The original Ford Racing was released in 2001 towards the end of the Playstation life cycle, after the release of the almighty Gran Turismo, along with Need For Speed and Ridge Racer. The title must have sold well enough to warrant a sequel, hence the release of Ford Racing 2 on Xbox and PS2. There have been many quality racing games released in the past few years - can Ford Racing 2 separate itself from the pack?
If you don't like Ford, don't bother
As the title suggests, Ford Racing 2 features only Ford cars. Ford Racing 2 features 34 cars and 6 track categories with 16 tracks total. This is a small variety when we have come to expect a lot more from driving games and can add repetition to the game quickly.
The main option of Ford Racing 2 is Ford Challenge. This mode features a challenge for each car and by winning the challenge you unlock both the car and the challenge in Ford Collection mode. Ford Challenge has a vast variety of challenges ranging from duals, eliminations, time attacks and single races. Some of the more original challenges include following a racing line, going through cones collecting timers and drafting behind an opponent long enough to eliminate them. The main problem with this mode is that it can be completed in as little as three hours.
Ford Collection is where single player races are chosen from, all options unlocked in Ford challenge are placed here, The frustrating thing is that unless most cars and tracks are unlocked there aren't many races to choose from. If you want to go into a race from the very beginning of the game you are out of luck as you have to unlock everything. There is also a quick race option which chooses a car and track and puts you straight into the action.
The game plays and feels very arcadey. The cars slip around a lot and will take a bit of getting used to. There are two handling options, standard and advanced. Advanced just makes the car seem heavier and a little harder to control. The handling is off-putting and will have some gamers disliking the game from the very beginning.
There is no damage, cars simply bump off the wall and keep going. This is a bit of a disappointment, but it is hardly out of the ordinary for racing games. The in game map is sub-par, only giving showing you a limited amount of the track in advance. The load times are surprisingly good and menu navigation is easy and fluent. After making any changes to the options, the game will save which is frustrating and makes the transition through each menu slower.
The only thing that could redeem this game would be your own competitiveness. If you have Xbox Live you can go online and post your score and compare your times to others around the world. You can not watch ghost replays of these times, which is a shame. However, we do commend the Xbox Live support for a smaller title. The ability to race against gamers on Xbox Live would have been appreciated and a welcome addition.
So are we racing or not?
The trackside of Ford Racing 2 is often extremely bland, thanks to the nature of the racing environment. This isn't always the case though, as there are a few detailed areas in the game. However, it is uninspiring and at times it feels like instead of being in a six car race you are going for a Sunday drive.
This game does not look like an Xbox game, but rather a first generation Playstation 2 game. The only impressive visual aspect are the cars which come off looking very nice in comparison to the rest of the game. Avoid pressing ?Y? though as the headlights look awful. (They stay on even during the day)
The sound is typical of an arcade racing game, containing mainly rock music and funk music. The Xbox version does support custom soundtracks. which is a surprising yet welcome addition. If you don?t have any music on your hard-drive we recommend you get a good cd ripped before playing this game. Music has to be changed in a menu during the game and is simply titled "Funk", "Rock" or "House" music.
Ford Racing 2 is a budget title, this is not normally a good sign and is especially true in this case. Ford lovers will find more Australian content in V8 Supercar Race Driver, as this game doesn't really have any exclusively local cars to the area. There are much better games available at the same price point from Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, to Project Gotham Racing.
If you simply must play this game then rent it, it will not take very long to complete. There are some redeeming features of the game like Custom soundtracks and Xbox Live support which were both unexpected. The PlayStation 2 version is without both of these additions.