capsule review

Ford Racing 2

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My Chevy-driving friends always joked that Ford stood for “Found on Road Dead”—and in the case of my first car, a 1979 Mustang, the description proved apt. Fortunately, there are better vehicles in Ford’s stable—enough of them, in fact, to merit a series of racing games. The second in the series, Ford Racing 2, comes to the Mac courtesy of Feral Interactive.

Ford Racing 2 lets you get behind the wheel of more than 30 vintage, modern, and futuristic Ford vehicles. The lineup includes everything from a 1949 Coupe to brand-new cars such as a race-tuned Focus hatchback. You can even go offroading with new F-150s, Explorers, the GT concept car, or a Taurus stock car.

The game pits you against computer-controlled opponents in a series of racing challenges that test your skill and speed. In addition to a standard racing mode, you can compete in Elimination mode, in which the last two cars in every lap are disqualified; Drafting mode, where you catch and eliminate your opponents by driving in their slipstreams; Driving Skills mode, which puts you through an obstacle course; and more. Do well, and you’ll unlock new cars.

To keep things interesting, the game also lets you choose from six themed environments—each with its own series of tracks to master. Choose from urban locales, the countryside, exotic locations, classic oval tracks, grand prix-style twists and turns, and more.

As an arcade-style racing game, Ford Racing 2 measures up pretty well. But if you’re looking for a realistic driving experience—like what you’ll find in Gran Turismo 4—you’ll probably be disappointed. Ford Racing 2 lacks a realistic physics engine, which means that you won’t get a feel for how these cars handle in the real world. And like a lot of auto-racing games that use licensed car models, there’s no damage modeling—so don’t expect to see your Crown Victoria with dented fenders, even if you careen into a guardrail with the pedal to the metal. That said, the game is a lot of fun.

As with most racing games, you’ll have a better playing experience if you have a steering wheel attached to your Mac. This offers a much more natural way to control these vehicles than a keyboard and a mouse. I found Ford Racing 2’s keyboard and mouse controls to be overly sensitive—I spent a lot of time overcorrecting as my cars slid all over the road. If you’re really fond of racers, a steering wheel is worth the investment. (Logitech and other companies sell Mac-compatible steering wheels.)

The game is quite pretty—not as jaw dropping as the latest round of auto-racing games for consoles, but still convincing with translucent windows, reflective paint, realistic shadows, great glow effects, and more. The game’s use of audio is also effective—there are varied engine and tire sounds, as well as lots of ambient sound effects.

The Bottom Line If you’re looking for an arcade-style auto racer, Ford Racing 2 offers enough challenge and variety to keep you driving for a while.

Take to the open road in Ford Racing 2.
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