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.
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.