Creativity in Forza 2

Forza Motorsport 2

Creativity isn’t necessarily something that you expect from a racing game, particularly one that fits into the generally formulaic Gran Turismo mold like Forza Motorsport. But, the inclusion of a custom livery maker in the original Forza led many talented gamers to spend hours crafting custom paintjobs. They’re already at it in Forza 2, and as you can see from just a few of my favorite examples here, they results of the new and improved livery editor are quite impressive.

Forza Motorsport 2

You can see a whole raft of custom paintjobs at this forum thread, and another here, and many of them can be found for sale through the game’s marketplace auctions. Just keep in mind that once these paintjobs are created their can be quickly re-applied to another car by the creator, so even if you pay a ton for it at auction you may not be the only one driving around in a Power Puff Girls Eclipse.

Forza Motorsport 2

Oh, and one last thing. Be careful what you put on your cars. If you’re caught racing online with pornographic, profane, or otherwise distasteful paint jobs you may just lose your Xbox Live account

O RLY?

Forza 2 Report 1

Forza 2

So I could just sit down and write up a long, mostly positive but occasionally critical review of Forza Motorsport 2. But, that’s been done, so instead I’m going to chronicle my trip through the game for…well…awhile anyway, helped largely by the game’s impressive web presence. GT4 started the trend by letting you download pictures to a USB thumb drive, which people posted all over the place, but Forza 2 ups that hugely by letting you directly upload those shots to Forzamotorsport.net from within the game, along with viewing your race history, watching auctions, and keeping track of on-going tournaments. Screens only last for a month online, but that’s plenty of time to download and host them elsewhere.

So, when you start an in-game career you’re presented with a region to call home. Your choices pretty will line up with the major groups of car enthusiasts: American, European, and Asian. You choice dictates your initial selection of autos and also impacts how much you’ll pay for cars for non-regions (after you actually unlock them). I went with the second option, Europe, primarily because I couldn’t wait to get my hands on an Elise. Of course you have to start with a rather humble selection of cars and I chose the GTI above. I think it was the double-round euro headlights that charmed me, or perhaps it was that I came this close to buying one as my first car. Or maybe it’s just that it was the cheapest option. Anyhow, it was a little gutless and prone to understeer but some light top-end engine mods and stickier tires helped me to blow through the initial championship, where I picked up a lovely orange Porsche 914-6.

Forza Motorsport 2

As you can see in the pic, has a tendency to kick the tail out. It’s a blast to drive, even now that it’s making a lot more power than it did stock, and cleans house in C-class races. In Forza 2, like in the original, it’s all about car class. Each car is classed when stock and as you add power, add lightness, and add suspension tweaks your car may move from its current class to the next higher one. This sort of system will of course always be inherently flawed in some way or another but it does a reasonably good job of ranking cars and ensuring that you have some sort of equal competition.

Anyhow, onto the important bits: the feel of the game. It’s quite good, it must be said. Cars handle in a perfectly believable way, transitioning from under- to over-steer readily depending on the nature (and subtlety) of your inputs. The GTI screeches straight off the track if you floor it mid-corner and seems to oversteer when left-foot (finger) braking, while the 914-6 of course just wants to hang its low-slung rear end out for all to see. The telemetry is accurate and useful, particularly tire temps helping me to get camber set correctly. Graphics are solid, seemingly slightly improved over the demo, though I must say those brake discs seem to glow a lot more than you’d expect in a stock car.

Anyhow, so-far so-good for Forza Motorsport 2. My garage is already full with a bevy of great cars ranging from a Mazdaspeed Miata to a Lancia Stratos, and the cash is pouring in. I can’t wait to get back to it.

NFS: ProStreet Announced, Cultured

Need for Speed: ProStreet

Well, we were close. Rumors were that the secretive new Need for Speed entry would be called Pro Street. Actually, it’s ProStreet, but hopefully you’ll forgive us a space. Anyhow, the game’s been announced and predictably it’s being billed as the greatest racer ever, with the game’s press release stating it “accelerates street racing culture.” Great.

It seems the focus here will be on fender-bending, with dents being likened to battle scars and the AI being called “aggressive.” What remains to be seen is whether this will do anything to improve the game’s image among the scorned former fans still yearning for the highly-polished and unmolested exotics in NFS games of yore. The game’s due out this fall on every current gaming platform known to man. Keep reading to check out a trailer and some more screens.

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English Forza 2 Reviews Trickling In

Forza Motorsport 2

The game already scored an impressive 36/40 from the Japanese uber-mag Famitsu, but English reviews have been slow to come ahead of the game’s official US release today. Now that the game is hitting stores we have two to share with you, the first from GameSpot, who give the game a 9.2/10, loving just about everything about the game except for its audio and track graphics:

It’s exceedingly rare when you can say that a driving game is built for everybody. Considering how splintered the driving-game audience can be, with the hardcore sim-savvy fans on one side and the more casual, arcade-oriented crowd on the other, most games that have tried to appeal to both markets haven’t pulled it off. However, Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport for the Xbox flew in the face of other such failures. It created a game that was both easily accessible and remarkably deep, with a challenge level so scalable that you’d be hard pressed not to find some setting you liked. Now, Forza has come to the Xbox 360, and expectations are understandably high. In most regards, Forza Motorsport 2 delivers on those expectations. Not only does it continue to improve and tweak an already fantastic driving model, but it also piles on more cars, more tracks, more modes, and more features than you’ll know what to do with. That’s not to call the game flawless, but for every little quirk that pops up in Forza 2, there are a myriad of awesome elements to make those issues practically irrelevant.

Team Xbox also posted a review, theirs a few days ago, coming in a tick higher at 9.3/10:

Forza Motorsport 2’s tire model – developed in partnership with Toyo – is what drives it to supercar status in the world of videogame racing simulations. Forza Motorsport 2’s tire model is working extremely hard in the background, so you may not see it in action (especially with many of the game’s driving assists activated), but rest-assured it’s in full swing and refreshing its data hundreds of times per second (360 cycles per second to be exact). Turn on Forza Motorsport 2’s heads-up tire telemetry if you’re a non-believer. You’ll find temperatures, wear percentages and pressures for each individual tire; real-world accurate because Turn 10 and Toyo love physics (or at least crashing cars in the name of physics).

DiRT Pre-Order Deals, and a Preview

Colin McRae's DIRT

Word comes from Gaming Nexus that Codemasters is going the route of offering some incentives for those who would pre-order, something we find to be much more appealing than an overpriced “Collectors” Edition. Anyone who plunks down cash ahead of the game’s release date will get a code to unlock 10 cars from the start (cars you’d otherwise have to discover through the course of the game) as well as some videos of Travis Pastrana in action. It’s not a huge incentive given you can unlock the cars anyway, but considering included in that 10 are the Subaru Impreza WRX-RA STI version II, the Toyota Celica GT-FOUR, and the Lancia Delta S4, it’s a pretty good package.

Also, IGN’s Aussie wing has posted up a new preview of the game, in which they explore the game’s various gameplay modes, including Rally Raid, which we’ve not heard too much about before now:

Things start to get a bit interesting in the Rally Raid mode. It’s fairly similar to the CORR races, but instead of racing in stadium style environments with buggies, you’ll be shredding up tracks in the bush. They’re not the longest tracks, clocking in at around two to three minutes each, but you’ll often have to battle the other cars for up to five laps. These cars have a couple of unique styles of cars. There’s the mini-SUV-like beasties, which grip to the road like a fly to turd. Then there are the racing trucks, who have a propensity to roll at the merest sign of a corner, and have the acceleration of a turtle on roids.

Mad Tracks Goes Live

Mad Tracks

It’s certainly taken long enough, but Mad Tracks has finally made it to the Xbox Live Marketplace, now able to be downloaded straight to your Xbox 360. While the game offers four-way multiplayer (either locally or over Xbox Live), it only comes with 15 “challenges” (6 races and 9 mini-games) to occupy you, which may not take long to play through. But, if the multiplayer works out well enough, this one should still be a lot of fun for those with 800 Marketplace points to spare.

First Screens of New Need for Speed

Need for Speed: Pro Street

Last week EA started teasing their as of yet unnamed upcoming entry in the Need for Speed franchise with a short video showing a busted RX-8. The video indicated that Thurs, May 31 would be the day that the game is unveiled, but Tiscali Games has a few scans of the game, which they’re calling Need for Speed: Pro Street. The screens are grainy but good. However, as we all know, looking good has rarely been a problem for NFS games lately…

Thanks to Diversion for the heads up.

NASCAR 2008 Xbox 360 Screens

NASCAR 08

The folks at EA were kind enough to share these screens of NASCAR 2008: Chase for the Cup, including one that sure looks like it takes place somewhere either in the gates of hell or awfully close, at least. The screens also show some very impressive reflection effects and track details, but seem to be lacking a bit of polish in some areas. No word yet on exactly when this one will drop, but expect it sometime in the next few months for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PS2.

NASCAR 08
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