Having heard some curiosity from other members about this game I figured I’d put pen to paper – er forum and let you know what I think thus far.
First – I was a huge fan of the first game. I spent countless hours completing challenges, exploring the island and collecting cars and properties. To say that I was excited about the sequel is an understatement.
Having said that – here are my thoughts on the game thus far, I’m about 2.5 hours into it and have driven my first car about 140 miles.
The first thing I noticed were the cut scene graphics and voice acting. They’re not horrible, but there’s definitely room for improvement. I find the story silly and unnecessary. Once I got through the initial cut scene it was time to take my first car out for a ride. Right away I noticed that Forza this was not. The handling just feels a bit wonky. There are 3 settings to choose from in the options menu – from full assist to no assists, but I find my current car doesn’t handle the way I think it should. It could be that me in my lowly first Lotus just aren’t sporty enough to begin with to really see how the cars handle.
My biggest gripe isn’t the handling it’s the gearbox. There is an option to use a manual gearbox (my preferred choice), but there’s no option to change which buttons shift which way. The default is that Y shifts up and B shifts down. Now in every racing game I’ve ever played on the 360 (with possibly the exception of TDU) I’ve used B to shift up and X to shift down. This is hardwired into my brain and training it in the new configuration has been frustrating.
Another issue I’ve found is the inclusion of off-road trails. There are several vehicles in the game that can take advantage of them, but the GPS does not distinguish between them and their asphalt cousins. Following the GPS over 5 miles of off-road terrain in an old Lotus at 45mph is not fun. It’d be nice if it offered an all asphalt route.
Overall the Island looks nice. The cars look cartoony but I think that is consistent with the arcade nature of the game.
The bread and butter however is the multi-player. The whole island is like an open lobby. While you’re driving along to your next destination you’ll see icons of nearby players, their level and how far away from you they are. Getting together with a group and cruising the island looking for new locations is a nice way to spend an afternoon. There are also in game clubs you can create for your friends to meet in and post challenges to and I feel overall there was lots of time spent on enhancing the community feel to this game.
Though it has some short comings – I’m not entirely ready to give up on this one yet. I think having an IGC group online would be cool and if you can get past some of the annoyances there may be a diamond shining under all that coal, somewhere or at least some marginally less sucky stone.
If it’s any consolation the game sells for $49.99 at retail (remember the good old days?). If not add it to your gamefly and I’ll see you online!