Genre: Racing Simulation
Release Date: May 29, 2007
If you're a hardcore racing simulation game fan, then you're going to absolutely love Forza Motorsport 2. Even if you're more of a casual arcade-style racing fan, you will spend countless hours glued to your screen enjoying the rich racing goodness. That's right; this game delivers an experience that's completely scalable. With the ability to change game settings from AI difficulty to race realism, this racing simulation will leave anyone who touches it coming back for more, and with good reason. FM2 prominently features hundreds of cars from all sorts of different manufacturers, tons of aftermarket upgrades and replacement parts, more than 10 different racing locations each with different variations and luscious graphics held at a consistent 50+ frame rate.
FM2 has quite a lot of cars. Expect to see your standard racing game's selection —Lamborghinis, Ferraris, etc. — but also be prepared to see a much broader assortment with Ford, Mercedes, Lotus, Saleen and McLaren, just to name a few. More importantly, however, is the fact that every car handles appropriately and responds as you'd think. Don't expect the monstrous Maserati to handle turns and corners as the lightweight Mini Cooper would. Then, with the addition of aftermarket parts, you can literately tweak every inch of your vehicle from shock tightness to gear ratio and from tire pressure to break pad alignment. It's all there. Modding out your ride with custom parts will in turn raise the performance of your car, as well as its rating number and class, which is a feature designed to delineate cars into racing groups. Ranging from D to A — D being the slowest, A being the fastest — FM2's intuitive system quickly lets you know where your car falls in terms of performance and speed, with the latter group giving a generalization, and the rating number being much more precise.
Why group cars into sections, you ask? Races you'll need to complete in the Career mode of Forza Motorsport 2 have a class restriction, so if you're going to participate and advance your career, you'd better have the right car. In addition to the career mode, FM2 features a selection of racing modes, such as single race and multiplayer split screen/system link, but the meat of the game lies within the career. Beginning anew, the game will ask which region you're associated with: North American, European or Asian. This is important, as it will decide which vehicles are initially available for purchase, and how expensive they will be. Imports are obviously more expensive than domestic models, so if you fancy a BMW, you might not want to start off in Asia.
Like any other racing sim, advancing in career mode will earn you money, points, achievements, new cars, new tracks and, of course, a variety of other unlocks. With that said, winning races is vital to your progression in Forza Motorsport 2, and the faster the cars, the harder the races. Fortunately, you'll never really be "stuck" at a certain race or unable to advance at any point, as the rules of engagement are in your hands. At the start of each race, a window with the race's settings appears, allowing the player to change opponent difficulty, turn on or off a variety of vehicle performance assisters (like ABS or traction control) and, most importantly, show or hide driving aids. Driving aids are essential to understanding and coping with the learning curve FM2 demonstrates. Handling of vehicles is somewhat different from other games, so to lend a helping hand, the driving aid places arrows on the track illustrating the path to follow, when to accelerate, and when to brake. It's a really handy feature that can help someone who's completely new to the racing simulation genre get the hang of things real quick.
Now if you're like me, you'll get somewhat bored constantly racing against the AI, winning races and advancing up the ladder. Fortunately, Forza Motorsport 2 goes the extra mile and allows career advancement through online multiplayer over Xbox Live. You and all of your buddies can get together, taunting each other as your cars get progressively better and trying to pull off all sorts of moves at 180 mph. It can be an amazingly enjoyable multiplayer experience, and it also advances your single-player game. However, should you care less about the advancement of your career and more about simply tearing it up on the track, there are always standalone single races. More importantly, should you want to show off your skills to the world and bring your "A game," FM2 hosts bracket tournaments fairly often, but be prepared because the competition is fierce.
With all of the multiplayer competitiveness that FM2 brings to the table, you can expect to see quick, intense and epic maneuvers that narrowly avoid taking out half of the racers in one shot. Luckily, even if you're not participating in the race, you can still watch it. There's an entire section of the online lobby dedicated to spectating races where you can tune in and watch from all sorts of different camera angles and positions. In addition, the online portion of FM2 isn't all about racing; there's an online marketplace. If it's finally time to sell your BMW or Mercedes, simply list it up on the online marketplace with a price and watch as a loving new owner swoops down and completes the transaction. With that in mind, you can also gift cars to other players on XBL by simply providing his/her gamertag.
Graphically, Forza Motorsport 2 really utilizes the resources of the Xbox360 in that it delivers an amazing quality experience with multiple cars on-screen at once, zooming by at 135 mph, while holding a consistent 50+ frames per second. All of the tracks are well populated with all sorts of flora and advertisements and stands full of people, really adding to the overall experience. There are a few interesting maps, like the one that takes you around Times Square in Manhattan, New York, while adoring fans stand inches away from the mere concrete wall that separates you. The cars themselves look stunning and in some screenshots that compare it to the real thing, it's somewhat difficult to differentiate which image is real, and which is from the game. Unfortunately, there are no interiors to speak of, but most of the adjustments you make to the car, such as the addition of custom parts, can be seen.
Forza Motorsport 2 really delivers in the sound aspect as well. Different cars sound like different cars, and the sexy purr of a Ferrari's motor echoes that of real life. The sound of skidding out really seals the deal on how awesome your last epic maneuver was in narrowly avoiding a three-car pileup. Unfortunately, however, some of the engine sounds are recycled for different car models, and there's more of a "car group" sound set than a specific car sound. That exception aside, you'll easily find yourself lost in the audio and visual goodness that FM2 so readily offers.
If you're looking for an excellent driving simulation to add to your collection, then Forza Motorsport 2 is, hands down without a doubt, a superb addition. Thanks to the driving aid system, it offers a racing experience that can be modified to suit any player's desire and skill level. If you're a big fan of online playability, then you'll also enjoy FM2 to its fullest. Simply put, you'll quickly lose yourself — and track of time — enjoying hours on end playing this visually stunning, excellently constructed racing simulation game.
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