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Published:August 1st, 2007 01:55 EST
Best Racing Game-- Forza  Motorsport 2 for the Xbox 360

Best Racing Game-- Forza Motorsport 2 for the Xbox 360

By Mark Palangio

When the first Forza Motorsport game was released for the original Xbox, it gave diehard racing game fans a killer racing sim to play besides Sony’s Gran Turismo series. With Forza Motorsport 2 for the Xbox 360, the game has been taken to the next level.

First things first, if you’re a casual fan of racing games or prefer arcade style racing games like Burnout, this game is not for you. Forza 2 has everything diehard racing game fans want and love. A huge variety of domestic and exotic cars that can be tweaked endlessly, super realistic driving physics and controls, challenging AI and gameplay, lots of real life tracks, online racing, and a deep career mode that will take over your life.

Sony’s Gran Turismo series has always been considered the pinnacle of racing sims, but Forza 2 has set the bar even higher. The thing that puts this game over the top for me is the way the cars feel and drive. Each car drives very differently, and you really have to adjust your style for each different car. What makes the game feel so right is the fact that the cars really feel like they have some weight to them. It doesn’t feel like you’re playing a video game, it feels like you’re driving a real car. Gran Turismo does a great job with that as well, but Forza 2 does it better in my opinion. Once you get a few laps under your belt and get the hang of these controls, you feel like you’re in absolute control. When you get into the groove, you really get into it and feel invincible. There’s no fighting with the car, and if you make a mistake, it’s your fault, not the controls. I’ve never been so immersed in a racing game before, and I’m a huge Gran Turismo fan.

The graphics in Forza 2 also help to immerse you into the gameplay experience. The cars all look great and have a very high level of detail. The damage modeling really helps add to the realism as well, and it makes you drive much more realistically than you would if your car didn’t take any damage. With the Gran Turismo series, you can use the other cars to collide off of and use as guides when going into turns, and don’t lie, we’ve all done it. But how often do you see that in real life racing? Never? Exactly, and the same goes for this game unless you want to total your ride and waste a bunch of money to get it fixed up. The damage isn’t just cosmetic in Forza 2, it affects the performance of your car if you mess it up badly enough. It really gives you a reason not to cheat and bounce off the opposing cars.

As with Gran Turismo, the main draw of Forza 2 is career mode. For the most part the career mode in Forza 2 is pretty straightforward. You start off with a cheap car and enter simple races to build up money and open up more advanced tracks and cars. The one thing that I really like about Forza 2's career mode is the way you earn discounts on various cars and parts by leveling up your driver and the individual cars. It gives you a reason to keep using the same car for different events, and it really pays off when you go to buy upgrades when you can get them at a discounted price. You also open up various events by raising your driver level, and you’re rewarded with new cars as you level up as well as win races. As mentioned earlier, the career mode is very in depth, and it’ll take you a long time to finish everything that’s offered here. Purists will also want to complete the exhibition and time trial modes in arcade mode as well, which offers even more stuff to do.

As far as the negatives go, Forza 2 doesn’t really give me much to complain about. My one somewhat major complaint is the fact that there’s no in game music during the races, and there isn’t even an option to turn the music on during races. It can get kind of boring after a few hours of just hearing nothing but engines and tires skidding. Luckily you can play music stored on your 360's hard drive during the races, but I would have liked to have seen at least the option to turn on some in game music.

In the end, Forza 2 is a must own for all racing game fanatics. Don’t even think about passing up this game, and be prepared to put the rest of your life in the back seat. Expect to get hooked on this game immediately. It’s gonna be a long while before you ever want to stop playing.

Graphics - 9.0
Very smooth looking overall, great car detail and damage modeling. Tracks offer a good variety of scenery, but the option of racing at night or in the rain would have been nice.

Gameplay - 9.5
Super realistic, each car feels different, upgrades have a very noticeable effect on your cars performance, extremely responsive controls. Once you get adjusted to the controls, you’ll be immersed in the experience.

Sound - 7.5
All the realistic engine sounds and tire squeals you would expect are here, but not having the option of  in game music playing during races really hurts. You can however play music from your 360 hard drive during the races.

Replay - 10.0

Deep career mode with tons of cars to collect and customize will keep you busy for a LONG time. The way you earn discounts on cars and parts is a great feature. Throw in multiplayer, online, and the auction house where you can buy and sell user created cars, and you have a game that is truly worth your hard earned $60.

Overall (Not An Average) - 9.5
Not only one of the best racing games on the 360, but one of the best racing games period, for any system. Casual racing fans will probably be frustrated by the realism and sometimes harsh difficulty, but hardcore racing fans will be saying goodbye to their social lives once they get ahold of this game.