gaming since 1997

Ford Racing 3

The last five or six games (if it doesn’t seem much, think again!) I’ve played weren’t satisfying at all, not that surprising of course as they all were crappy. Now, even half an hour of Bombastic couldn’t cheer me up anymore. So, I actually started to believe that videogames were no longer the inexhaustible spring of joy in my life. Then Ford Racing 3 ogled between the assignments. Other critics didn’t seem to have a particular interest in this game, on the contrary even, so I thought it was everything or nothing: if this game doesn’t cheer me up then I quit playing games, so will I? You’ll have to read the review to find out or you can jump to the conclusion if you want to cheat.

The intro made it a very dubious case as it did show potential but wasn’t used to bring a convincing and splattering scene of fast action. However, the arty background in the start menu showed off with the new GT40 so my heart started blooming after all. I started with setting the options right because I had seen a Pro Logic commercial but I guessed it would be turned off by default.

However, after I changed it from the standard stereo it didn’t seem to be much of an improvement. The background music isn’t real-life music from renowned bands but the superficial tunes do serve well for a replacement. Quick race, ah that’s the stuff but not for what sound is concerned because all engines seemed to be using the same sample. Other special effects aren’t astonishing either but combined with the tunes playing in the background it wasn’t the horrifying experience I feared. Later, I found out that this quick race always takes place on the same track with the same car and the same opponents. Come on guys, at least select those three at random because now the quick race mode sucks too!

I tried judging the graphics and they were quite alright at first sight. Not innovating and perhaps artificially clean but the frame rate and detail of the environments were okay as they came close to the NSF:HP2 standard. However, the cars didn’t look so refined which surprises me for this game as I expected cool models to be priority in a Ford racer.

If you made a mistake in NFS like going into a corner with too much speed, you ended up near the side of the road. Coincidentally, there always happened to be a rock with which you would collide and there you stood as in “not moving against 200 km/h anymore”. FR3’s approach is a little bit old-fashioned. When you fear to run straight into a barrier, you are only guided along an invisible wall and thus almost nothing is lost except for some speed. It is not so extreme that you’ll glide alongside a wooden cabin but on most tracks there are only one or two of those critical points so in that way it follows the NFS:HP1 standard which doesn’t do it anymore these days.

I also noticed that cars don’t get dirty, I drove through dust, mud, snow, gravel, sand and water but the car came out shining new. Neither can it be crashed or damaged and I don’t care what reason there might be, Ford not wanting to have their cars look bad is one possibility, it just doesn’t feel real.

Then again, this game isn’t intended to be real instead it gives you instant old-fashioned fun that hooks you up for hours (at first). So, luckily I am relatively disciplined and after three hours of non-stop playing I managed to turn the black box off. Well, actually it was turned off for me because the electricity stopped functioning (no, we do manage to pay our bills, it was a technical problem). I had tested the auto-save so I knew there wouldn’t be much progress lost and started to look forward to playing again after school.

During class I couldn’t stop thinking about playing on. The modes are extremely addictive because they work with a magnificently thought-out unlocking system, progress-tree and driver status progress-bar. Of course if playing isn’t fun, this wouldn’t do any good but the gameplay is rather excellent. There are so many, original and completely different modes that are so much more fun than playing dozens of ordinary races. Driving between cones, overtaking a certain amount of cars within a time limit, elimination, collecting sixty items and finish in time, drafting, time attack and so on and so on. These games are so exciting and intensive that your heart is pounding in your throat after a race as the slightest mistake could lead to failure. After completing a challenge you’ll unlock a car, race-type, track and more but that is only necessary to make the choice of what you want to play next easier.

However, after playing for like seven or eight hours, things start getting less interesting. Everything still is fun but the hardest difficulty setting isn’t good enough. Some challenges will be rather difficult to complete but only because the opponents are unrealistically faster or your target time is set very tight. Other tests are very likely to be finished on hard after only one try. Twenty-six tracks, fifty-two cars and eleven modes are definitely nice but after you’ve unlocked and finished most things, I doubt if you will keep playing just for the sake of it. Perhaps some slight improvements on other area’s are also necessary to make Ford Racing 3 really stand out.

Luckily for me, Ford Racing 3 at least made me happy and eager to play again but I do want to apologise for those who I have given false hope, BillieTurf does keep on going. I’ve searched the net and concluded that FR3’s price varies rather strongly but with an average of twenty-five euros I think it is rather cheap. Are there still doubts in your mind then I suggest you rent it for a weekend which is definitely not a waste of money! If you still like it after two or three full days of playing, it will be worth buying too.

Our Score:
7.0
related game: Ford Racing 3
posted in: PS2, Reviews
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