Forza Motorsport 3 (Xbox 360) Review
Posted by Trace Aber on 11.14.2009
A new King has been crowned...
Title: Forza Motorsport 3 Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios Developer: Turn 10 Studios Genre: Racing Sim Players: 1-2 (2-8 online) Rated: E for Everyone
In 2005 Turn 10 released Forza Motorsport on the original Xbox and featured over 200 cars and a lot of customization for each car. Both a commercial and critical success, it appeared as though a new king of racing simulation was about to be crown. A follow up, Forza Motorsport 2, was released in 2007 on the Xbox 360 and while featuring over 300 cars and even more customization, the game lacked any real innovation over its predecessor and an increased learning curve that turned many fans off. Turn 10 is back with their third effort in the series, Forza Motorsport 3, but does it live up to and exceed the standard set by the previous two games? In one word Ė yes.
As mentioned above, one of the biggest problems facing many racing fans was the difficulty curve held in the previous games, especially Forza 2. Turn 10 has apparently listened to the response because they made this game completely accessible to everyone. Even the most novice of players will be able to get into the game quickly thanks to the assists you can turn on or off, depending on your skill level. Things such as traction control and auto-brake will help players get the feel of the game mechanics. Thereís even an assist that shows the best path to take on the course, which helped me out a lot as Iím not exactly great at turns in racing simulators. Also there to help both inexperienced and experiences players is the rewind function, which allows players to rewind a race right after making a critical mistake. While some may argue against a feature like this, it is not mandatory to use and for those who wish to itís a great way to get a hang of the game and the course youíre on.
There is a benefit to mastering the mechanics in the game without assists though Ė each win in career mode will garner you more funds. Being a simulation and all, Turn 10 has made it so the more realistic you play the game the more funds youíll win. Though you may be content with the money you earn with the assists on, getting a ten percent bonus for not having auto-brake on certainly helps. Players can also adjust the type of damage done to the car, which will also bump up the overall money earned per race. Money is a very important factor in career mode and if you play enough, it will determine how you drive. While crashing into every vehicle may seem fun at first, itís simply not an economically smart idea since youíll need to repair your vehicle before each race. Small subtleties like that are seen everywhere throughout Forza 3 and helps to immerse the player in the game.
The career mode of Froza 3 is pretty daunting at first. Starting out with just a few funds, youíll be racing cars such as the Scion for your first few laps. The career mode is separated into seasons that see you compete in a series of races for the championship. If youíre not in the mood for championship racing and would rather get into the groove of things, you can also sign up for lesser events that are very much car-specific. These events can range from three to six races on average and the availability of them are based on a number of factors including the cars you own and your preferred race type. Races include circuit, oval, drag and drift tracks, just in case there wasnít enough variety for you. The main career mode will last you a total of six seasons, though thereís no reason why you canít keep playing after that. To show the depth of the game, there are over two hundred events in career mode, though a normal-length career will only have you racing in 55 events. This means no two careers will ever be the same and will feature new events even on your third playthrough.
Turn 10ís Drivatar artificial intelligence system is back which essentially ďteachesĒ the AI to race against you. Whatís new this time around is the AI pressure system, which helps the game imitate real-life players eerily well at times. If you get too close to a computer-controlled car you may notice that it ďslips upĒ every now and then or even make a bad turn down the final stretch. While some may think the AI is buggy, itís actually the pressure system at work. That is not to say, however, that the AI is perfect. As with a lot of games this generation, the difficulty levels just wonít cut it. Races will either be too easy to win or too difficult to win, with the occasional nail-biter here and there. This can make the career mode either disappointingly easy or frustratingly hard, neither one of which I prefer.
Of course, what is a racing simulator without its cars (probably a really terrible game, but I digress)? When I first heard that the game would feature over 400 cars, my first thought was the fear of having to unlock the prior 399 to get that one perfect car. My fears were for naught, however, as Turn 10 has graciously left each car unlocked from the beginning! Instead of having to plod through races with cars you hate. Pretty much every major car company you can think of is represented, ranging from low end economy cars to the most exotic cars that Iíve never even heard of. Whatís more amazing is that, with the assists turned off, you can feel the difference in every car you race. Turn 10 has done an amazing job with details here, and even without an expensive steering wheel peripheral you can get the complete experience here.
Customization to each car also has a ridiculous amount of detail attached to it. For those concerned about the superficial, a relatively unchanged editing tool from Forza 2 allows players to create almost anything. Thankfully, you can create these images on a flat surface and not a hood of a car. For those of you more into the fine tuning of your car, youíll be happy to know Forza 3 has you covered. In every way, shape and form imaginable. Players will be able to tune almost every aspect of the car down to the smallest detail, and those inexperienced in it will often do more harm than good. I know I did. Luckily, for those of us that arenít hardcore into racing games, thereís an auto-tune button that will make those changes for us.
The last thing to talk about under gameplay is the online aspect of it. Everything still looks and plays as beautiful as it does offline and thereís very little, if any, lag. Outside of your typical races, players will also be able to compete in drag, drift, elimination, and three tag variants. My favorite mode is the team-based cat and mouse mode. Basically, there are slower cars that must finish the race while faster cars are trying to stop them or protect their racer. Itís pretty weird at first, especially in a sim like Forza 3, but once you get the hang of it itís a blast. If you end up hosting a session youíll find a multitude of options at your disposal, down to the camera angle everyone must play as.
The auction house is back, though this time itís a bit different. While you can still buy and sell cars like you did in Forza 2, this time around youíll also be able to buy and sell paint jobs, tuning set-ups, and even vinyl designs. Creators of the content can also set restrictions on their items or let buyers have a bit more freedom with it Ė itís all up to you. Keywords are also introduced, allowing shoppers to find exactly what they need, when they need it. Itís a unique system that works surprisingly well.
Itís hard not to look at this game and be impressed by the visuals. Every track looks magnificent and highly-detailed, which really puts to use the camera mode in the game. In addition to the environment, damage done to the car and tires look exceptional. Dents, bent fenders, decals flipping paint scraping Ė itís all there. Especially when your car flips in the air! While racing I did notice a few times when graphics wouldnít fully load or the lighting would be off, but itís nothing game-breaking and if youíre going 200MPH itís not really that big of a deal anyways.
The most impressive graphical achievement doesnít come from the beautiful race tracks. No, it comes from the ridiculous fact that each car has its own unique interior. So, in addition to handling and driving like the real thing, every one of the four-hundred plus cars look just like their real-life counterparts, inside and out.
Presentation is, as expected, top notch and when first loading up the game you get the feeling that this is a serious simulator. Itís kind of a lost art form, but Turn 10 knows presentation. They want Forza 3 to be the absolute best racing simulator out there, and the overall look and feel of everything provides a convincing argument.
The music selection in Forza 3 is passable but not up to par with the overall presentation of the game. Considering how much work was clearly put into every aspect, itís odd to think they seemingly ignored the music section. Thankfully, each car has its own unique sound to it which, like the interiors, seems ridiculous and awesome all at the same time. Turning up the engine sound over the music will provide for an overall better experience.
As mentioned earlier, this is a ridiculous amount to this game that most people will never see. The average game could probably purchase this as their last racing game ever, with over 200 events, 400 cars, and customization out of wahzoo, thereís so much to do here. Factor in designing cars, finishing career modes and multiplayer Ė you might not ever need another game period.
if you enjoy racing games, youíll find something to love about Forza 3. Be it the visuals, the customization, the in-depth career mode or just the racing Ė thereís something for everyone. Those worried about a steep learning curve should use the assist tools as a tutorial, taking them off as they understand gameplay better. Be it local or online, multiplayer is done extremely well and with so much to do Ė thereís no way not to have fun.
Turn 10 may have dethroned Gran Turismo as the sim racing King. This game is breathtaking in every sense of the word and youíll be hard pressed to find a more complete game in any genre. A must have for any racing fan.
Some of the best looking graphics to date with only a few minor glitches here and there.
Every vehicle handles differently and controls are excellent. Only a few AI issues.
Despite the lacking soundtrack, the environmental sounds and unique engine noises are great.
Short of simply getting tired of racing, there's enough here to last a lifetime.
If you enjoy racing games at all, you NEED this game.