Review: Forza Motorsport 2

I could go on and on about Microsoft’s newest racer but simply put, Forza Motorsport 2 is breathtaking.

Evolutions in gaming seem to be few in far between. Overall, there are some real stunners out there in graphics and gameplay, but most games rarely think outside of the box for the style of game during the design process. The first Forza Motorsport did just that. Now, Forza Motorsport 2 takes that original groundbreaking formula and improves upon it.

Most car racing games seem to only exist as your basic car racer: you start the game, race the car, and try to make it to the finish line the first and the fastest. Forza was that and a lot more. The original allowed you to modify almost every part of your car, paint it, race it, simulate the car with options turned on or options turned off, and ultimately feel what it’s like to race various track around the world in each of those cars without actually owning one. It was a real evolution in racing games.

Forza Motorsport 2 expands on what its predecessor did by making it look and sound better, by giving it more cars and tracks, and ultimately making the game a lot more diverse and interesting by way of some options you probably wouldn’t expect a racing game to have.

Let’s start with graphic quality: it’s brilliant. The cars look fantastic no matter what they’re doing. The reflectivity on objects is gorgeous and the car models are immaculate. When you’re painting and modifying your pride & joy, the vehicle looks brilliant from every angle and the effects never lose an ounce of solidarity. Your scrapes and scratches retain their realism too as bumps, abrasions, and crashes tend to produce different marks on the car, not that you’d want to try to do that all that often, of course. The landscape doesn’t look as good as the cars, and it’s certainly not modeled to the amazing extent that Colin McRae’s DIRT has been, but you’re not there to watch the world go by and it’s not at the bare minimum either. When all is said and done, the graphics are a real treat.

The sound too is brilliant. Engine sounds are as diverse and clear as smashes, pings, and scrapes. The music in the menu sequences is the only place where music exists and it serves the menu well, revving the player up for the game they’re about to get stuck into.

Now, I could be here for ages talking about the gameplay, but I can accurately describe it in one word: breathtaking. My jaw was literally wide open as I was playing and seeing some of the features that you have access to. There are hundreds of cars and they all look & feel right. The track listing is certainly large enough with over 60 tracks including the insanely hard but fun Nürburgring. Telemetry is certainly one of the most impressive features I’ve ever seen as not only the implementation but the extent to which they’ve supplied information and its degree of accuracy is absolutely astonishing. For people who don’t want to go that far into the game, you can play on basic modes and still be challenged as even on the easiest levels, Forza Motorsport 2 is a kitty-litter inducing spell of madness.

And when you’ve had enough of the racing, you can hit the artistic side of things and make your car completely your own with decals, shapes, paint, window tints, car parts, and more. The level with which you can change your cars in Forza is incredible. When you’re done, you can even sell them online in a virtual marketplace where you’ll make in-game money to spend on new cars. The online experience merely starts there with races galore online.

There are a few issues as there are with any game, but none of them impact Forza Motorsport 2 at all, really. Historic car buffs will find fault in cars that predate things like Anti-lock Breaking Systems and traction control being able to use them, but this is more a game design issue than anything else as these features are selected as a difficulty assistance option after you’ve selected your car. Also, the viewing perspectives for the cars lack an interior view from the drivers’ seat. This is an absolute shame as for some that’s the preferred playing position as well as seeing the insides of some of these cars would have been wonderful. But even with those sorts of issues, the game cannot be denied in how simply brilliant it is.

Seriously, this game doesn’t stop giving. I could be here for days picking my tongue up off of the asphalt of one of their tracks as the performance cars drive over it. Forza Motorsport 2 excels in almost everything it puts out and is a worthy addition to the gaming collection of any Xbox 360 owner, whether or not they like racing games.

DeveloperMicrosoft Game Studios
PublisherMicrosoft Game Studios
Classification– G
Formats– Xbox 360
URLForza Motorsport 2

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark