Let me get this out of the way right up front: I was not a huge fan of realistic racing games. I usually prefer racing games that don't take themselves too seriously and yet, I found myself entranced with Forza Motorsport 2. The sheer amount of cars, tracks, race options, and the paint editor will make just about anyone who likes racing want this game! You should be able to have a good grasp on how the review is going to go right now.
Forza Motorsport 2 is not the most visually stunning game on the 360 but, for the most part, holds its own. The cars are beautiful! Nice and shiny with the background reflecting off them in all their glory, and the driver clinching onto the steering wheel as you take a corner at 150mph. However, the actual race track itself is not really anything to speak of. The road looks like a road and the trees look how they should but, I was rather disappointed in the overall look of the tracks. From what I have seen so far, there isnt much in the way of buildings and such on the courses so they are kinda blah and as you look up to the sky, it always looks like it is going to rain. Back to the cars! The damage system is pretty sweet as well. Sure, the cars don't blow up like they do in Burnout but, when you take a corner at 160 and slam into the side of the course, bumbers will fall off, windows will shatter and break, and things will dent. Good stuff! In the end, the cars are pretty but the rest of it, I am not too impressed with. Of course, I am playing on a standard definition tv so, if you play in HD, you might have a better experience than me.
Music & Sound
As you zoom around the various tracks, you will hear the crowd roaring, screeching of tires, other cars engines revving, and a plethora of other things that will make you think you are right there. Each car in Forza 2 seems to have its own sound which is just great as you can almost guess what car is coming up behind you if you play enough. I absolutely love the sounds when all the cars are in a pack fight for pole position. You can hear gears shifting, motors over reving, and the tires rubbing. The sound of two cars crunching together makes me hit cars just to hear it! As for the music, it is a mix of pop and techno with a little bit of rock thrown in there. By default, the music plays when you are not in a race, which is good cause I need to concentrate! The sounds of Forza are just sweet and they really add to the overall game experience.
Start your engines ladies and gentlemen, this is the part of the review that makes or brakes (gotta love the puns) a game! When you start Forza 2, you have to choose your home region. There are three: North America, Europe, or Asia. This determines what cars are available to you at the start and what discounts you will receive as you progress through the game. You will also be required to select a difficulty and the difficulty you choose determines the credits you will receive when and if you win a race. The more difficult you have it, the more credits you will win. There are a lot of things that determine the difficulty such as turning off the ABS, showing the optimal line, only brake, or no line, damage system, etc.. If you are a begginer sim racer then novice is probable the best choice for you as the opponents are on easy and the full line is shown. The optimal line is what you want to drive along for the best time on the track. Green means accelerate and red means slow down (and they mean it). There are not too many corners you will be taking at 100 mph! Having these helpers on will decrease how many credits you will win at the end of the race. After you get used to it though, you can switch the difficulty at any time. Which is great if you are having a hard time with a particular track. You have 11,000 credits when you start and you will use this to pick a starting car and upgrade if you have credits left. From here, you can go straight to career mode, paint your car, arcade, or time trials. Career mode will start you off at the proving grounds. Not many laps and pretty easy but, there are a lot of them and as you progress more races will be open to you. After you win a race, your driver and car will increase in level. As your driver level progresses, you will receive discounts from car manufacturers. 5% at first and it will go up from there. As the car level goes up, you will receive even more discounts and open up more cars from the dealers. After you win a series, you will receive credits and a car. Driver level also opens up other races. All of which have different requirements such as a certain car, car weight below 2000 pounds, or year of the car. After choosing which race you want, (and after the loading) you have options to hire a driver, tune your car, or buy parts. This is helpful in case you forget to do this before a race. Upgrading a car is rather simple. Each car has its own set of things that can and will be affected buy buying new parts. Helpful hints: Buy tires and weight reduction kits as this will dramatically increase handling. Always check who you are racing against! If their car class is D, upgrade your car to B! This will give you a big advantage usually. Brakes are your friend and you will use them a lot! Slow down more than you think you will need to for the corners cause if you go off track, you will be penalized for that lap! Speaking of car classes, there are a few of them. The classes are: D, C, B, A, S, U, R4, R3, R2, and R1. For the most part, the higher the class the better. However, the U class cars are pretty fast and some of them can out run the R class cars. Hitting the Y button on the choose the race screen will bring up the restrictions of that race. Which I have went over previously but, it is worth mentioning again as it is good to know what cars you have that can be in that race. There are tons of races to go through and you will no doubt want to race all of them. Eventually you will reach the endurance races which are fun to play and keep you on your toes. This is where you will want to have the damage on and gas and tire damage on as well as you will be using the pit in a strategic race. This pretty much covers the career mode. Race, win, upgrade, and collect cars. There is also the time trials. This is pretty simple. They give you a selected car and you attempt to beat the time in order to win a car. Easy huh? Arcade mode is just how it sounds. Just go racing. The paint editor is astounding! As the name suggests, this is where you can paint any car you have won and it is great fun. You are able to paint almost every part of the car not to mention you can add layers. Not just ten layers mind you, you can have a thousand layers on the sides and top of the cars! This makes for some really interesting paint jobs! You have to have patience if you want to make a great paint job though as you cannot import images from the net or your computer. There are basic spapes that are included that you will need to resize, spin, and tweak to make the image you would like. Very time consuming but, well worth it in the end. There is a replay mode and picture mode as well. The replay can be seen after each race and you can save it if you so desire. During the replay you can also take pictures to upload and show off. You can also take a picture of your car after you paint it to show off your mad paint skills.
Unfourtunatly, at the time of this review, I was not on Xbox Live so, I am not sure how well things work, however I can tell you what there is to do online and about the local multi player. You are able to play exhibition races online, career races, and tournaments. Exhibition races are just for you to practice with your freinds or strangers online. In the career races, you will race human opponents to give yourself credits and your online TrueSkill rank. Tournaments are open to a set number of people and after a qualifing round, are split into groups of eight based on the qualifying times. The top four in each bracket advance and the bottom four are eliminated. For each round you complete, you earn credits which you can apply to your career. There are other things you can do via XBL other than race. There is Forza TV which allows you to whatch tournaments and other news worthy things. You can also gift a car to a friend! This allows you to give one of your cars to anyone on your friends list(as long as you are not currently using the car). Then there is the auction house. This is pretty much what it sounds like. You can buy or sell a car. There are filters such as, how much they are, power, class, etc. to help you find the car you would like. They also have a feature for protecting your art work. Locked designs prevent anyone from editing your work, If they try to edit it, it will be deleted and you work is safe. Local multi player is nice if you do not want to go online. There are two ways to play local: Split screen and system link. As I do not have two 360's, I will be going over split screen which I did have a few issues with. You and your buddy can both use your own profile if you both have one. In my case, I used my profile and my friend used the default one. Just as in the career mode, you can change the difficulty to suit your needs. If you have a profile, you can use the cars you have in your garage but, if you don't then you are limited to the cars that have been unlocked as well as the tracks. You can pick a single race or a series and set how many laps you would like the race to be. However, I did not seem to find a way to pick what tracks (except for the first one) you could put in the series. Another problem I had was that there wasn't a way to look at the track you are choosing til after you picked it. So, if you don't know what the track is, you will have to go through three menu screens to find out what track you picked. It is just an annoyance. Not to mention when you and your friend are racing, if he/she hits you, you both get a penalty! I really didn't care for that part. If I get hit and then spin out, I should not get the penalty for the hit. That being said, it is very entertaining racing in split scree mode. I have not noticed any frame rate problems while racing this way and there is not deteriation in the graphics.
Overall, I am pretty impressed with Forza Motorsport 2 as there is more than enough content to keep anyone happy and the ability to change the difficulty is just great. Sure there are some minor issues like the graphics and some multiplayer things that could be better but overall, it is a great racing game that no racing fan should be without. If you have never played a racing game before and are looking for a game to get into it, this is the one. Forza 2 has enough to keep avid fans happy as well as things in place to introduce racing sims to the novice player. If the review was not enough to convince you, there is a demo on XBL that gives you a little taste of the game but, believe me, the demo does no justice to the game.
Graphics: 8.5 I think they could have done a little better for a next gen title
Sound: 9 Wonderful in game sounds and the music isn't too bad either.
Game Play: 9 More than enough things to do to keep you coming back to the track
Multi Player: 8.5 Not quite as much as the career mode but, not bad (not counting XBL)
Over All: 8.5 A well rounded game that should be picked up by any race fan and at the very least worth a rent by any other gamer