Forza Motorsport 3

Forza 3 tries to capture every aspect of car culture. It includes drag racing, drifting, circuit racing, tuning and all things making your car pretty. For me though, Forza 3 is all about the tracks.

The last Forza already had a good car selection, customisation and physics that actually felt 'right'. The biggest step up with Forza 3 are the roads you actually get to attack. If happiness is pursuit of the perfect corner, then you are spoilt for choice here. No racing game since the original Need For Speed has offered really satisfying, realistic roads. Here you can cruise around the coasts of Italy in a classic Ferrari, touge Fujimi Kaido initial D styles, or take a lotus around the ever popular nurburgring. Larger tracks can be over 10K's of driving bliss, offering up off camber corners, tunnels, and some stunning scenery. These tracks can also be broken down into stages for rally nuts, making for some interesting hill-climbs. Circuit freaks worry not, Silverstone and other popular circuits return with the inclusion of Le Mans! I belive my flatmates first words were, "Oh my god, I'm driving somewhere interesting!".

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As you would expect, this iteration of the game is a lot nicer to look at than the last. Every part of the game is now more detailed, cars have individually modelled lug nuts and there is a lot more to look at when tearing around the tracks. You may be concentrating a little too much on the actual racing to notice straight away. Stepping back to watch a replay of your tweaked ride gliding around exotic tracks is a car fans dream. Forza 2 in comparison now looks a little bland. The new in-car view may not look as good as say Need For Speed Shift, but Forza's beauty is all in the details. Oh - and thank the stars that there is actually a rear view mirror this time around.

Although purists prefer engine noise over music, there is also now music as you race. Of course you can turn this off, but the tunes they have selected aren't bad. I still prefer to tune into internet radio for a longer race. Sound effects are also improved with effects such as tire noises on differing surfaces. Car engines sound meaty enough too, with modifications changing the cars sound noticeably.

One aspect of the game which seems to divide are the AI cars. There seems to be too many of them on real tight circuits, making overtaking a slow process. On later races with more laps, this is ok, as it is realistic - and challenging for sim fans. Fairly often though you will be tempted to overtake on the grass or just take someone out to get past them. Not too realistic and this certainly reminds you that you are playing a video game, but if you only have three laps to beat close rivals, its almost necessary. I have to say all my mates that have had a go seem to adapt this strategy immediately. On the other hand, you have tight, evenly matched racing which forces you to slow down a bit and choose your overtaking spots carefully.

As with any racing game its a lot harder to be aware of cars around you than in real life, and although opponents usually won't plough straight into you, over-breaking or tightening your apex can result in crippling pile-ups. If this is at the end of an endurance race, the result is often a controller through your screen. Not so with Forza 3, you just press rewind and try again. Personally I don't dislike the inclusion of this, but being a bit of a driving purist, I certainly try and avoid it. For me this feature destroys any immersion or rhythm in the game during a race. That said certain situations which would normally result on the game being ejected from the console become fixable. You can even use it to tackle your favourite corner again and again to perfect a line.

Personally, I have never been a huge fan of the way games like Gran Turismo and Forza have been laid out.To get anywhere in the game you have to have a million tuned cars, resulting in playing the same races again and again to scrape enough money to be competitive in the next event. Forza 3 uses a calender, this is hardly ground braking, but the calender actually changes according to the car you currently have selected. This means the game moves along a lot quicker and its a lot easier to stay competitive. You will still be forced to compete in a few class events, so do have a back-up car for these. Fact is though within an hour of playing I had a Del-Sol with an S2000 engine and a rear wheel drive Fiat Abarth which lasted me a good many races.

Upon booting the game up you will immediately see that the interface is much cleaner than ever before. Navigating the menus is a breeze, which is a good thing as there are a good many menus to navigate to get the most out of this game. The screen I care most about though is the upgrade menu. Unfortunately you still often have to go back a good many pages to manually upgrade your car between races, but the tuning is so well thought out, its worth a couple more button presses. Car nuts will almost live in the tuning menu's, a few new features includes the ability to rock different rim and tire combinations back and front. You can even do drive-train swaps at will. Those a little less technical can opt for a very clever 'optimise' feature which automatically equips the best upgrades for the current race. For me though, I love changing aspects of the car myself and knowing how each 'tweak' will affect the handling.

My only disappointment, and it is a big one for some of us - is that there is no system link. This means that if you have two or more people, XBOX's and TVs in the house you still need to go through the Internet. And here's the kicker; You all need an XBOX Live account. I have hosted a number of Forza 2-athons and as well as increasing the cost involved in playing, adds unnecessary latency - not desirable in close racing. Game companies need to remember that not everyone actually wants to take the game online thank you very much.

The problem about reviewing a title like Forza 3 is that a lot of the game is highly community based. Depending on how the community receives and supports the game, as well as depending what new packs become available to upload the score I give the game today has the potential to go even higher. The game really needs to be out for a few months to really do some features justice - so please keep this in mind when you read this review. I personally didn't get too much into this side of the game with Forza 2, but I will definitely be keeping an eye on XBOX Live over the coming weeks. Apparently some sicko's enjoy painting, filming and tuning their cars more than they like actually taking for a spin.

Forza 3 may have 'something for everyone', but for me the heart of the game is how damn satisfying a good lap feels in the hot lap mode. And I guess at the end of the day, the most important thing in a DRIVING game is how much fun you have kissing the apex. Gran Turismo 5 (you knew it would be mentioned somewhere) has a lot of work to do to eclipse this as the premium car game.

Forza Motorsport 3
"This years model is a complete overhaul."
- Forza Motorsport 3
Follow Own it? Rating: G   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 5 Min


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Comments Comments (14)

Posted by Oliver
On Friday 23 Oct 2009 11:46 AM
To be honest I think Gran Turismo is going to come up short against this. There's just those few disappointments you know are coming with Gran Turismo. This sounds awesome and I wish I had a 360 just for this.
Posted by lexcalibur
On Friday 23 Oct 2009 2:06 PM
23 October 2009, 11:46 AM Reply to Oliver
To be honest I think Gran Turismo is going to come up short against this. There's just those few disappointments you know are coming with Gran Turismo. This sounds awesome and I wish I had a 360 just for this.
I'm a die-hard Sony fan, but I agree with Oliver, this game seems too polished to be overshadowed by GT. I mean in terms of graphics and quantity of content, there is no doubt GT will be jaw dropping.

But one thing that has plagued Gran Turismo is it's "ant's in a line" AI (I just made this term up, it basically means all the cars follow eachother in a neat line and AI controlled cars never overtake). Nothing I have seen of it thus far has proved to me that GT5 will be different.
Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Friday 23 Oct 2009 5:28 PM
Wow 9.6! The demo ive had a crack at is pretty polished and the controls i found great as ive never liked the controls in racing games, this is the first ever racing game i felt i could race a car in manual trans and felt really comfortable doing it. Could also be I think the 360 controller is far nicer than the PS2/PS3 control to use.
Racing games arent my thing but Forza3 would be the first ever Id buy... so who knows it may end up in my list.
Posted by p-nutt3r
On Friday 23 Oct 2009 7:45 PM
23 October 2009, 11:46 AM Reply to Oliver
To be honest I think Gran Turismo is going to come up short against this. There's just those few disappointments you know are coming with Gran Turismo. This sounds awesome and I wish I had a 360 just for this.
I'm sure GT won't disappoint. Forza 3 looks awesome.
Posted by Mr.Deflok
On Friday 23 Oct 2009 8:28 PM
Posted by emetic
On Saturday 24 Oct 2009 2:28 AM
It's true; the driving experience is the important bit and this game delivers it.
I didn't like the AI at first, as they did seem pushy, but I'm learning to overtake properly now and they're a lot more pleasant when you're not trying to jostle with them in a forcible overtake.
Posted by emetic
On Saturday 24 Oct 2009 2:31 AM
Oh yah, so is there going to be an NZGamer storefront?
Dudes could gift NZG liveries and vinyls to it which could then be on-sold to anyone wanting to bust out the mad represents. >_>
Posted by leopardsqueezy
On Saturday 24 Oct 2009 10:26 AM
Forza 2 was enough of a kick as it was, so 3 must be truly epic. I'm replacing my recently 3rl'd console purely for this, though I just saw a preview of Crackdown 2 yesterday, there's another reason to cheer.

And with all these comments surrounding AI, honestly, don't get too carried away with it ay. AIs in racing games, Forza included, often feel like enemies in rpgs - just a nuisance to be dispatched as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to build up your team, it's never like playing against people. In Forza's case, you're just trying to destroy your AI competition in order to build up the most kick-ass roster of hypercars possible.
Posted by Omg_a_kid_with_GTA
On Monday 26 Oct 2009 2:02 AM
This game surely is awesome.
Posted by Genocide
On Monday 26 Oct 2009 9:24 PM
Theres nothing like twisting the Veyron off the line on the Nurburgring.
Posted by leopardsqueezy
On Tuesday 27 Oct 2009 2:15 PM
Just picked this game up yesterday (along with a replacement console!)
I can safely add my '2 thumbs up' vote to the pile, though I wonder if anyone else got the same initial impression I did, in that F3's car handling feels a little - just a tiny smidge - lighter, more artificial, and more plastic-y than F2? F2 definitely had the most brilliantly realistic feel, and impression of weight and heft (or lack thereof, obviously, in the case of some of the lighter cars), and traction. Maybe thine eyes and hands doth deceive me, but has anyone else noticed this?
Posted by Astarael
On Wednesday 28 Oct 2009 11:43 AM
I played this at Armageddon (Thankyou NZ gamer =D) Raced the Bugatti Veyron around Nurburgring. It was the most fun Iv had with a racing game in quite a while. If I weren't so damn poor i would buy it.
Posted by Bank
On Friday 13 Nov 2009 4:54 PM
Can't believe people are bringing GT5 into this.
Have faith, Polyphony Digital will make a better game than Forza 3 =D

But right now I wish I had this game! It looks sweet.
Posted by Soyerz
On Saturday 6 Mar 2010 6:07 PM
Great game. So much to do in this game that it is as much value for money as an RPG.

About 20 hours in and still going strong :)