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Publisher: Feral Interactive    Genre: Sports
Min OS X: 10.2    CPU: G3 @ 800 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 250 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Ford Racing 2
January 5, 2005 | Michael Miller

Click to enlarge
Anyone familiar with the gaming world for several years has, no doubt, heard someone lament that one or the other game genre is dead. Adventure, strategy, puzzle games... all of them. But one genre that you will never hear pronounced as doomed is that of racing. For the Mac, in particular, there may not be many, but one can rest comfortably assured that they will be coming.

It's one of the most obvious concepts for a computer game, even if only because games are often our way of experiencing something we never could (or never would even want to) approximate in reality. The test, then, for a quality racing title would seem to be how much it makes us feel as if our high speed racing dreams have come true.

Ford Racing 2, brought to us by Feral Interactive, is one of the latest titles to try and tackle that challenge.

What It Offers
As the title would indicate, the game focuses on various vehicles manufactured by Ford - in fact, exclusively so. For anyone looking to set up the ultimate grudgematch between a Corvette and a Mustang, this is not the place to go.

This may seem disappointing, but the game overcomes this by focusing on delivering a huge amount of content Ford related content. While not a Ford expert by any means, I would hazard a guess that if Ford has made it, you can race it in this game. There are classics from the '40s onward, concept cars, stock cars (who would have thought a Focus could be fast?), trucks, and everything in between.

To get to all this vehicular goodness, the game makes you jump through a few hoops. You start with a number of vehicles, tracks, and modes available and you have to play through them to unlock more. At first, this would seem to lock you out of getting to what you want because each vehicle that comes unlocked is tied to a certain track and racetype. The end result, however, is to acquaint you with each of the many race varieties available, each of which is well worth investigating and one of the larger features of the game. The varieties are:

Standard: This is self explanatory, or so I would hope.

Racing Line: This is one of those I originally thought somewhat pointless, because all it does is it places you alone on a race track with a time limit and a line drawn on the road you have to follow. If you don't follow the line closely enough, it goes red and you start losing time faster. The point to this, as it turns out, is to learn the proper way to drive a track. Considering my (virtual) driving style would incite the most apathetic cop to pull me over for DWI, I found it useful training.

Elimination: An excellent idea, in which the last two vehicles on a lap are disqualified. This means that you have to be at least third the first time around, at least second the next, and then first on the last lap. I was surprised at how much tension this added to a race.

Driving Skills: Basically slalom on a racetrack, you are tasked with zipping along the road in-between the carefully placed yellow cones. Good for taming the wild and undisciplined driver within, it will let you become better at driving in the game in general.

Drafting: This is a feature I confess I'm not sure is improperly employed, or I'm simply incapable of using it. Drafting refers to the practice of (insofar as I have always understood it) driving close enough to the car in front of you to where you are sharing the same air bubble created from going so fast. The end result is that you save fuel and both of you can go marginally faster. In game, however, there is no fuel to worry about, and I didn't notice any particular benefits from drafting. Regardless, this mode gives you a single car zooming along so that you can practice getting behind, at distances far too close to possibly be safe. Once you are close enough, a meter appears to show you how well you are succeeding.

Duel: As you would expect, throughout the track you are racing one car. However, if you beat your opponent on the first lap, a different car replaces it, and so on until the last car you are racing is substantially more difficult. If you lose any of the laps, you are disqualified. This was a lot of fun, because of how the challenges changed with every lap.

Seconds out: A solo race, with little hourglasses scattered along the road that you must pick up to increase your time limit.

Time attack: Just you and a time limit together for some quality time.

In the games with a time limit, a little ghost car of your best lap will appear driving in front of you if you aren't doing as well on the current lap. Technically, this shows you a better way to drive. It also serves to make you feel particularly futile, when you realize you can't even beat yourself.

While I'm not a fan of every single one of those options (I generally dislike time limits) enough of them were far more fun and interesting than I had expected to make me appreciate all the variety available. To complete these offerings, of course, there are a number of tracks on which to race, a total of sixteen. They have a nice variety - from regular race courses to stock car circles and off road excursions for the truck lover - but don't offer anything particularly new or inventive in terms of gaming racetracks. This isn't exactly a problem, but it is something I've noticed about most racing titles.


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