Review by Wolf Feather

Reviewed: 01/25/04

Able to Swap Paint with the Ridge Racer Series

Ford Racing 2 is definitely a far superior game to the original Ford Racing, which appeared on the original PlayStation in March 2001. While many may scoff at a racing game featuring only Ford vehicles, the true genius of the game shows in both the race venues and the overall gameplay itself.

The most critical aspect of any racing game is the physics engine; if there are flaws with the physics engine, then the gameplay suffers greatly and the game's enjoyability factor plummets (All-star Racing is a prime example of a game with virtually NO attention paid to the physics engine). Ford Racing 2 has a nice, solid physics engine which is definitely better than average for arcade-style racing games. The handling is nicely variable depending on the model of vehicle chosen for an event; there is a noticeable difference in handling between the traditional FR drivetrains and the MR drivetrains, for example, and older vehicles (such as the early Mustangs) are definitely more challenging to drive at high speeds than more modern vehicles, especially when cornering.

The selection of vehicles, gameplay modes, and race venues in Ford Racing 2 is also far superior to its predecessor. More than thirty vehicles are available, but almost all must first be added to the player's Collection (''garage'') by completing the appropriate Challenges; plus, a Challenge must be completed at each difficulty level to use that vehicle in higher-difficulty events later. Seven gameplay modes provide a great variety, but even these must be unlocked by winning Challenges first. Sixteen race venues (comprised of six different environment themes) are also available, almost all of which must also be unlocked by first completing various Challenges.

Where Ford Racing 2 could use some ''help,'' however, is in the tuning area. NO tuning options are available in this game, which is somewhat sad. Even just the ability to change tire compounds, upgrade to higher-powered engines, etc., would help to provide the player with an extra edge over the competition, especially in the Hard difficulty events. Allowing more color choices per vehicle would also be nice in terms of aesthetics.

A ''neutral'' aspect in Ford Racing 2 is the lack of damage. Typically, if a game uses licensed vehicles but there is never any physical damage shown, it is because the vehicle manufacturers have not granted damage modeling in the licensing for the game. While damage modeling would certainly make the game more interesting from a strategic standpoint, the lack of damage to the vehicles allows the player to freely bang around the circuits, bouncing off barriers to force sharper cornering, ramming competitors off the roadway, etc. Certainly, this is far from professional in terms of driving conduct, but in the final sprint to the Finish Line, such tactics can mean the difference between winning and finishing in last place.

Ford Racing 2 is definitely not able to compete with the Gran Turismo series, but can definitely swap paint with the Ridge Racer series. It is truly unfortunate that Ford Racing 2 is not receiving much attention, as it is a worthy addition to any serious player's collection of racing games.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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