Forza Motorsport 2 Review

Note: Before you read this, I want to inform you that I have always been a fan of simulation racing games. Having played numerous titles of this genre across a number of systems, I have spent hundreds of hours as a virtual mechanic, tuning and upgrading my cars to sometimes add as little as 1 mph to my top speed. I think it goes without saying that when it comes to racing sims, I’m extremely critical. Please, remember this as you are reading this review.

Every so often, I come across a game where I stop and think to myself, "These guys get it." Of course, "these guys" refers to Turn 10, the developers of Forza 2. From the menu screen to the online community, it’s obvious that the members of Turn 10 are not only talented individuals, but most importantly, they are fans of their own game. They understand what each player wants to see in their title and satisfy them while offering so much more. Notably, Turn 10 does this without ever burdening the player with an overwhelming number of options or make them feel like they are missing out for playing the game a certain way.

Some racing sims have a habit of throwing everything at you but the kitchen sink with very little explanation (sup, Gran Turismo), and some have a habit of going too far to the opposite end (don’t try and hide Sega GT), but playing Forza 2 is like having a really good-looking person of the opposite sex tutor you in a subject in which you may or may not be interested. You obviously get a great deal of eye candy (the graphics look pretty good), you learn something (the tuning section actually explains what each setting does, and in layman’s terms!), and if you pay attention and play your cards right, you just might get to go to his/her house to do some late night "studying" (spending all night tweaking your new car and taking it online and blowing away the competition). No matter what, though, you are going to have one helluva memorable experience that you’re going to want to tell your friends about (the online community), and if you were crafty, you’ll be able to show off some pictures to your friends to prove it (you can upload in-game screenshots straight to your forza 2 account on

The commercials for this game start off telling you that these cars are perfectly normal and that there is nothing special about them. Isn’t that what we all want in our racing sims? Cars that control, dent, and break like we expect them to? I tip my hat off to you, "guy who came up with the idea for that ad," because for the most part, they really do feel like real cars. But wait, if the cars are so average, why can’t we flip them over? If they become damaged like real cars, why does the damage still not feel entirely location specific? I’m sure I’m not the only one that would have loved to see these features in the game, but I guess you can’t have everything. Oh well, the racing feels so right that most of the time no one will ever notice their absence.

About the audio… The licensed music featured in the game comes together to form one of the best soundtracks in a game yet. After playing this game for countless hours, I still enjoyed finishing a race and coming back to the main menu where I would hear one of the 44 tracks including Faithless, LCD Soundsystem, Orbital, and many others. In fact, it’s too bad they don’t show the name of the artist and song at the bottom of the menus. There is a lot of musical content there that I now want to look into. Until they say exactly why this common feature is absent, I’ll just believe that it was done to seem less like they were shoving another priority down your throat. Essentially, the music may differ in art style, but it all fits wonderfully together.

Now, it’s too bad the sound design couldn’t live up to the standards set by the music. In a nutshell, the vehicles all sound too much alike. A mini cooper and a Le Mans car should sound completely different, but they don’t. The muscle cars sound a little like they should, but they are lacking that earth shattering rumble we are all familiar (and in love?) with. Crashes, scrapes, and little nicks feel unsubstantial even when they are anything but. It seems that most racing games have this type of a problem, so was I expecting anything more? Not really, but it would have been nice.

Some Ignorant Goose-stepping Neanderthals (see what I did there?) say this game lacks soul, but if they weren’t too busy lining their pockets with money from bias and misinformation, they would see that this game has different kinds of soul; a soul typically exclusively held by MMOs such as Everquest and World of Warcraft. This soul is built by the community. More specifically, it IS the community. On gaming sites everywhere, countless people are discussing their cars, how they got them, what parts they bought, how they are tuning them, paint jobs, tournaments, races, etc. — something rarely seen done on this scale outside of MMOs. Take a look at the masterpieces being created in the game’s paint editor and tell me that this game has no soul. I’d argue it has much more than Gran Turismo ever had.

Simply put, Forza 2 is much more than just another racing simulation on the console; it’s the closest thing to the realization of a racing fan’s dream game that we have ever seen. It may not have as many cars or tracks as Gran Turismo, but you won’t really care since the driving mechanics, online racing, and community are that damn good.


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Author: Kyle Stallock View all posts by

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