"A decent stop gap until Gran Turismo 4 arrives"
Ford Racing 2 allows you to take some of the most recent and most famous Ford models out for a spin on numerous tracks. There are two primary game modes; challenge and collection. In challenge the cars are split into categories such as SVT and Movie stars and to unlock the cars you have to defeat the challenge associated with them.
Ford Racing 2 in this mode offers a number of challenges such as drafting (where you have to sit behind the car in front for a period of time to gain speed), racing line (where you have to follow a racing line, straying off it incurs a penalty), time attack (where you have to beat the track record) and many others. Some challenges can take only a few minutes, whilst others can take a while due to a larger number of laps or goals which must be completed. This mode features three difficulty levels. At the easiest level most racing fans should be able to breeze through the game quite easily.
Ford Racing 2 features thirty five of Fords cars but it doesn't feature the XR8 from Australia. As well as this some of the cars appear twice such as the Ford Focus which has its street model featured as well as a souped up turbo version. You will find a good variety in the cars ranging from the early models such as the Ford '49 through to famous models such as the '68 mustang and right through to today's such as the Ford Focus.
The problem with Ford Racing 2 is it completely focuses on Ford motorcars which will turn some people away. Obviously with the title name that was to be expected but its hard not to realise that had the developers licensed some more car manufacturers then it could have been even better. Ford fans are going to love this game but if you don't like Ford cars, then there isn't much for you to like. However in defence of the game, it makes no qualms about this fact.
In the collection mode you get to play around with what you have unlocked. You have to unlock tracks, game modes and the cars to use in this mode. This mode allows you to race cars in challenges which aren't available in the challenge mode for that model. For instance the challenge for the Focus RS is an elimination style race. In collection mode you can take the RS into any of the unlocked challenge types.
Ford Racing 2 features highly detailed and accurate car models but overall they do look plain. There is also only two viewpoints; bumper cam and rear cam. Obviously using bumper cam increases the sense of speed significantly but even using the other cam the game travels along quite nicely. Once nice touch is that the speedometer changes depending on the model you are using. For instance the Mustangs have a different speedometer to today's cars.
The controls of the game are quite good but there is one major discrepancy I have with them. To accelerate you really have to push the X button right in, so much so it leaves an indent on your thumb. Many times during races I slowed down after being in top speed just because I wasn't pressing the button right in. Other then that its fairly standard with the left analogue stick used to steer and the face buttons used for accelerate, brake, handbrake etc with the triggers used for gear shifting. Don't expect simulation style handling with Ford Racing 2, its all arcade. Different cars do have different styles of handling however.
Ford Racing 2 features a variety of race tracks to race on. Some are set in real world style levels (in one level you drive over the Golden Gate Bridge) with roads with no traffic the norm. However sometimes when using cars such as the stock cars you will race on actual race tracks. There is lots of movement on the tracks and it reminds me of Daytona USA. For instance on one track you will see a train drive past. The great thing about having all this movement is that the frame rate remains stable and did not drop once during play testing.
Visually Ford Racing 2 is a mixed bag. The cars as mentioned before look highly accurate but can look plain as well. The environments however are highly detailed and feature lots of moving objects. The tracks are quite enjoyable to race on and are aesthetically pleasing. Each car features a unique sound effect for its engine and the music is a rock style soundtrack. Multiplayer is offered on the same console only.
Overall Ford Racing 2 is a quality racing game which suffers from the fact it only features Ford cars. If you love Ford cars then you will love this game, if you want to pick up a decent racer and don't mind the fact its limited to one manufacturer then this could be the one for you. However if you like the fact that in other games you can try a variety of different manufacturers, rent this one first. It's a great game but lacks the variety to keep most racing fans interested for a long period of time.