|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Turn 10 Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 27, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2 (8 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Forza Motorsport is an amazing franchise. In four short years, this series has produced three high-quality games that have pushed the limit of traditional console racing and quickly gained fame as the series to lay threat to the genre juggernaut: Gran Turismo. The ongoing feud between these franchises may still be going strong, but Forza 3 has proven itself to be a worthy competitor. With plenty of cars, tracks, and new scalable controls that make simulation-style racing available to everyone, Forza 3 is the best in the series yet, and there are plenty of reasons for any racing fan to get into this title, regardless of console or series preferences.
The career mode in Forza this time around features a calendar-based tournament that allows you to pick tournaments and driving challenges based on the contents of your garage and your individual strengths as a driver. As you progress through the different events, you will gain money for your efforts as well as XP for your driver and your car. Earning XP will allow you to gain notoriety as a driver, and increasing the level of your car will earn you favor with manufacturers. Of course, the overall goal is to beat the ultimate class tournament at the end of the career mode, but as is the case in many racing titles, the thrill here comes from playing and replaying events to gain extra XP and the funds necessary to purchase and trick out your favorite vehicles.
One of the biggest features that have always been touted by the Forza series is its stellar garage. The game features a nice mix of American and foreign cars, and it has a heavy emphasis on the Ferrari and Chevrolet brands. While there are not too many "special edition cars," classic brands like Alfa Romeo, Citroën, and Porsche (which has been notably absent from the GT series) are all represented with commercial, racing, and classic models.
Although there are plenty of cars, I have to say that the presentation isn't 100% there. The visual differences between Forza 2 and Forza 3 are very minute, and car models look almost identical in the most recent version. While the argument can be made that not much can be done in the two years since the release of Forza 2, there is still room for extra detail in the car models.
However, even though the car models are not the most detailed, one aspect of the visuals that has been overhauled is the crash physics. Although the goal of any racing sim should be to control your car precisely and cross the finish line in first place, we have all felt the sting of a turn gone wrong or a drift spun out of control. The crashes in Forza 3 feature multiple points of articulation, and every part of your car, from the front bumper to the rear spoiler can be crashed, crumpled, and turned in to scrap metal if hit hard enough against the right structure.
Even though Forza 3 does not relish in the crashes the same way that GRID or Burnout Paradise do, it definitely allows you to feel the effects of crashes. Hit a concrete barrier head on, and you will find your alignment and braking will not work as well as they did previously. Skid across a street too roughly and your traction will decline. Although there is a pit that will repair some damaged elements of your vehicle when you are approaching a lap marker, the effects of driving imprecisely are far-reaching, and intense damage will not be repaired by pit stops.
The crashes are certainly intense and do shape much of the gameplay, but one of the biggest changes that Forza has made for its third iteration is gameplay customization. While previous Forza titles have been all about the hardcore simulation mechanics, Forza 3 introduces very flexible control, vehicle, A.I., and damage options to allow you to customize your Forza experience. Turning up all of these settings will give you a very strict racing experience that includes nuanced control, heavy damage, and merciless A.I. However, if you want a more casual experience, you can limit your damage to visual only, turn down the control sensitivity, and relax the A.I. a little bit. Although the game is still very tough, even on the lowest settings, it still feels very approachable as a racing simulator, which is no small feat.