Review

Forza Motorsport 3 Review (Xbox360)

Although not an annual competition, the Forza/Gran Turismo rivalry has become as fierce as anything FIFA and Pro Evo can throw up. Perhaps it’s because, unlike the two football games, there hasn’t been a clear winner as of yet. They’ve not even been fairly matched up against each other this gen, as considering GT Prologue alongside Forza 2 would be like pitting an electrician against Zeus in a fight to raise the most arm hairs. With Forza 3 launching the first thunderbolt towards the heart of it’s opponent, it looks like we’re in for more than a clash of two racing titans.

It may be clichéd to say, but at times, Forza 3 feels like so much more than a game. As Game Director Dan Greenawalt said in our interview (to be published soon), it’s an experience, and one that stands closer to social networking than any title before. Even now, over two weeks before release, there’s a handful of gamers breathing in a world that provides customisation like oxygen; but also ensures any alien inhabitant can easily adapt to the environment.


If a car speeds away just rewind and try again!
Expect to be speeding around real world tracks in no time.

This was a major step for Turn 10, as Forza 2’s often punishing difficulty led many astray. The developers recognised that gamers don’t want to be beaten up, but want to compete to the best of their abilities against opponents that challenge without mocking. Assists have now been tweaked slightly; giving players of all skill levels an equal chance to enjoy the utterly brilliant driving experience. While you can still have the racing or breaking line on, plus all the perks like traction control, Turn 10 announced that the addition of autobrake was an “achievement” they wanted to accomplish for some time. The intention of such a major assist is to allow the younger (or less capable) amongst us experience the game too. By prompting the computer to brake for us, Turn 10 have provided everyone with the chance to plunge the throttle to the floor without the care for braking at the correct time, as the only adjustment needed comes from steering. It’s simple, and probably won’t be accepted for online games, but as a bare minimum it means competition can be held between those of us who lack spacial awareness, and those of us who understand the intricate tyre statistics the game provides mid-race.

As you enter the career mode and begin your quest to become a Bugatti toting, Ferrari beating pro, it should be immediately clear that Forza 3 loves to cater to your needs. There are a hundred tracks to whiz round, many of which are planted within stunning scenery. Look out for the Amalfi, Fujimi and Montserrat tracks, as they provide a visual spectacle that’ll make more jaws hit the floor than seeing Force India take pole position at the Belgian Grand Prix. You’re guided through the sleek menu system step-by-step until the first event starts. Here you’ll get your primary taste of working through a set of races, before taking part in a fortnightly (and more important) championship race that defines your season. After each championship circuit is complete, you’ll proceed to choose another event until the next championship contest rolls around. Confused? It all makes sense once playing and will become second nature before long.

Interestingly, if you can afford a car in Forza 3, you can buy it. There’s nothing locked until you reach X time round the Nurburgring, and nothing that stops those who dedicate the time. The amount of cash you earn depends predominantly on your finishing position, which is rewarded more generously when less assists are on. If you struggle to keep the car steady with the stability control and anti-lock breaking system off, that’s fine. The biggest increase in winnings comes from when damage is turned to simulation- something that needs to be done if you want to relish the full emotion of Forza 3’s experience. With the GRID style rewind function installed to much simpler effect than it’s pioneer, there’s no reason you would want to opt out of feeling the full effects of ramming a Mini-Cooper of the road until it sits in a pile of it’s own dust, de-shelled and ready for scrapping.


The scenery is often stunning, and makes sure we’re not looking at the road for most of the time.
Every car features a fully authentic cockpit, a lovely little extra for petrolheads.

As Mr Greenawalt said, the rewind function was an innovative idea that the competition must now incorporate, or else fall behind. When mixed alongside some of the most intelligent, personality emitting AI ever seen, the effects are truly special. We’ve mistimed corners, flinging ourselves into opponents and across the sand like a washed up halibut searching for water, but that needn’t matter anymore. By rewinding, any conflict that we had with the AI can develop. If we smashed into them a few times, the next time they’ll evade, sensing that we are hunting their shiny spoiler. On the flipside, if you rewind after driving peacefully alongside another racer who begins to outrun you, they may decide that this second time they want to pummel you off the track with relentless force. It’s unashamedly entertaining, as rewriting the history of your race becomes just as key to success as it does to “OMG DID YOU SEE THAT” moments.

If there’s a gripe to be made on the career side of things, much of the time we struggled to find which difficulty suited us best. Winning comfortably with assists on and failing miserably with them all off highlights how this is still an extremely hardcore racer. In fact, the tuning aspect of the game is so in-depth that Turn 10 revealed many players would opt for automatic upgrades instead. If you put in the time to build a car for a specific track or race type, and you know what you’re doing, then prepare to reap the rewards. If you want an indication as to how deep the game’s physics and tuning system goes, Greenawalt told us that McLaren have taken some pointers from the Forza team for their driving system, and the engine has been used to train professional racers such as the wonderful face of the game, Natacha Gachnang.

Away from race day proceedings, the developers have been looking at popular websites such as eBay and Facebook to create their auction house. With customisation such a huge part of Forza 2, things here have got bigger and better. There are already many car designs to download or vinyl’s to purchase, coming in the form of entertaining Batman emblems or Sonic The Hedgehog heads. We’ve also been noted that a Halo 3 style Forge system will be put in place at some point, meaning you’ll be able to manipulate the physical side of racing beyond the four doors of your car. Community is vital for Turn 10, as they’ve also implemented a party system that allows groups of players to enter races together. These tweaks are key for the developers to reach their goal of providing inspiration for other games to follow down the social network route, and right now, their experience is more involving than anything else seen in the console world.


Cash takes dedication to generate, so be prepared to drive Fiat’s best offering for a while.
All the usual camera tools are in place for some classy snaps.

At the current time the online arena is mainly dead, with one or two journalists hanging around to find the odd game. From what we’ve played, it’s as smooth as the last title, and will become a haven of competition once the release date rolls around. If you fancy taking it up a gear, there are some fantastic Ferrari replica steering wheels available- not that they improved our technique at all. In fact, using the steering wheel made us realise just how bad our driving skills are in real life. They’re good fun however, and will become as vital to serious players as a Tournament Fightstick is to the Street Fighter hardcore.

It’s insanely hard to sum up Forza 3 Motorsport. It’s a title best experienced, as it nurtures around each player to ensure they’re getting the most out of their specific car interests. It has certainly laid down the marker for Gran Turismo 5 to surpass; a task that now looks incredibly daunting. At this stage in Forza’s lifespan, it doesn’t feel like we could ask for much more. A few further tweaks are needed to sort out the differences between difficulty settings, but for now, we can’t complain. All of Turn 10’s hard work and research has certainly paid off, as the team can now sit back and watch the 360 community flourish in the best racing ‘world’ we have ever seen.

Top Game Moment:
Being sucked into a world of gorgeous graphics, heroic wins and idiotic crashes. And then rewinding it all happens differently!

Videos

Comments

By busboy33 (I just got here) on Oct 12, 2009
busboy33
" We’ve also been noted that a Halo 3 style Forge system will be put in place at some point, meaning you’ll be able to manipulate the physical side of racing beyond the four doors of your car."

Y'know, someone might read that and think you just said something suspiciously like "Track Editor".

Something like that might cause lots of people to go manic with joy.

They might get so excited that they need confirmation of their wildest dreams, and would be willing to do anything to get it.

. . . like drive to your offices.

I think it would just be safer . . .uh, simpler . . . yeah, simpler . . . if you just confirmed that little bit. Thanks ever so much.

Seriously -- you can't drop something like that and not expect people to get hurt, do you? Seriously? Explanation, please. thx.

Hugs and kisses,
busboy33
By busboy33 (I just got here) on Oct 12, 2009
busboy33
" We’ve also been noted that a Halo 3 style Forge system will be put in place at some point, meaning you’ll be able to manipulate the physical side of racing beyond the four doors of your car."

Is that a fancy way of saying Track Editor?
By Jamez (SI Newbie) on Oct 23, 2009
Jamez
Gotta say Nick, damn well written!