STAFF REVIEW of Forza Motorsport 3 (Xbox 360)

Saturday, November 14, 2009.
by Adam Dileva

Forza Motorsport 3 Box art Developer Turn 10 brings us another installment of its popular racing franchise again this year with Forza Motorsport 3. While building on the foundation of a superb racing arcade and simulation all in one, much work has been done to make the new Forza much more accessible for even non-racing fans or others that have been intimidated by the controls previously.

A lot of work has gone into Forza including new features that allow for absolute minimal frustration, every cars? interior perfectly detailed to real life and so much content that it actually had to ship on two discs.

While you are able to play the game off the first disc alone, the second contains around 100 more extra cars and more track locations. You are not forced to install the second disc but you will definitely be missing out on a lot of content without it, so I suggest clearing around 2 gigs of space on your hard drive to get the most out of Forza 3.

Mentioned earlier is the inclusion of in-cockpit views of every car to perfect detail. Every interior and dashboard of every car has been mapped exactly and looks just as it does in real life, so if you?ve been in or own a certain car, you will recognize the interior instantly. Driving in this view does have a larger learning curve but it certainly does feel much more fluid and realistic as a racing simulation should.

Forza 3 boasts some impressive numbers such as over 400 cars (with more DLC in the future) alongside more than 100 real world tracks and courses from all over the world. More than 50 manufacturers are licensed and cars have more than 10 times the polygons than in Forza 2 meaning everything looks even better this time and cars look amazing. Some favourites from previous Forza games also return such as Sebring International Raceway, Nurburgring and more. Coupled along with many events such as Time Trials, Oval, Drag, Circuit and more; there is more than enough content to keep you consistently int with racing games you start with a junk car and have to work your way up and suffer with it until you have enough cash to buy something slightly better and slowly build your career on this slow curved path. Luckily Forza 3 does something completely different and throws this style of boring progression out the window and does something complete different.

Career mode completely conforms around your cars and styles of game you like to race. Continue you stay in a car and it?ll give you events to use with that car rather than forcing you to buy cars that you won?t use more than once or don?t like. As you switch cars and unlock more, new events will unlock specifically for those vehicles. What?s great about this system is that you aren?t forced to do races with cars or events you don?t like (other than the seldom forced race here and there) as long as your car meets the prerequisites to race in said events.

Events will show up on your racing calendar and you commit to race in whatever events you agree to race. Over time you?ll eventually have more than 200 events to compete in so there is always something new to work towards as you gain and acquire more vehicles to learn.

For some events you may have the proper style of car but maybe you don?t have it up to the required specifications to compete such as going up a skill level or performance level. This is where a new feature comes in handy called the Quick Upgrade. Just before an event you can choose to have your car upgraded to its peak condition or new parts so that you are able to enter the next event or just want a slight advantage over the competition. With only a few button presses you can have your clunker decked out in new parts and tuned amazingly for the next race.

Turn 10 has gone through a great deal to make Forza accessible for anyone while keeping it fun for the advanced player all the way to new gamers. There are many different assists that you can willfully turn on and off depending on your skill. Depending on the difficulty you play on and what assists you choose to have on or off will directly result in the amount of your payout after a race. The less assists you have on gains you bonuses where more won?t net you as much, but at least makes it still fun for those not as skillful.

For those that aren?t as adept in racing sims there are some great assists for those people that just want to have fun even if they aren?t that great at the game. You can turn on the Auto Braking assist and all the player needs to do is hold down the trigger for gas and follow the racing line as it brakes automatically for them. It may not seems enjoyable for some but my wife who never plays racing games was happy that she was actually able to race while staying on the track.

Another new feature added to Forza 3 is the new Rewind ability. Granted that there have been rewind functions in games before such as Dirt 2 and more, but what makes it different in Forza 3 is that you aren?t penalized for using it. This feature is absolutely perfect for those times where you think you can make that corner just a little faster than you should; only resulting to slam into the wall or get off the course.

What?s great about this feature is that we?ve all been in that situation before where you are winning the race on the last lap and you blow it on a corner and close the whole thing only to be extremely frustrated at having to redo the whole course over again. This eliminates that frustration as you can rewind back just before you started to go awry, or even try something different like drifting the corner instead.

While everything about the Rewind feature seems great, there is always another side and the only downfall to this feature is that it can become quite a crutch since there is no real penalty to using it. You will use it many times and might even forget that it?s only usable in single player and not online obviously; so make sure to remember that and learn from your mistakes playing career mode and try not to use it as a crutch.

As you complete races and events in your career, you are rewarded with money and experience. Experience comes in the form of driver (the overall) and that specific car. So just like many other games, you can level up your character (driver) and your car. This system encourages players to find cars that they like and stick with them more and longer to level them up and gain new tuning parts as they progress and upgrade their vehicles.

Stay with a specific car long enough and you can eventually swap out parts and even engines to make the smallest ?normal looking? car into quite a beast and competitor. It?s quite gratifying to see the car you started out with that could barely break 100 k/m eventually compete with some of the heavy hitters and street racers.

In many racing titles they advertize crash physics but Forza 3 takes it to a new level and actually incorporates complete roll over crash damage; meaning you are finally able to flip your car should you crash hard enough. Doing a complete flip doesn?t seem to happen too often, but at least the feature is there. On the flip side, your car will get scratches and scuffs as you rub against competitors and walls, but there doesn?t seem to be too much massive damage contorting to your vehicle visually. With damage set to the realistic setting, you better to know hot shift properly, as even something as simple as not properly shifting could potentially blow your engine in the middle of a race.

The Forza series has always had a strong online element and it?s even more robust with this new installment. There are your obviously standard racing modes like circuit and course racing, drifting and drag but even more options have been included such as ?Cat and Mouse?, Elimination (last person each lap is knocked out) and Tag.

Once you choose your match type, there are a huge slew of options to completely customize how you would like to race online. From here you can choose whether or not people can use Auto Brake and other assists or even force players to use manual transmission should you like. You could even make a team game and have muscle cars vs import should you wish; the possibilities are almost endless with how many customizable options are present and should keep people playing online for quite some time.

Arguably what Forza may be best known for is the extremely in-depth tuning and painting of your vehicles to have a unique and custom ride exactly how you want.

What makes Forza so great is that even if racing isn?t your forte, you can still get great enjoyment and longevity from the game thanks to its painting and tuning features. Every single car in Forza 3 can be completely tuned and perfectly aligned to your driver?s skills even turning a low end car into a supercar challenger.

Along with tuning, you can also completely customize how your ride looks and are able to paint anything you can imagine onto your car?s canvas. It?s as simple as painting with shapes and layers but there are some very impressive paintjobs out there and when you finish your masterpiece you can even use the auction house to sell your hard work.

Should you deal out the extra cash for the Forza 3 Limited Collectors Edition you will get quite a few goodies well worth the extra price if you are a Forza enthusiast. You get a special Forza keychain to attach to your real car keys, a 2GB thumb drive specially branded ofcourse, ten exclusive cars (5 specially for VIP members and the other 5 personally picked, tuned, and pained by Team 10), and a membership to be a VIP member. Having VIP membership will get you special recognition in the storefront and auction house and more. There have also been promises of VIP-only cars to be offered in the future as well.

An incredible amount of work has gone into making Forza 3 accessible and enjoyable by anyone regardless of skill or previous racing history. With the new rewind feature and a plethora of assists that can be toggled, anyone is able to make it as easy or challenging as needed and will be rewarded accordingly.

Forza 3 has amazing visuals that coincide with the authentic sounds from each car make and manufacturer. With the new in-dash view and a steering wheel, Forza 3 is the essential racing sim if you are a true enthusiast. Every car sounds different and you can tell simply by the sounds of the roaring Mustang engine or the super high-end exotic?s that an immense amount of work by passionate people at Turn 10 has been done to make Forza 3 a leader in the racing genre.

Forza Motorsport 3 may look like any other racing game out there, but being able to have players enjoy themselves even if they aren?t that skillful speaks loudly. You can be a full time tuner or painter and not even race a single event and still get a massive amount of gameplay out of Forza 3. The excellent online integration and customizable options alone will make the replability last much longer than other racing titles. Forza is back and will definitely keep me interested for quite some time and shouldn?t necessarily be passed up even if you aren?t the biggest racing fan.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.1 / 10
Sound: 9.2 / 10


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