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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

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Much the same could be said about the racing graphics. On one hand, they are crisp and clear, the tracks are fully 3D (no two dimensional textures simply pasted as a background alongside the track itself) and attractively laid out with plenty of detail. The cars themselves are modeled to shiny perfection, and look precisely like their real world counterparts. I tested this game on a dual G5 with a Radeon 9800 pro, and never experienced any slowdowns. The requirements listed are fairly low, but unfortunately, I didn't have a Mac model that was slower available for the purposes of comparison.

On the other hand, it's also somewhat more of the same, in terms of racing game graphics, simply with higher polygon counts. While that is in many ways an unfair statement (after all, how else are you supposed to improve on a representation of real world vehicles?) the fact remains that nothing really jumps out at you when you are playing. There is no particularly beautiful scenery, no particular movement outside of the tracks themselves (There is some, for example on one track the same truck and semi drive by every time on the bordering highway), nothing really inspired.

Ultimately, however, a larger truth is evident - when you are caught in the throes of racing, how much of this will really matter? After all, if the game is enthralling, then that means you will feel as if you are driving at 120 mph, and you certainly won't be staring at the countryside.

And I must say, I think this is the first game that has ever made me feel like I really am driving a Mustang in a hundred mile an hour curve, tires burning on the pavement as they spin for traction.

Oh, the interface from the games console roots can be confusing (although it does add the option of playing splitscreen with a friend), and at first, controlling a performance vehicle with your keyboard at high speeds has a tendency of sending you careening like a madman. But as soon as one gets a hang of how lightly you are supposed to tap the keys at such speeds, you start feeling very cool indeed.

The default view in the game is fullscreen, with nothing on it but your gauges and lap indicators. I certainly recommend leaving it at that, because it gives the feeling of absolutely flying over the racetrack. Perhaps what impressed me more than anything was how it seemed to simulate the tenseness of maneuvering corners and tangling with the opposition at the same time. There is no damage in the game, but each car does have weight and velocity, and you hit the wrong car in the wrong way, and your vehicle will, at best, lose speed, and at worst, go crashing off the road or into a deadly spin.

The result of this is that when you come barreling up behind the pack, you can't just push on through necessarily, but you have to dodge and weave, judge how and where to make a run for it, and in general jostle your way at tremendously high speeds. It's fun, and it's tense.

Add to this having to precisely judge how to take a corner, and the adrenalin begins to flow. Here's a tip: More than anything, those corners are the key to the game. Learning to powerslide is vital, and what served me best was remembering to start turning too early and then tap the handbrake key. Tap it lightly to begin with, and the more severe the turn the long you want to hold it down. In a really long turn, you might have to quickly turn into the slide, and the first time you succeed in such a maneuver flawlessly its hard not to feel like something special.

I was originally disappointed in that many of the cars seemed to perform in much the same way, but discovered three key things to change this: Turn off anti lock braking, traction control, and, if you want the different horsepower to really matter, the difficulty up to medium. It's a quantum leap in having to learn to deal with spinning out, acceleration, and competing with vehicles faster than what you may be driving.

The bottom line is, while it may take a little practice to play the game, it's not that hard to learn and once you do it immerses you. The sounds really shine, with each car sounding distinct and vibrant, the track humming bumping underneath your tires, the rubber squealing and screeching in all the right places. Combined with the sounds of your opponents right by you, they only heighten the experience. There is music as well, and it's not too bad - there are choices beyond just the usual hard rock - but turning them off during a race brought the excellent sound effects to the forefront.

Bottom Line
This game is not aimed at someone looking for a supremely realistic race experience, nor is it aimed at someone looking for a quick fun arcade game. Rather, the intended audience seems to be the person who has always wanted to feel what it would be like to drive these vehicles at high speed and employ some of the tricks used in real life. If you've never liked racing games, then this won't provide anything to change your mind. But if the previous description sounds like you, then this title may be for you. And if you own a steering wheel, what are you waiting for?


Excellent sound effects
Faithfully realized Ford vehicles
A large amount of different race types
Immersive experience

Unimaginative tracks
Confusing interface
Doesn't bring anything particularly new to the genre
Very touchy controls need to be mastered

Ford Racing 2
Publisher: Feral Interactive
Download Ford Racing 2 Demo
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