Graphics have taken a real hit, perhaps because the dev team had to devote RAM to provide lag-free XBox Live play, something WR didn’t offer. Whereas WR had outstanding graphics, indeed among the best yet seen on the XBox, WR2 is filled with popups, draw-in, jaggies, and lo-res rendering of track scenery and layout. The latter, combined with the addition of traffic on the roadways, causes real problems in trying to race; get used to smashups when that dark wad of pixels being rendered on the road ahead of you turns out to abruptly materialize into an oncoming bus….
[note to Shane Kim: don't force a dev team to support XBox Live if they don't want to ! Especially when only 10% of XBox owners subscribe to Live in the first place ! ]
The menu remains confusing and unnecessarily difficult to maneuver. Also annoying are the trite aphorisms littering the manual and the game screen…after grinding through the 10th attempt at a truly lame 'drift' event ineptly copied from Need for Speed Underground, chipper messages to "keep trying and soon you'll be driving with the best of them !" are NOT FUN.
A few plusses: 'joyride' provides huge maps (Miami, Hawaii, Italy, and Egypt) with plenty of driving space to cruise around, including the ability to go offroad. The ability to include your own soundtrack is again a feature.
WR2 also offers much more than just Benzes to drive and customize.
Overall, though, I urge to 'rent before you buy'. Hopefully Synetic will abandon their attempts to be all things to all gamers, and return WR3 to the idiosyncratic, but appealing, design of the first game in the series.