Forza Motorsport 3
A long time ago a Japanese studio released “The Real Driving Simulator” onto the market. The disc rarely left my old Playstation console. The success of the first game justified a number of sequels but although the series tried to continue on its elan it brought enough innovation to interest me still. After this my attention for racing sims died. However, this Summer I rediscovered thanks to Forza Motorsport 2, which I bought after long time doubting. The game brought back my love for cars and I was immediately interested in the next part, Forza Motorsport 3. Can this next sequel ignite an additional spark to my engine or is it going to be crash again?
Those that hope to immediately get going after having bought Forza 3 can let their hopes go down the drain. The game has so much content that it doesn’t all fit on one DVD which means that gamers are asked to first install 2GB of data, including hundreds of cars and three tracks. You can play without the extras, but then you’ll miss part of the game. Cleaning up your harddrive is the message!
Those that install it all can get going with 400 cars. From classics like a Renault 5 Turbo to the horsepower-breathing Bugatti Veyron. All cars are immediately at your disposal and you can buy them straight away. Only the amount of credits on your bank account determines what and where you can buy stuff. Very refreshing and those that immediately want to hit the road with the car of their dreams can get going through the free-play mode. You don’t get credits nor a higher car level with it, but your track times do count for the very addictive online Leaderboards.
The main part is still the career mode which is divided into seasons and seperate events. The Season Play also has a series of events that are placed on a calendar. During the week you participate in small events to afterwards every two weeks drive in a big chapter of the championships. After finishing a full championship a new season starts.
The small events are based on the cars in your garage or previous accomplishments. If you’ve missed an event you can choose from a list of 220 options, going from specific classes or brnds to speedway raced, drifting championships, drag races and exhausting endurance challenges. Plenty of content is present and those that thought Forza 2 had many races can expect a multitude of that!
Next to racing you can also get going with making your cars look better. Next to an improved design mode which we know from the previous part, there’s now also a vinyl edition present. This makes it a lot easier and gives a better overview for designers to create their ultimate vinyls which afterwards can be put on their car. The hard work can also be sold for some nice money in the new Storefront, another innovation, where you can buy or sell complete designs for cars or seperate logos or groups. You can make your creations as expensive and exclusive – or mainstream – as you want.
The Storefront can be used for more than only designs. People with ambitions as photographer can take beautiful pics from their cars and distribute them this way. Other graphical artists can upload their replays. Although it was said a full video-editor would be added this does remain nowhere to be found. Nonetheless a giant amount of camera viewpoints can be chosen during replays and afterwards uploaded to the official website in the form of 30 second HD clips. This gives the possibility to alter them with real video-editors to magical stuff that will make even Jeremy Clarckson jealous.
A last group of car lovers we shouldn’t forget are of course the tuners. The choice of parts isn’t the least: air filters, race valves, a different type of gear or even complete engine changes are only a small number of the extensive options and after installing the pieces you can do fine adjustments. Heightening or lowering the ratios of your gear, adjusting the suspension, oil pressure and even tire pressure all have an influence on the behaviour and driving style of the cars. If you’ve never worked on a car with your own hands before, then you can choose for the Quick Upgrade which has the software choose for the best suiting parts to participate in a certain class or to fullfil certain restrictions. However, puzzling with parts remains a must if you want to get the maximum out of your vehicle. Still not convinced? Then you can just buy a tuning set in the storefront that gives what you need. Of course to be paid in cash, unless the tuner wants to share his knowledge with you for free.
Of course the driving itself remains the most important part of the game and that’s really to lick your steering wheel. Thanks to a buttload of options anyone can play Forza 3. For beginners there’s “one-button driving” which means that players only have to push the throttle and follow the green line while braking is done automatically. Once you think you’re up for more you can start disabling various aids. The racing line can become dotted or get completely removed, and stuff like traction control, ABS and stability control can also be turned off. The less aids, the higher amount of credits you get at the end of a race, but also the feeling that you’re really driving a car is equally satisfying. Worth noting is also that it has become a lot more fun to drive with everyday cars and also here the better driving model and physics make a big difference.
The newest addition in Forza 3, and newest trend in racing games, is the rewind function. Missed a turn? No problem as a press of the button and you rewind a bit. A welcome function for the many moments in the last lap where you get so stressed out that you miss the curve and ruin the race. The perfectionists will no doubt use this feature a lot as there’s no penalty on usage, nor is there a limit on how many times you can activate it. However, there’s one thing that makes this option perfect: those that use it will see their track times drop to the second part of the Leaderboards where the non-certified times are located. True hardcore racers will therefore do everything in their power to avoid this.
The graphical aspect of the game is equally natural as the controls. The cars have a huge amount of detail including perfectly finished lights with interior mirrors, beautifully shaped bumpers and other minuscule details that brand a car. The new cockpit sight is a pleasant newcomer that makes for a bit more realism but can’t compete with the almost life-like cockpits that made Need for Speed: Shift so impressive.
The car damage also looks good as long as it remains to superficial scrapes. Once you see a frontal crash you’ll see the chassis has gotten little to no damage. Not truly realistic but not a huge problem as it has been like this in racing games for decades. The tracks also have a wide variety of colors and a beautiful view. Especially the mountain races managed to appeal to us.
The sound of the cars is at the same level as the graphics. Each car sounds differently and after adding certain parts the car will again sound a titbit more aggressive. Sadly enough we can’t say the same about the soundtrack as the limited amount of music tracks are repeated too often. The choice of tracks is also quite oldfashioned and seems like a compilation of soundtracks from games that were state of the art years ago. Luckily you can turn off the music or get your own MP3s instead.
Those that ilke comparing their abilities real-time instead of on leaderboards can get going in the multiplayer. Forza 3s online possibilities offer plenty of adjustable options that allow each aspect to be altered so you can in effect create your own game. Players can have a handicap, teams can be linked to a certain class and also options like the amount of competitors can be changed. Everything seems possible and it won’t take long before players will have created their own modes.
Forza Motorsport 3 puts down a new standard for racing games. Almost everything looks and feels perfect. Especially the improved road handling impresses but also the amount of possibilities seems endless. Still there’s room for improvement: a better soundtrack for example or better damage models and more cars or the possibility to also compete in rally races. These, however, are improvements we can ask from any top game as in our society we just want more and more. For now I dare to crown this game to: Best Racing Game Ever!