Microsoft Game Studios Forza Motorsport 2

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Microsoft Game Studios  Forza Motorsport 2

Pros

  • Convincing physics, near-perfect controls, experience system, tons of upgrades, outstanding multiplayer.

Cons

  • Too few environments, somewhat disappointing graphics, moody damage model.

Bottom Line

The graphics is not mind-blowing and the damage model has no middle ground, but between the pleasurable addiction of the long career mode, and the undeniable pull of bottomless online play, Forza Motorsport 2 isn't just money well-spent, it's the best Xbox 360 racer you can buy.

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The American obsession with automobiles might seem odd to those who consider it to be just a simple utilitarian vessel, but to those who appreciate mechanical power and artful bodywork, cars get the blood flowing.

Playing Forza 2, then, is like replacing your heart with a turbo charged pump--it is, without a doubt, the best racing game on the Xbox 360, bar none.

New Car Smell

Simply put, Forza 2 delivers. Every car, track, and mode generates an unquestionably exciting experience at virtually every turn. This next-gen sequel to the original Xbox favorite might offer only twelve environments, and might not stand up to the likes of the upcoming racer DiRT in a beauty pageant, but the 300+ unlockable vehicles are recreated with a tremendous amount of detail.

Forza 2's physics model is also the most convincing we've ever encountered, especially when it comes to simulating tricky tire behavior. When you can actually feel the difference that horsepower, tire alignment and downforce can have on your ride, you know you have something special on your hands.

The Road Less Traveled

Forza 2 also features an enjoyable RPG-lite twist, as every credit you earn by winning races counts toward both your career experience and your reputation level with the particular car you drove. The former unlocks manufacturer discounts and free cars, while the latter opens up discounts on a variety of upgrades. The selection of body kits is sorely lacking, even as the number of vinyl layers you might slap on your sled hits 100, but performance parts are represented in force: intakes, exhaust systems, fuel lines, intercoolers, turbos, superchargers, and more can be analyzed and swapped out if you've got the cash.

The details on the car models are fantastic. It's not photo-realistic but it's darn close.

The details on the car models are fantastic. It's not photo-realistic but it's darn close.

Forza Motorsport 2's twelve environments are cut up into over 45 tracks, giving you a chance to squeal around Silverstone's Stowe corner, and take on a fictitious flat-landed rev-fest through the streets of New York City. The tracks aren't quite as convincing as the physics system, thanks to stick figure crowds and sterile decorations, but the overall character is captured nicely, right down to the sense of panic and fear one gets tearing into Laguna Seca's brutal signature corkscrew just a hair too fast. Still, the small number of actual environments does eat away at the career mode's longevity a little.

Winner's Circle

Online, Forza Motorsport 2 raises the bar significantly for every contender that follows with an array of beautifully implemented offerings. Exhibition races let you cruise a single circuit or a full seven-race series with full control over a laundry list of settings and up to 7 friends, but TrueSkill Career events let you rack up experience points that carry over into the single-player mode, and scheduled tournaments give you a chance to compete against 255 other entrants. Coolest of all for collectors is an auction house that lets you bid on the hottest rides, or offer your own for sale. You can even send a ride to your friend's garage for free, or upload your favorite single-player screenshots to an elaborate community website.

The graphics might not be the mind-blowing spectacle some were expecting, and the damage model sometimes seems to vary between subtle and extreme with no middle ground, but between the pleasurable addiction of the long career mode, and the undeniable pull of bottomless online play, Forza Motorsport 2 isn't just money well-spent, it's the best Xbox 360 racer you can buy.

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