Forza 2 is a pretty intensive game. It is good, it can be better but is it worthwhile to play? Forza 2 is a hot debate between Gran Turismo 4 and perhaps the Need For Speed series.
The game is great, it has superb graphics, somewhat. When you first pop in the game, you can easily take a car for a spin. However, you might notice a few oddities. The cars look as if they were cell shaded. Cell shaded is a form of graphics that resembles comic book style artwork. This is noticably different than the Gran Turismo series. If you look closely at the edges of the car outline, the lines are thick and black in colour, which is typically what is drawn in comic books. While, it may look unique (in a comic book), it certainly does not look as realistic. Afterall, Forza has been known to compete against Gran Turismo.
By default, there is no music during racing sessions, even though the main menu sports a wonderful tune. The developers should have added some racing music that can be turned on or off by the user instead.
The sound effects is average at best. The cars do not sound terribly welcoming nor life like. The tire screeching sound effects is painful to the ears. I understand that those harsh sound effects may not be pleasing to the ears but I often found that it was necessary to turn down the volume because it was just that unbearable.
The artificial intelligence is terrible. Often, the other cars will ram into you regardlessly as if you were not there. They do not ram into you if they are behind you but will do so if they are to your sides. This is poor design because your driving line may intersect theirs, which may cause a collision. In professional racing, drivers must share the road.
There is not a lot of variety in the game. At the beginning of the game, the first 20 or so races take place in variants of the same track. That is, the track is slightly modified only. This gets really boring!
Most of the cars are tuned cars, though they do not handle like one, when the driving aids are turned off. If you come from a hardcore Gran Turismo simulation racing, you will definitely notice the arcade style of racing in Forza 2. The physics engine is aweful. If your car plows the grass, your speed reduces from 100mph to 20mph in less than a second. If you ram another car at top speed, your car suddenly grinds to a halt upon impact.
While the game does incorporate car damage, most of the time, after a heavy collision, you will find yourself restarting a race. The car damage impairs your car's abilities such as speed or handling.
Photo mode exists in the game, just like in Gran Turismo. There are a lot of features that you can use to adjust the image such as exposure, or shutter speed that can be used to produce different types of photos. Unfourtunately, the images are compressed so the actual product is not as clear. You may notice some of the artifacts and fuzz in some of the sample images.
The photo mode has a lot of options to adjust the final image. Here, cars in the foreground have the main focus.
The developers have decided to not use anti-aliasing because you can notice the jaggies in the game. On the other side, this enables a more crisp picture and the player can see further distances. I find that objects in the distance can be quite sharp. The graphics in Forza 2 is often sharper than the graphics in Gran Turismo 4 for this reason. Unfourtunately, this also generates a less realistic visual because the graphics is too hard. Sometimes, the game looks as if miniature toy cars were placed on a race track.
The game engine does not do a terrible job at reflection. In fact, you can pause replays, navigate inside the photo mode to view reflections in real time. For example, clouds and other surroundings are reflected on the car's rims, and bumper. This is done very well.
If you want a pure simulation driving game, stick to the Gran Turismo series.
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