Thursday, July 12, 2007

VG Review: Forza 2

"Forza Motorsport 2" Microsoft, for the Xbox 360 rated E for Everyone, $59.99.

At first glance, it's hard to know what to say about "Forza Motorsport 2."

This is largely because the game is so well-balanced, so player-friendly, that its virtues lie not in overt, easy-to-spot attributes, but in the minute, background details, the artificial intelligence of your computer opponents, for example, or the way different cars handle the same track.

It's not until you take a step back that you realize what a seamless and well-balanced game it really is.

That shouldn't be too surprising to those who played the first "Forza" game, which was one of the best auto racing titles ever made.

For the sequel, the developers wisely kept to the basic formula, doing little to alter or even tweak the formula, beyond upgrading it for the new Xbox 360 console.

As with the first title, "Forza 2" is a "simulation" racing game, which means it relies more on real-life driving physics and mechanics than any fancy arcade tricks. There's no pulling crazy hairpin turns or high-air jumps here.

Ostensibly that suggests it's a game made for serious auto and racing fanatics only, but the cars are responsive enough and the game play is accessible enough that anyone would be able to pick up and play without feeling excluded.

There are two basic modes here, arcade and career. Arcade offers nice, once-and-done races, but career is where you'll spend the bulk of your time. More than 300 cars from 50 manufacturers can be unlocked here.

Winning races in this feature nets you a certain amount of CR or credits (known in the real world as "cash"). Garner enough CR and you can level up your driver (i.e. you) and that in turn gets you discounts on car parts and new cars. Thus, you can upgrade your automobile as well and smoke the One feature I was happy to see return is the suggested line, which shows you the ideal path to take your car along the track and even when to brake and when to hit the gas. You can lose points however, for utilizing such a cheat, so you might want to turn it off if you're looking to level up quickly.

One of the nicest additions to this sequel is its new online feature. Now you can not only race other players via Xbox Live, you can also auction off the cars you buy and upgrade.

"Forza 2" might seem overly familiar at times, and I would have liked to have seen a greater variety of tracks, but those are minor quibbles next to what's been accomplished here. This is a friendly, fun racing game that's also surprisingly deep and intricate, allowing you to tailor your game play as you see fit. There're not many video games -- driving or otherwise -- you can say that about.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2007



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