FORZA MOTORSPORT 3 Xbox 360 Review

     October 23, 2009

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It is the slogan for one of the most anticipated racing games to come out in a long time. The Forza series is the premiere racing game for the Xbox 360 and is constantly in the discussion for best racing game available, period. Two years since their last installment, the folks at Turn 10 and Microsoft have kicked this franchise into another gear now (pun admittedly intended) with Forza Motorsport 3.

Forza_Motorsport_3_Xbox_360_image (4).jpgWith now well over 400 cars featured in the game from over 50 different manufactures, you would think “options” is what Forza means (it really stands for “power” in Italian and that makes more sense, I think). Each and every car is also completely customizable from interior designs and colors to rims to the air pressure in your tires.

You think it’s great to drive a lot of cars? Well, how about driving them on 100 different race tracks from all over the world from Sebring to Nürburgring and even the Circuit de la Sarthe, which is used for the world-famous Le Mans 24 hour race. Yeah…options.

So far, I’ve thrown out a lot of numbers. Impressive numbers, but still, just numbers. Let’s talk about looks. The cars are built with 10 times the amount of polygons from the last installation of Forza and that has allowed for more finely detailed visible damage to your car from scratched paint all the way to tire wear over the course of a race. You can almost see the flies splatter across your windshield this game looks so good.

Speaking of damage, how about the fact that a brand new physics engine now might make you think twice about trying to smack an opponent out of your way as you might just flip your own car over and take yourself out of the race (I know, I’ve done it. It is fun for like three seconds until you realize you’ve definitely lost the race now).

Of course, a severely improved A.I. could make contact all but impossible as your opponents react to your actions like real drivers now. Some cars might try to floor it to put some distance between you if you act aggressive while others might just let you pass in the hopes your righteous fury will just glide by them (I only know how to drive aggressive so I’ve only seen the A.I. act to my anger fueled actions). The A.I. might try to pull the same tricks on you, though, if you’re not careful, by bumping you in turns or veering back and forth to prevent you from cleanly passing.

Forza_Motorsport_3_Xbox_360_image (1).jpgAlong with the classic racing game modes like vs., time trials, and online vs., there is also the inclusion of a brand new single-player season mode that insures that no player will have the same racing experience as you play through six years in the life of a driver as you try to win races with a plethora of cars in various classes. From one-on-one heats, to drift events, to drag, to circuit races, each calendar has more than 200 events on it and will test every aspect of your skills as a driver.

This sounds like a gearhead’s dream for sure. But what if you are a more casual racing gamer? What if you don’t know how to tune your car or when to brake going into a turn? The fine folks at Turn 10 took that into consideration. There are a bevy of options that can be tuned to your liking depending on your ability and even an automatic “Quick Upgrade” feature that will tune your car to its maximum ability without you having to look through valves and fuses trying to figure out which ones will be the best for your car. You can ease up the opponent’s A.I., you can lessen the wear and tear on your car during a race, and you can even turn on the one-button auto-brake assists or you can paint a line on the track telling you where to turn and how fast you should be going. All of these are great for beginning racing gamers as you attempt to not only learn the tracks, but improve your skills over time.

Forza_Motorsport_3_Xbox_360_image (2).jpgThe ultimate assist though is probably the best. Similar to the “flashback” feature from Grid, Forza Motorsport 3 has no limits to the amount of times it’s “rewind” feature can be used in a single-player race as it allows you to stop play and go back in time instantaneously to re-do a poor turn or maybe getting spun out by an opponent’s car. The “rewind” feature is so extensive, that the opponent might even rethink how they go into a turn.

While playing, I specifically remember two cars colliding on a hairpin turn that caused a pileup that ended up taking me and several other cars out. I rewound the accident and, on the very next try, the cars avoided each other and the race continued. I didn’t have to worry about restarting the entire race or trying to comeback from a ridiculous deficit because of a mistake the computer made and that makes playing this game so much more enjoyable.

With all the compliments I am paying the game, mind you, there are flaws. Firstly, the soundtrack is beyond limited and you might just turn the music off after a while because by the second year of your single-player career, every song has been played to death.

Forza_Motorsport_3_Xbox_360_image.jpgAnother problem is that once you have a solid lead in a race, even on the hardest difficulty level, the A.I., although great in many other aspects, has trouble making a play back on your position if it falls too far behind. This means that a lot of races that might be five or six laps, could be over by the third or fourth a lot of times if you can make the right moves. Also, since in many series you’ll face the same cars, the cars do not make adjustments between races like you can and you’ll often be competing with the same two or three cars while the other four or five will simply fall out of contention. The A.I. is very good, but it still has its drawbacks.

These small complaints aside, this is still probably the best racing game out there because hands-down it is the most fun to play. It has successfully removed all the frustrations for those rookie racers out there while having enough options to keep the hardcore of the hardcore more than happy.

Rating: A-

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