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Forza Motorsport 2 review




Our Score:


Platform: Xbox 360

Few would argue that when it comes to console based driving epics, Polyphony’s Gran Turismo series sits head and shoulders above the competition. In fact, Gran Turismo was always such a triumph of accurate racing dynamics and beautifully rendered automotive pornography, that it wasn’t until after Gran Turismo 4 had launched that anything resembling a worthy opponent appeared. That game was Forza Motorsport, and it finally gave Xbox owners a retort, when their PS2 owning mates threw GT4 in their face.

Of course anyone claiming that Forza Motorsport was better than Gran Turismo 4 was skating on thin ice, because good as it undoubtedly was, it didn’t have quite the depth, realism or attention to detail as Polyphony’s masterpiece. But what Forza did have in its favour was a more accessible model. Gone was the need to drive a VW Lupo for hours on end before you could afford a decent car. Absent were the arbitrary challenges necessary to claim your racing license. Forza just got you behind the wheel of the good stuff long before GT, and despite the fact that many Gran Turismo purists will see that as a weakness, the less hardcore PS2 owners would probably whisper, when they knew no one could hear or criticise them, that they quite liked the idea of not having to work so hard in order to have fun!

Forza also added two key elements that were disappointingly absent from Gran Turismo 4 – car damage and online play. The former added significantly to the realism of the gameplay and made you think twice before attempting to squeeze through that impossibly small gap, mid corner. While the second allowed you to pit your driving skills against real life opponents from around the World, rather than the ever dubious in-game AI that seems to plague every racing game in existence.

It was therefore unsurprising that the vast majority of Xbox 360 owners have been waiting with baited breath for the launch of Forza Motorsport 2, with the promise of next generation graphics and physics engines leaving many racing fans weak at the knees. Now that the wait is over, the big question is whether Forza 2 lives up to expectation, but that’s not quite as simple a question as you might think. On many levels Forza Motorsport 2 is a triumph, but on an equal number of levels it falls sadly short of the mark.


October 23, 2009, 7:55 pm

Wow - I have never read a TR review that I disagreed with more. And so am glad to be the first (after 2 years) to post a review to make this clear!

Something that becomes clear very soon with playing Forza 2 is the amount of effort they put into the physics engine and in particular the tyre-modelling. I remember back in 07 when it was launched reading interviews about when the software modellers met with the Goodyear and Bridgestone tyre engineers and quickly realised they weren't going to get the information they came for as they were questioning (and were building into the game) a level of detail, accuracy and knowledge that was beyond even the mainstream real-world engineer.

This level of realism - in my opinion - really comes through in the game.

Riyad hints towards this with reference to the steering wheel, but in my opinion this sense of immersion and realism is there even with the handset controller by just turning off many of the driver aids. (Turn off all stability aids plus the drivers line, and soon you'll find yourself looking out for 'markers' in the change of tarmac colour or grass as you brake or turn in or feed in the gas just like you would on a 'real-world' race track).

All you have to do is ask that your friends - or online competitors - switch these aids off and then you will have a incredibly life-like road race of skill on your hands.

I agree with the point about tuning a 200bhp engine to a 400bhp engine without uprating your drive shaft, but at what point to stop the user having fun vs forcing them to adhere to the rulebook? For me, this was far less important that the physical real-world realism once you're behind the wheel.

Overall, the only thing you could fault this game with was the fact that the AI (although incredibly impressive at pushing it to the limit at the top setting) often - but not always - doesn't avoid collisions at the expense of a better corner line.

But this is something I'm confidently looking to Forza3 to fix....

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