Opposable Thumbs 

Turn 10's new racing game is the optimal driving simulator game for ... the mechanic? That's right; it's a grease monkey's wet dream — featuring real-life manufacturers of upgradeable parts. With a mammoth stable of available tweaks and overhauls, it's easy to forget that Forza 2 is a racing game — albeit one far more realistic than arcade-style racers Need for Speed and Burnout.

The game environment is huge, with more than 300 cars (plus heaps of upgrades available for each) and dozens of real-life tracks from around the world. (Gotta wonder how much high-octane fuel these developers huffed!)

Forza 2 features authentic wear and tear on your car's parts too (depending on the adjusted difficulty settings). Hit a wall, and yup, your ultra-rare 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 is fucked. In any race, the gamer is able to monitor the amount of pressure and heat placed on any tire around a hairpin turn. It'll give the gearheads hard-ons, certainly, but for the casual gamer, all the Newtonian physics add frustration: Though the dynamics and extensive depths of the mechanical side of Forza 2 captivate, understanding its complexities would, in fact, take an ASE-certified mechanic.

That aside, career mode is the bulk of the game — offering you the chance to buy, win and sell stock and modified automobiles. Each win provides you with credits to use in upgrades and car purchases. But, be warned, the gameplay in career mode is rigid; if your car is not properly tuned, you'll collide with every tire-reinforced wall on the track. The learning curve is as treacherous as the brake-melting turns.

For added stimuli, Turn 10 developed a "Gift" option, in which you're allowed to gift any car in their garage to an Xbox Live friend — hence, gamers can trade cars to complete specification races. Forza 2 also features an "Auction House" where you, in an Ebay-like format, can auction any car to the highest bidder — gaining more credits. The name of the game is insatiability; nothing's more American than the quest to own the most badass, octane-guzzlin', head-turnin' vehicle ever fashioned from steel and fiberglass ... even in a videogame.

Dustin Walsh is a freelance writer. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

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