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X360: Forza Motorsport 2
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by Rob Williams on June 22, 2007 in Gaming

The original Forza was known for its intense realism and car selection. Forza 2 takes all of that one step further and ends up being one title that should not be avoided, despite some of it’s blatant problems.

You can call me crazy, but I have never played the original Forza. I’ve always heard great things about the game, but never had an opportunity to play it. I was quite addicted to PGR and PGR2, so it would have been difficult to tear myself away to play. However, after playing Forza 2, I regret avoiding the original.

For the uninitiated, Forza 2 is a simulation racer. It is not a Need For Speed-type game where you hop in and drive like a madman. It’s closer to Gran Turismo, where you need to master the control and tracks in order to drive away a winner. I don’t say this lightly. This is a difficult game that will require a lot of practice and patience if you want to get anywhere. However, the rewards are quickly reaped, making it difficult to haul yourself out of the chair once you are immersed in the experience.

The technical options of the game has to be mentioned, first and foremost, even though very few people will ever experience what ise offered. Forza offers support for not two, not three, but up to eight different TV screens, which can be circled around you to give the ultimate racing experience. This requires what I assume to be eight Xbox 360’s though. Definitely not a poor mans route.

As you would expect, the game also takes full advantage of the Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel, better than any other game I have tested. However, this is not all without issue, but I will get into that shortly.

The game has absolutely no story-line, so it’s up to you to make your own. The main mode in the game is of course, Career. Here, you purchase a starter car and proceed to race through beginner tracks to earn more cash, and even cars. Career races are split into categories, such as Proving Grounds, Amateur Cup Races, Manufacturer Club Races, Semi-Pro and so on, with a total of 10 different categories in all.

Every category offers a slew of events with specific rules. You will be changing and upgrading your car often in order to participate in different events. Every single one of these events offer a car at the end if you place in first. If you have no use for the car, you can sell it, though it won’t be worth much.

As you complete races, you will earn CR to buy more cars or upgrades. Like an RPG, the more CR you earn, the more your license will be upgraded. All events are level restricted, so the more difficult ones will be acquired after you have put a fair amount of hours into the game. Events can also restrict your car to a certain make, BHP rating, torque rating and so-forth. So, earning money will be a priority, to make sure you can afford all these parts and cars, should you need them.

If you are conservative, you can easily save money by racing with cars that you have won from previous races. I found I only had to upgrade previous cars if I couldn’t easily handle a car I won through an event. Some older cars have horrible handling and are therefore far more difficult to drive. So upgrading the car for better handling is a good idea.

In addition to Career is Arcade, which consists of both Exhibition and Time Trials, both of which can result in winning more cars. Overall, there is a LOT of gameplay here. If you want to collect as many cars and medals as you can, there could easily be over 100 hours of game time involved. Even though there is no story line, the game still offers a great level of immersion.

One thing I wanted to point out though, is the faults with the steering wheel which seems to be overlooked by a lot of other reviews. If you own one, you know that it doesn’t include as many buttons as the actual Xbox 360 controller does. It lacks the LB and RB buttons, mainly. In tuning mode, you need to use those two buttons in order to flip through the pages of customization. So, when using a steering wheel, you will be unable to take much advantage of the tuning section, a huge oversight by Turn 10.

The problem doesn’t really end there though. You might think of turning the wheel off, then activating a controller to get the job done, and then switching back to the wheel. That won’t work, because the wheel will be ‘locked’ to the game. If you turn on a controller after turning the wheel off, it will be set as controller #2. Therefore, the only way to tune your car is to turn the console off and back on again, finish tuning, and then restart the console again to use the wheel. Ugh.

Those gripes aside, this is an amazing game. The graphics are sub-par, as are the tracks. But what’s lacking there is made up in sheer enjoyment. There are numerous tracks to race through, and over 300 cars to seek out. The game earns an 85% from me, with points lost mainly due to the poor graphics and lackluster track design. Everything else about the game well makes up for its downfalls.

+ Racing simulation at its best
+ Over 300 cars to drive
+ Wireless wheel support
+ Insane level of customization
+ Endless gameplay…

– Graphics are sub-par
– Non-ability to tune while using wheel
– I don’t own 8 TVs and 8 Xbox 360s

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