Hands-On Preview: Fun with cars you probably can't afford.
The next installment in the Forza Motorsport series is upon us, and promises to deliver more high performance cars, more tracks in different locales, intense multiplayer action, and absolutely no poorly scripted cut scenes where guys with barbed wire tattoos threaten to steal your woman and disgrace your crew!
After a short opening cinematic this one player demo gives you the option of choosing your car from one of three classes. C class sport productions such as the Dodge SVT and Integra Type-R, A class high performance autos that feature mostly European machines from Porsche and BMW, and the ultra high end R2 class racers from such notable names as McLaren and Saleen. There are eight models from each class to choose from giving players a chance to test drive a solid twenty four of the over three hundred cars that will be featured in the full version of the game.
None of the cars are customizable here, but there's still an abundance of information on each ranging from standards such as speed, braking and handling, to more obscure stats like origin and rarity. Since I wasn't ready to step up to any sort of land rocket right away, I went with class C and chose the Integra.
Once in the main game the first thing I took notice of was how fantastic everything looked. Microsoft Games and developers Turn 10 really outdid themselves. The one available track is gorgeous with excellently detailed textures and enough going on off to the side to heighten the sense of realism. The car models all look unbelievable and feature excellent anti-aliasing and reflective detail on the glass and paint. After a few laps I decided to go completely Eddie Griffin and mercilessly smash my car into a concrete wall. The damage effects are top notch! Paint scrapes and peels from metal, windows spider-web and shatter, side mirrors go flying, and bumpers crack and tear off. Even though the damage is only cosmetic, it was quite a sight.
The sound is a big winner here as well, and made me wish I had better speakers. The rock/techno soundtrack is isolated strictly to the menus, and it's understandable as you won't want it detracting from the audio experience of hearing your car whipping through every turn. I was impressed by the attention to detail when my car rolled from gravel to patches of grass off the sidelines and I could clearly distinguish it.
Excellent graphics and sound aside, the best feature I saw (and felt) was the physics. Many racing simulators claim to have realistic physics, but then a majority of the cars feel exactly the same. Not here! Each class of car, and even the different models within each class drove differently from each other, which is awesome. With the customization feature in the full version I'm sure this will only be even better.
All the cars have a great feeling of inertia and weight as you pull them through the turns, and when you step up to a Lamborghini from an RX-8, you're gonna notice. You'll be thankful for the brakeline feature that gives you some guidance through the curves. After cycling through the four available camera angles it seems that the first person view was definitely the way to go. It gave the best sense of speed and control. I can only imagine how crazy it would be if I had that Force Feedback steering wheel.
The full version of the game promises even further realism when damage to your car will actually affect the way it performs. You'll be able to track your damage percentages along with just about every other aspect of your vehicle in the telemetry menu. Features include tire friction, suspension, tire temperature and camber, body acceleration, and more. These are all nice little touches should separate Forza 2 from the pack and make for some highly in-depth races when you take your customized ride online against a buddy later this month.