NINTENDO DS REVIEW: FORD RACING 3
Ford Racing 3
Budget priced
Lots of unlockables
Smooth
20 + hours
Shallow
No Customizing

The budget price will definitely assist in overlooking some of FR3's uglier aspects. by Cole Smith

November 30, 2005 - There sure are a lot of stinky handheld racers available for the handheld systems. Is Ford Racing 3 another one? You might just be surprised.

When you see a racing game with Visual Impact's name on it you might be a little suspicious considering the DS disaster that was Burnout Legends. But make no mistake, Visual Impact has learned a few things and has produced the game that Burnout should be with Ford Racing 3. It's a budget title racer that works as you would imagine it should. It may lack some of the polish and depth of a top shelf production but at the very least this is a decent and very playable game.

From the Model T to the Mustang GT, Ford has paved the way for automobile enthusiasts for more than a century. His first car was the Model A which was manufactured in 1903. The Model T came five years later and was the first car to be mass-manufactured on an assembly line. In Ford Racing 3 we get to race the 1928 Model T at speeds up to a terrifying 45 mph. But that's only just the beginning.

Most of the fun stuff is locked in the main mode. It will give you an incentive to play but it can get a little boring replaying the same old tracks with the same vehicles. If you didn't know that some of the best was yet to come you might give up if you're not much of a racer.

Not a lot of skill is required to race these vehicles. You just basically accelerate, steer and brake. There are no customizable upgrades. What you get it what you get. There are plenty of vehicles that include sports cars, muscle cars, antique cars and of course the Ford line of trucks. All of the vehicles are evenly matched for each race and you are restricted to vehicles of the same class. You can't race a Thunderbird against a concept car.

If you're a racing sim fan you're in for a bit of let down. The cars respond well but regardless of what car you're racing and what the track conditions are like you will never find an example of perfectly tight controls. There is even a physics issue that doesn't seem to take the vehicles' weight into consideration. You would expect the GT to handle turns more aggressively than a truck but virtually all of the cars feel similar. It's too bad you can't A/B test them.

Since the vehicles are licensed they look great, even for a budget title. And since they're licensed they will stay that way. They don't take on any damage but you will be slowed down considerably if you hit something or lose control.

The AI is always on your ass. They are always behind the leader and while they are easy to pass they seldom seem to make a mistake and continue to maintain their positions.

I'm seeing a lot of games that don't take advantage of the dual screen and touch sensitive controls. Ford Racing 3 simply relegates the action to the top screen and a map to the bottom. The map is useful for seeing who is gaining on you but it's useless to use to see where you going since you can do that well enough with the top screen. I do like the fact that the HUD is on the top screen even though some of it can obscure your view. It's better than having to take your eye off the top screen especially if you're in the lead and being followed.

Amazingly enough the framerate is solid at 60 fps. The vehicles appear to move much smoother than the sloppy control system would suggest. The 3D graphics manage to convey a very fast sense of speed but there could have been more variety to the tracks. Most of them are flat and uninspiring although there are occasional hills, hairpin turns and water hazards.

The vehicles don't have that deep, rich, reflective luster of their console counterparts but they don't look bad. The motors hum and tires squeal and the music repeats endlessly.

Unlocking all of the tracks, cars and other goodies will add some replay value but you will definitely want to put a few weeks between yourself and the game before you go at it again just so that everything doesn't seem so familiar. For less than ten bucks you're getting good value for your money. There are a lot more expensive games out there that don't play this well.

Features

  • Beautifully detailed Ford automobiles: Ford GTs, Thunderbirds, concepts, SVT vehicles, Mustangs and trucks.
  • Highly detailed tracks with interactive scenery: road, off-road, oval tracks and more!
  • Unlock a huge range of game modes, tracks and vehicles as you face each challenge.
  • Cartridge Save, Multi-cartridge Multiplay

By Cole Smith
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Ford Racing 3 (DS)
3.2
Graphics
The animation is smooth and I can even forgive the relatively lame graphics for the great 3D perspective they provide.
3.9
Control
This is an arcade game. The control is forgiving almost to a fault but you have to learn to compensate for the unresponsive control system.
2.4
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music and sound effects could use some variety. In fact this whole game could use more variety.
3.0
Play Value
There are lots of options, cars and modes to unlock but I wish there were more interesting tracks to race on.
3.0
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: DS
Dev: Visual Impact
Pub: Destination Software
Release: Dec 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole Smith

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best