Racing game fan’s generally fall into two distinct camps. Those who love high speed, adrenaline fueled, “Burnout” style arcade racers. They aren’t interested in realistic physics or accurate tire pressure readings, they just want to go fast and maybe smash into a couple things along the way. Then, there are the sim-heads. They want the most realistic racing experience possible, one where you can tweak every aspect of the car from tires to tail lights. The first group can go ahead and stop reading now, because Forza is all about realism.
Forza 2 improves on just about every aspect of it’s tremendous predecessor. Hundreds of cars, each infinitely customizable, and each as accurately modeled as possible. Tons of tracks to pilot those rides on, and an incredible physics system that makes sure your trip is as realistic as your as it can be-.you know-.cause you’re never going to climb behind the wheel of a suped up Porsche 911 in real life.
When you cram as much into a box as Forza does, you’re bound to make a sacrifice somewhere. The game takes a slight hit graphically, and you’ll notice some jagged edges on the horizon and vehicles. This is not to say that Forza is a bad looking game by any stretch, the damage modeling and realtime reflections are things of beauty. The car’s are incredibly realistic, and over time you’ll begin to notice the subtlety of the level of detail in this game. Of course, race fans know that when it comes right down to it frame rate is the most important part of creating a believable and enjoyable experience, and Forza nails it. The game runs at a silky smooth 60fps, and the physics run at a blistering 360fps.
From a gameplay standpoint, fans of the original Forza will be instantly familiar with the setup. The section of the game that will likely steal most of your time is the incredibly deep career mode. In this mode, wannabe racers will jump in their ride and race through the wealth of career series’ the title offers. Over the course of their career, your driver will gain levels based on the amount of credits you’ve amassed. Gaining a new level will allow you access to new cars and races, and the progression is easy to get addicted to.
Also easy to get addicted to is the racing itself. The realism in this game never ceases to amaze. Don’t expect to be “power sliding” around the track like in other racing games. Forza demands a level of precision and timing that arcade racers like Burnout can’t offer. The connection between road, car, and driver is constantly on display, and it takes serious skill and practice to master this game on the higher difficulties.
Of course, without great AI you might as well be driving around in circles by yourself. Forza delivers in that department as well. Computer controlled racers seem intelligent and skilled, if a bit overly aggressive. They’ll look for the best lines, and the best opportunities to make you choke on their exhaust. Unfortunately, even with this solid AI your opponents are not all that challenging. You see, you’ll always be racing against those opponents in stock cars, while your car is constantly being upgraded. Which means as long as you don’t go pinballing around the track, you’ll have plugged enough money into your car before too long to make it through most races without challenge. Some form of upgrade system for computer controlled players probably would have made for a more level playing field.
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The big draw to Forza’s career mode, isn’t the fleet of rides you’ll eventually have stashed in what must be the world’s largest garage, but the intense customization of those vehicles. The paint editor in Forza is the most advanced seen in a racing game, and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything you can’t do in it. It’s possible, and plausible, to spend hours designing your own perfect custom paint scheme. In fact, you may even spend more time painting your cars than you will driving them. Upgrading is awesome as well, thanks to a multitude of options and a clear display of the benefits of each change.
What would a racing game be without great multiplayer, and Forza has that too. From a quick showdown, to a career race, the game gives you plenty of ways to own your friends with that VW Golf you’ve built into a juggernaut. It also offers an online auction house where you can bid on, and sell cars. You can even lock down your custom paint job before you sell it so that xXNevahDieXx23903 doesn’t ruin your perfect Mario themed ride by painting it solid neon green.
Overall, Forza offers a fantastic sim race experience. The deep career mode, and incredible physics engine offer a one of a kind racing experience. Not to mention the replay value of a game with this level of customization. If you’re a car guy (or gal), you can’t afford to pass this one up. Now if you’ll excuse me-I’ve got to get back to putting the finishing touches on my Charger.