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Review: Forza 2 Motorsports

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Jack the giant GT killer has returned. This time he comes in HD at 60fps with over 300 cars, online racing and customizable paint jobs. Forza 2 is everything that I could have hope for, plus some. The online community is a huge cherry on top of an already stupendous single player game.

Forza 2 Motorsports is chalk full of many racing options. There’s arcade, career and multiplayer. Arcade gives you 3 different types of races; Exhibition, Time Trials and Free Run. Exhibition is your standard pick up and play racer. It’s the first thing you should do in the game to become familiar with the controlsforza1.jpg and gameplay. They have a series of tracks setup and a limited number of cars to choose from. The goal in Exhibition mode is to win races. As you win races, you get cars for prizes. These cars can be later upgraded and painted or sold for money in Career and Multiplayer mode. There are a slew of tracks you can unlock too. With each track you unlock, you get a chance to win even more cars.

Time Trials are like exhibition mode except you are racing to beat the clock. As you go round and round the track, you’ll race against a ghost from every lap. Ghosts are a good way to tell if you are doing better than the last lap or not. All you have to do to win a time trial is beat the Target Time set for the track. It’s not as easy as you think. During the race your tires wear out and you get less traction. If you are going to beat the Target Time, you should do it in the first 3 laps.

Free Ride is just that…you pick a car and race on any of the unlocked tracks that you have. All your race times are saved on Xbox Live scoreboards for you to compare.

Career mode is where the game really begins. This is where the gearheads will start drooling while I scratch my head. One of the reasons this review took a little longer than usual was that I had to learn cars. I had to learn what things like differentials and rollbars do. In Career mode you can buy cars for your garage, upgrade your cars, paint them, tune them and then race them in all modes including online. The Career races award you with money and vehicles for winning. Money is used to purchase all your upgrades and new cars. There are several race types. Some races require you to have a Japanese car or a RWD car to compete. Even though you might not like some of the cars you get from winning in Career mode, you might need them later on.

forza3.jpgMy first car was a Lexus LS300. I won a few races, sold some cars and bought every upgrade for this car and it’s final class was S. I gave it a simple paint job and it looked beautiful. On the track however, it sucked really bad. It would constantly spin out and take up to 10 seconds before it got any traction. I tweaked the gear ratio left and right and still couldn’t get the car to stop spinning out. I should have been able to smash the pedal and drive off. I finally realized that the Lexus LS300 just wasn’t a good base for an S class car. I downgraded some of the parts, turned on the tractions control system and now it is an A class racer that performs well. Sometimes to get what you need you have to spend time and tweak and tweak some more until you get it right.

Career mode has 9 different race types. Each race type has a ton of different tracks and requirements. For instance, Proving Grounds has 10 events and 30 different races. The Amateur cup has 10 events and 34 different races. On the high end, the Professional Series has 10 events and 54 different races. As you gain car level and race level, you’ll get access to more races. All of the races have first place car prizes. If you come in last or 2nd or 3rd, you can always tweak your car and race again until you come in first.

I think the track design is beautiful. I love New York City and Maple Valley the best so far. The tracks come complete with spectators, tires, grass, dirt and lots of burnt rubber. There’s one track that is 12 miles long. All of the tracks are circuit courses. I really wish there were some point to point tracks with beautiful backdrops or sprawling skyscrapers. It would really be nice if Turn 10 added some P2P tracks or even a street racing mode. I’m excited to see what’s available for their first load of downloadable content.

One of the major aspects of the online community is not racing, but buying and selling those awesome paint jobs. Painting aforza2.jpg car requires skill and hours of time. You can’t import graphics at all. You have to use the vinyl stickers to build your image layer by layer. It’s simply amazing what some of these people are doing. I use my money on awesome paint jobs for my collection. You can see my Dragon Ball Z Fairlady Z pictured here in this review.

The auction house is really hot. It’s like Forza 2 has it’s own Ebay built into the game. I sat there for an hour trying to get that DBZ car. There’s always someone bidding against you on a hot item. Thing is, if there’s a minute left on the auction and another bid is put on the item, it extends the auction another 2 min. This totally blows and I heard Turn 10 is taking the extensions out of the game with their next update.

Racing online is at times…not fun. I’ve been in matches with really professional racers. In these races you are expected to maintain your race lines unless passing, keep from bumping into other cars and driving with couth. I’ve also been in matches where people do things like drive the opposite direction just to cause accidents. I was in one match where everyone was doing a demolition derby. They were purposely crashing into each other at high speeds to see the accidents. While you can earn money with online racing, sometimes it’s just not fun and you’ll be stuck creating your own matches or racing with friends.

I haven’t qualified for any of the online tournaments yet. I’m not good enough yet, so I can’t really comment on how well tournament mode is. I do know that tournaments last several days. You just have to be online when it’s time to race. The tournaments are bracketed.

Some of the other things you can do in Forza are take photos of your cars and upload them to forza2motorsports.net, watch other races in progress and gift cars to your friends. Once you upload a pic of your car, you can share it on the internet. There’s a telemetry feature that allows you to view TONS of details about your car. You can turn the telemetry on while driving or record a race and view it during replay. You can view speed and rpm’s, Friction, Suspension, Body Acceleration, Tires, Heat and Damage. It’s an awesome tool if you know what all the details like Camber mean.

Graphically, the game is insane. All of the details of the cars look real. It has realtime reflections and lighting, smoke and dust particles and you can even see the disc breaks turning red as you slow down at high speeds. Turn 10 has done an excellent job at making this game look real. The road blurs by as you drive a high speeds giving you a feeling of…speed. Every little mark of rubber from your tires stays on the track. This also helps you find your lines. In some ways, I think this looks better than GTHD. But I have to admit, the lighting system on GT cars is a tad better. There are certain times when Forza 2 does look like a game. With GTHD, it sustains it’s realistic look at all times. Then again, there’s more emphasis on graphics in GTHD than there is gameplay. Gameplay is where Forza 2 takes the crown.

The gameplay in Forza 2 stands on it’s own. There isn’t a simulation racing game on the market that plays this good. You can make so many adjustments to your car with the tuning tool, that you will significantly notice a difference when driving. If you want more acceleration, you can get it. If you want better handling, you can adjust it. You can do everything you need to make your car more suitable for it’s class. You can lower you ride height, adjust spring stiffness, tire air pressure, camber, differential and tons of other things. It’s not easy at all and you’ll spend hours learning every aspect of this game to make you a great racer.

Forza 2 is a much needed addition to the X360 library. It has a huge community following, great control, awesome graphics and plenty of options to keep gearheads and gamers alike playing for years. Thank you Turn 10 and thank you Microsoft.

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