Forza Motorsport 2 demo review

Yesterday I got home from driving the Ariel Atom at Shannonville Motorsport Park – yes you read that right – and what did I find when I fired up Xbox Live and checked out the Marketplace? The Forza 2 demo!

I have been eagerly anticipating this game’s release for well over a year, tracking its development on the Turn 10 Studios blog over at, salivating over the list of cars every time it gets updated.

Of course, I have a big gripe with list… Um, where’s the Atom at? I hope I’ll be able to download this at some point, either the Atom 2 with Honda K20 or the North American version with 2.0L Ecotec and roll bar. Seriously!

After finally getting to play some Forza2 last night via the demo released earlier in the day, I cannot put into words how much I want this game. So much so, that I just got off the phone with EB Games. It’ll be out in five days on the 16th! I’ll be stopping by later today to pre-order mine for $70, but there’s also a collectors edition (not sure what it includes though). I did check the price for the wireless steering wheel too. At $160, it’s a bit steep but should add some zing for those who splurge on it for FM2.

Getting back to the demo (one of the best my friend and I have played in a while I might add), its about 0.7 GB in size and packs a real punch with 24 cars to drive with or without drivings aids and the full HUD on. I put them on with manual trans as my default, of course.

Available in a huge array of co lours, those cars are as follows: Class C (Sport Production) – 2005 Ford Mustang GT, 2003 Dodge SRT-4, 2002 Honda Integra Type-R (JDM), 2004 Mazda RX-8 Mazdaspeed, 2006 Lexus IS350, 2005 Subaru Legacy B4 2.0 GT, 2003 Nissan Fairlady Z (JDM) and the 1997 BMW Motorsport M3 E36 (European model); Class A (Performance Production) – 2005 Lamborghini Gallardo, 2007 Porsche 911 Turbo (997), 2004 Ferrari F430, 2005 TVR Sagaris, 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10, 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, 2005 Ford GT and 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06; Class R2 (Ultra-high-end purpose-built race cars) – 2005 Maserati #35 Risi Competizione MC12, 1997 McLaren #43 Team BMW Motorsport McLaren F1 GTR, 2005 Ferrari #11 Larbre Competition 550 Maranello GTS, 2003 Pagani #17 Carsport America Zonda GR, 1998 Porsche #26 Porsche AG 911 GT1-98, 2003 Saleen #2 Konrad Motorsports S7R, 1998 Nissan #32 NISSAN R390 GT1 and, finally, the 2006 Chevrolet #4 Corvette Racing C6.R. WOW ALL I CAN SAY!!!

The demo is a single player-only affair and the game’s highly-anticipated licensed tuning options are not accessible (although there’s a short video illustrating the capabilities on a 350Z after the main intro plays and you wait for the start screen to disappear). That’s not to say you can’t drive an already-modified car – those are the R2 ones and the trickiest to drive.

You only get one course to drive – the undulating Mugello Circuit, which is actually a motorcycle track nestled into the Italian countryside. It’s shortened but it’s pretty fun and likely the one most gamers will use to practice on once they’ve bought the game. It has seven turns including one long straightaway going into the hair raising down-up right-hand first turn. On the right side of the second last turn there’s a section you can cut through the grass and pass cars at will every time by. Also noted is the alternate routing (blocked in the demo) on the left going into turn seven, presumably to access the full track (the reentry point is at the exit of turn seven). See last paragraph for more on Mugello.

The cars themselves along with damage modeling are very realistic and the detail on and around the tracks is incredible – just like a real venue on race day with tents, concession stands, fans on the grass, in the stands and press in their usual track spots snapping pictures, race officials looking on etc. I can’t wait to see the rest of the tracks, but I’m not sure how many there are.

Although the demo doesn’t support multiplayer on either your local or Xbox Live network, you can race against your buddy in private chat to see who is faster as my friend and I did. Fastest lap or final result, whichever you prefer. I think I ended up with a slightly-faster lap at 00:58:??, but he fared pretty well against me and I can’t wait to race him on Live!

One glaring omission in the game has to be the lack of a cockpit camera. This is a must for any top racing game, so it had better be in the retail game! Especially since many will be playing with the wireless racing wheel.

As for the coolest features, I noticed that when your picking your car that if you tilt the right stick in a direction for a second or two, the menu stuff will all disappear as the car continues to spin in whatever direction and speed you want, allowing you to check out every angle of your ride!

Even cooler, perhaps, are the race replay functions, which include among others slow-motion replay, multiple camera angles and free-look capability (on certain cameras). Ryan and I both agree that the telemetry data you can access during replays is very cool – almost as cool as when the brake rotors get red-hot under hard braking! SWEET!!! I guarantee this will be a huge thrill in the multiplayer over Xbox Live.

I drove all of the Class A and C cars to victory with full driving aids in no time. I like all of the cars but if asked what my favorite one to drive is, it would be the Gallardo since I actually can compare it to the one I drove in real-life a couple years ago. Once I get access to the over 300 cars available in the retail version of Forza2, I’ll let you know if that still stands up in a few weeks.

Before signing off, here’s one last link to the official Mugello Circuit website where you learn all 15 turns. Until we meet up in the game, keep it on the track and drive it like you stole it mofos.