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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Game Review:Forza Motorsport 2

The sequel improves on the original Forza in many ways, but has it hit the perfect note?

The sequel to 2005’s Xbox racing simulation game Forza Motorsport finally skids into stores with much anticipation. Forza Motorsport more or less retains the original feel and flavor of the first game, but meanwhile, developer Turn 10 studios has also added some new and really cool features like the ability to hire a driver to do the racing for you. If you like cars like I do, you will probably like Forza Motorsport 2. You name it! You could find every possible car in the world in the game. So, how did the game stack up?

First things first, the moment you pop the disc into the drive, you should be able to notice how the graphics have been enhanced. The roads look more realistic than ever and the environments have been brushed with more details. Windscreens, windows and the shiny surfaces of cars throw up reflections just like in reality. Unfortunately, the spectators at the roadside still look like lifeless Play-Doh puppets whose movements are controlled by strings. In fact, I find the spectators’ animation to be somewhat stiff; they do not look real. The damage physics of the cars more than compensates for that, though. When your cars flirt with other vehicles or the barriers, parts come off – and they stay there on the road instead of performing some magical disappearance acts. Skid marks can be seen on the roads as well. Drift and you will see smoke emerging from beneath the wheels of your cars. It all makes for an immersive and engrossing driving experience.

Forza Motorsport 2 excels visually, but there is nothing worse than a game that has good graphics, but lacks variety. Fortunately, Forza Motorsport 2 does not disappoint. Cars – you will be spoilt for choice. 300 of them are packed into the game, with 3 more free cars to download if you get the Collector’s Edition. In addition, there are also many tracks to keep you occupied. It is a pity that races do not take place in different weather conditions; all take place during bright, clear, normal daytime conditions. That is not to say the game is not challenging. The suggested line assist has been given one more option: it only appears when you are braking. This is a welcome addition since the first game only gives you the option to either turn the line on or off.
Upgrading you car is a norm in this game, and there are several parts that can be upgraded, from engine, brakes to a lighter car body. For players who like customizing the body of their cars, they would find the game options to be a blessing. A new feature, auction house, not only allows you to sell your cars online, but also buy them from others.

Content-wise, the game is a ‘gargantuan’. It has arcade mode, time trial mode and the main career mode, as well as the solid online multiplayer. Split-screen and system link multiplayer are also supported. The career mode is extremely long. 3 weeks into the game, I have only completed 45% of the career mode. Perhaps that is when another of the new features comes in handy. You can hire drivers to race for you, but there is a catch: They take away at least 55% of your race winnings. Depending on the skill level of the hired driver, the percentage of the race winnings taken will be higher, with the highest being 100%. This feature is especially useful when you do not need any credits (currency in the game) or are racing in the endurance race events, where a single race could take up over an hour. Surprisingly, this is also the area where Forza Motorsport 2 needs improvement: The career mode, while extremely long, is also repetitive. You will find yourself racing on the same old tracks over and over again, and when the credits required to progress to the next level increase significantly in the later stages of the game, the career mode becomes more of a frustrating and repetitive affair than one of a rewarding experience (the game does reward you with discounts on car, car parts, gifts of cars, and unlockables, though). In fact, the only thing that kept me playing at this stage is not the fun factor of the game, but the Xbox 360 achievements, which unfortunately, are also relatively hard to get. Then, the game ends up as boring.

Final Comments
To sum up the new features, there is also Tournament TV, where you can watch Xbox Live races and then, there is the ability to take photos and share them online. Overall, Forza Motorsport 2 is a good game, a better one than the first one, but it could be better. Graphics are amazing and some impressive new features are introduced. There is a ton of variety, be it in the tracks or customization options. The single-player experience is exciting for the first few hours or so, but after which, it gets pretty stale, repetitive, boring and even frustrating! I probably would not finish the entire game. The game has a solid multiplayer component, luckily.

[I bought the Collector's Edition. It comes with 3 bonus cars in the form a redeemable code and a book that details the car manufacturers' history and descriptions of selected cars. The book also gives an insight into the making process of the game, including interviews with the people involved in the project.]


The Good:
- Visually appealing
- Immersive and engrossing driving experience
- Great variety in tracks
- Great variety in cars
- Great variety in customization options
- Great variety in car parts
- Great variety in racing modes
- New and really cool features (e.g. Hire a driver, auction house, take photo)
- Lots of content
- Solid multiplayer component

The Bad
- Spectators look bad
- No different weather conditions
- Single-player experience gets stale, repetitive, boring and frustrating after a while!

If you are looking for easy achievements here, you are in the wrong game


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