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Forza Motorsport

When it comes to driving games, the bar has been raised pretty high on Xbox. Top titles including Burnout 3, TOCA 2 and the legendary PGR2 are all firm favourites in the office but none have really directly competed with Sony exclusive, genre-shaker-upper Gran Turismo.

If anyone was going to take up that gauntlet it was always going to be Microsoft and they've thrown everything into making sure that Forza can go toe-to-toe with GT.

Forza Motorsport is aiming to be the most exhaustive simulation ever made. And it's got the stats to prove it: two hundred approved production cars from 40 of the top manufacturers.

There are also over 150 after-brand modifications for your ride. Hundreds of leaderboards to compete for online. And a million, probably kazillion, different options for customising your cars. You heard right, a million kazillion. Be impressed.

There is a quick race mode but the heart and soul is Career mode. Unusually, you begin with 70 of the cars unlocked so you can compete immediately in many classes of race. Wherever you race - online, offline, quick race, time-trial or otherwise - you'll be constantly earning credits.

Credits means prizes (unlocking cars, body parts, various modifications) and intriguingly the dosh can be taken online. LIVE gamers now have the opportunity to become their very own dodgy used car salesmen as you're able to trade various vehicles and parts online for credits which can be used offline. Ingenious.

The talk of simulation isn't just lip service. Microsoft have introduced hugely advanced physics, so that each of the four wheels reacts individually to the roads. Curves and bumps - and each square foot of each track - has been mapped out, physically and visually affecting the way the car handles.

For the dedicated petrol head, almost every element of the car can be changed for cosmetic, but more importantly, performance reasons.

If you don't fancy collecting super cars, you could continually beef up a Honda, strip it down, change the handling for specific courses and eke out every last inch of speed from your beloved motor. And start setting record times that no one will be able to match.

However, the game has been designed to have a broad appeal. We found our hands on session on famous Californian track Laguna Seca quite forgiving in nature, as we were able to nail some corners in our TT after only a few laps, although perfection will definitely require putting the hours in.

Those who can't change the water on their motor will find the game can be completed without tinkering under the bonnet - it's just those LIVE world scores will be set by those who do.

Forza Motorsport is racing to Xbox in March