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Harder Than It Looks
To the observer, Forza 2 doesn't look that tough. Good Forza 2 players rarely drift around corners, rear tires smoking in a blaze of glory, nor do good Forza 2 players make daring jumps at 150 miles per hour. In fact, a good Forza 2 player probably looks like they're playing the easiest game in the world - Until of course, you look at their face and see their cringing, tongue-waggling expression.
If you're having difficulty with Forza 2, don't give up. The game is much different than most racing games because it aims to provide as realistic a driving experience as possible from the comfort of your couch. When you lose you lose grip in Forza 2, it doesn't mean you're about to start a fantastic drift. It means you're about to take a nosedive into the nearest tire wall. You have to treat the cars more gently, you have to drive with precision, and you have to respect the laws of physics.
This short guide will provide you with the basics of being a good driver in Forza 2. It won't be enough to get you to the top of the multi-player ranks - only practice will get you there - but it is a good place to start.
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Basics: Overteer and Understeer
Forza 2 is about the turns, and as such, you'll need to learn how to deal with the forces that interact with your car when you head around a turn. These forces result in two common phenomena - oversteer and understeer.
Oversteer occurs when the car reacts to much your input. You are trying to point the car in the direction you want to go, but it keeps turning further than you desire. This is probably because you're in a rear-wheel drive car and you've lost grip. The drive wheels continue to spin while the rear steps out of line, causing the car's nose to tip inward, possibly into a spin. Oversteer - when severe - can be very difficult to check, because letting off the gas is not always enough to stop it, and because it can lead to a spin. In most cases, you should let almost entirely off the throttle and steer in the direction of the skid.
Understeer occurs when a does not react enough to your input. You are trying to point the car in a direction, but the car veers wide of where you want to go. This is probably because you're in a front or all-wheel drive car and the lateral forces on your car have exceeded the friction keeping you on the road, but this can also sometimes occur in rear wheel drive cars which are moving to0 quickly but have enough grip in the rear wheels to prevent oversteer. Unlike oversteer, understeer is very easy to correct. You simply need to take your foot of the gas. The grip will return, and you'll be able to steer again. Most cars which are considered easy to drive exhibit minor, predictable understeer.
Ideally, you'll want neither of these traits to be common on the car you're driving, but it is important to understand what they are, because this will help you correct for them. If you have to choose, I'd recommend a car that tends to understeer - at least for a beginner. Understeer is predictable and almost never leads to a spin, but oversteer can result in some unintended doughnuts.
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Smooth Is Fast
If you've played racing games before, than you've probably learned a few basic rules of the genre. In general, handbrakes are considered to be a fine way to start drifts, going airborne is more cool than dangerous, and grip can be easily regained by letting off the gas. This encourages a tire-smoking style of blazing around a track, but that style that works in so many other racing games will get you nowhere in Forza 2.
Your most important resource in Forza 2 is friction. Friction makes your car go, stop, and turn - basically, friction is grip. And if you exceed the power of the friction keeping you on the road, you'll end up sliding or spinning your tires. That is bad. Any time your begin to lose grip, you're losing control of the friction that makes your car go. A car with tires that are smoking and squealing is a slow car, because those tires are not using any friction to move forward.
That means driving quickly in Forza 2 requires you to drive smoothly, even when driving big V8 muscle-cars that are typically associated with slaughtering tires. If you begin to feel oversteer or understeer take hold of the car, you need to reduce the throttle. The counter-point to this of course, is that you don't want to become so obsessed with smooth driving that you spend the entire race at 10 mile per hour. To get the quickest lap times in Forza 2, you need to learn the limits of the car you are driving, and then push yourself and the machine to that limit. But not over it, because that will lead to a skid and a lower lap time.
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Don't Stand On The Brakes (Or The Gas)
Braking is another part of Forza 2 that tends to act much differently than in most racing games. In Forza 2, braking uses the resource I just mentioned above - friction. If you are braking hard, then all of the friction keeping your car on the road is going to be invested in stopping the vehicle. This means that if you try to brake hard into a corner and then turn while still keeping on the brakes, you're going to find yourself going straight forward.
This results in a behavior that may seem counter-intuitive - sometimes, when you take a corner to quickly, it is best not to brake. This is because braking is going to dramatically reduce your ability to actually steer your car, which will result in your taking a trip off-track. Choosing not to brake may result in your car going wide, but staying on-track - or it may not. You'll ultimately have to experiment with your vehicle in order to determine when braking is a hopeless cause and when trying to take a turn to quickly is going to simply spin you out.
Acceleration also requires friction, so attempting to turn and accelerate at full-speed will result in loss of control over your car. How that loss of control manifests itself - be it understeer, oversteer, or a spin - depends on your vehicle.
Instead of standing on the brakes and/or the gas, you'll need to learn to moderate both your brakes and your throttle. Rather than attempting to navigate the entry of a turn with your brake pedal mashed, you'll need to slam it down before the turn, while you're still going in a straight line. Then once you reach the turn, let up and allow your leftover speed carry you around the bend. Once you've made your way into the exit of the turn, you'll need to gradually and smoothly increase your throttle until you've come to a point where you no longer need to turn. Then you can give it the beans.