, not overwhelmingly standing out, but certainly impressive on a subtle level.


Online, Forza Motorsport 2 performs well, providing gamers an excellent chance to show off their racing prowess they’ve developed through Forza Motorsport 2’s single-player campaign. One feature that helps eliminate any chance of lag and unpleasant online gaming is the optional “ghosting” of your opponents, where your car and the cars of your opponents are “ghosts” that cannot be crashed into. Without the “ghosting” effect, races would turn into a convoluted mess of jumbled metal from smashed-up cars, and there's no way many gamers would consider that a good time on the virtual asphalt tracks.


Gearhead gamers will thoroughly enjoy the true-to-life car behaviors and the ability to modify cars to unlimited extremes. Expect to find yourself in the virtual garage for hour after hour competing in the single-player mode. Multiply that by an even larger number of hours you’ll spend racing online with your customized rides and any car fan is getting their money's worth.


- Lee Cieniawa


(July 6, 2007)


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