Right around the time we were firing our hundredth missile from a hood-mounted launcher ,while Nitrous boosting through a hollowed out volcano, we got to thinking: Is this all there is to racing games? Well luckily, Forza Motorsport 2 has just shot a resounding “Goodness, no!” across our Xbox 360’s bow that proudly proclaims there’s still greatness to be achieved within the confines of this hyper-realisitc world of ours. Because as far as accurately guiding vehicles around an asphalt track, Forza 2 's painstaking authenticity glistens without peer.
First and foremost are the controls; the game has made phenomenal use of every analog aspect of your controller to create one of the most realistic driving experiences on any console, anywhere. Something about having gas and brake mapped to the left and right triggers makes it feel more like stomping on a pedal than pressing a button or waggling a stick ever could. Oh yeah - there's also that sweet 360 steering wheel if you want to plunk down a few more dollars.
Casual divers need not cower in the face of Forza 2’s daunting realism. The Suggested Line feature - see the red triangles in the screen above? - pin-points the best way to brake and accelerate while carving out turns, proving to be a far better driving instructor than that awful high school gym teacher who publicly mocked your lack of pubic hair. There is a lot of information to soak in via on-screen text. Every facet of your vehicle is there to behold, (even a Rarity gauge for the collector in all of us) and you can soup up nearly every aspect of your preferred ride, from the engine knick-knacks, right down to the rubber compound of your tires. For newbies it can be intimidating at times, but racing enthusiasts will likely dive right in without their helmets on.
Forza2 is very much Microsoft’s answer to the Playstation’s Gran Turismo series, only they've got the dynamic vehicular damage that elevates the game above a mere polygonal car commercial. Roughing up you ride not only forces you to spend prize money on repairs instead of buying new cars and tuning up parts, but it also dramatically changes performance, affecting your steering and alignment.
Rival cars are also keenly aware of your position, and will brake and swerve to avoid possible collision, instead of staying rigidly affixed to an optimal line (like some other racing games that shall remain nameless.) Oh, and before you mangle your chromed chariot, why not take a picture and share it with the world on Forza 2’s official website? It really does last longer.
With so many damn features like hiring a substitute driver to wheel for you, the absurdly deep decal and paint customization, and a plethora of racing and trading to be had via Xbox Live, anybody with the most remote interest in car culture will lose weeks before they even begin to show signs of boredom. Forza 2 absolutely oozes with all the next-gen prowess you'd expect. All of the 300+ cars suitably resemble their real-world counterparts, and the pitch-perfect rumble that emanates from your controller aptly conveys the proper feel of distinctive torque.
As for the track designs, they don’t pop with the same vibrancy you’ll see in racing games coming on the horizon, (other than the buttload of advertisements) but Forza’s overall goal is to foster an unparalleled relationship between tire and pavement - which it achieves in spades. The environments could occur in a dark, unlit box and the core experience of deftly piloting thousands of dollars worth of cherry metal would emerge unscathed.