polsci's Forza Motorsport 2 (Xbox 360) review

It's All About The Cars...

In the Forza world it is all about the cars. In this sequel to a very solid racing sim, Turn 10 improves on the formula they surprisingly nailed from the get go. This time however, there is the strong pull of achievement points, leveling up and playing CARPG that pull you through the 50 some odd hours it takes to get through the career mode.

There are hundreds of cars ranging from slow production cars to the fastest elite racers in the world from all parts of the globe. Cars are either won or purchased by racing through career events. There is also an auction house through Xbox Live for seliing and buying cars from other Forza gamers around the world. There are gamers who spend alot of time designing, customising and fine tuning some sweet looking cars.

Since Forza is a sim racer there is a great deal of attention paid to car customization. It is the CARPG component to the game since it resembles the weapon and skill upgrading in RPG games. Just about everything that makes up the car can be upgraded from the engine block, cams and exhaust to springs, dampers and fuel systems. You can also fully customize the look of the car by changing color schemes, adding decals, changing rims and aero packages.

My only major complaint about Forza 2 is it's lack of track variety. Since the career mode takes about 48-55 hours for most players to complete, you will be racing the same tracks over and over again. This does get tedious and boring after awhile. The one plus in all of this is that because you are so familiar with the tracks, you really notice the differences in the way the various cars perform. How much you need to brake heading into a turn, how hard you crank on the gas coming out of the turns, and how heavy (or light) the car sits on the track all depend on the car and how hot your tires are. However, a few more tracks would have been very welcome.

My other complaint is a small one, but one that would make a big difference - and that is immersion. Several design choices make it hard to feel that you are participating in anything more than simple laps around a track. Your pit crew is non-existent. Pit your car and you hear the sounds of the crew working but you see absolutely no one. Besides your monetary earnings from winning there is nothing that makes me feel like you're on the racing circuit. I'm not asking for TOCA Race Car Driver story, but something more that just watching credits and stats going higher.

Unlocking cars and stat tracking does do a good job of keeping you motivated though. Each race will add to your bank, add to your overall rank and level up your car. Each rank unlocks new cars for purchase and every 5th rank gifts you a new car from your home country. Completing brackets of races in different categories in career mode also gifts you cars. These are usually cars needed to race in other brackets, so don't sell them.

Of course there are also plenty of achievements to earn, just don't buy this game expecting to quickly farm points. It will take you at least 20 hours of driving just to collect 100-200 points.

On the web I would suggest you visit forzamotorsport.net and check out the stats page after you've linked your account to the site. You can also upload photos and see what's in the auction (but you can't bid from there). The forums are good and if you have any questions you will likely find the answers there.

It is very easy for me to recommend Forza 2 to racing game fans, there is alot there to fall in love with. Overall the game is rock solid and a step forward in the series. Hopefully we will see a sequel that fleshes out the experience further since the game's potential is tremendous.

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