Forza Motorsports 3 – Xbox 360 Review

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With Forza Motorsports 3 I expected to find a rival to Gran Turismo. While I know that it’s bad to a pre-designated bar established, Forza does tout itself as a game that can hold a flame to GT. And from what I saw and played it can certainly hold a flame but albeit a lighter flame compared to a torch.

When I opened the box I found two little gifts inside that, I am assuming, come standard with every game. Inside was a Zune pass for a 14 day free trial of the Zune Marketplace in which you can download as much music as you wish for $15 a month. The second gift was a card explaining that there were cars online that you could unlock in the game through XBL. I thought this very interesting and a nice touch.

The game comes with two disks, one game disk and an install disk. Now, you can’t cut out the middle man and start with the install disk but you have to wait for the game to prompt you to put the disk in. I thought this a problem that could have been avoided in the beginning. Past the install stage you are asked to set your driving style ranging from beginner to pro, the earlier having all of the handicaps enabled and the latter having everything taken off and damage actually affects your performance.

Right from the beginning the game goes for a more cinematic/realistic feel than executing its own style. A car is put on display next to the menu which accents and highlights the game’s high level of detail. While in races the cosmetic damage your car sustains appears in great detail, more impressive than Need for Speed’s even, and the cars look great. The environments however felt fake and stiff. At many moments within the career mode I found myself wondering if my car was moving or if the environment was moving under my tires. The sounds that cars made every time they collided felt as if they were synthetic and had no real basis of creation. Again this game suffers the fate like so many before it, a race world that doesn’t seem very real beyond the track.

The career mode is set up like most racing games: a race in a supped up car but then dumped into a pile of crap car that you have to work with to get to the top. However this time around, you seem to be plagued with a very low set of vehicles. The game doesn’t even give you the specs of the cars which is testament to just how horrible they perform. Needless to say your racing experiences from that point until you earn enough to move up will be lackluster. Once you do move up in the racing world you choose to race by event calendar, with races occurring on certain days of the week and sometimes 3 events in one day. While this is a new method, for me, of organizing your racing career I think it does well for the amount of events that you go through. It also gives a sense of progression too and not just looking at stats of where you used to be.

Fine tuning your car is made easier this time with an option to Quick Upgrade. This system will modify the general overall performance as much as it can with the available credits. While it’s nice for the average racer, alot more can be done by going in and customizing things yourself. As for controls nothing has really changed. But having played Need for Speed: Shift I did notice how its control system felt like it was more responsive and made handling somewhat better. Shifting from reverse to first gear is alot quicker than Shift which helps a great deal.

Also like Shift, Forza sports an arrow guidance system that can aid you in driving should you have the level low enough. This can both hinder and help as red arrows will slow your car down without you touching the brake. Once you account for this in your driving it becomes less of an issue. Now, something I noticed while playing is that the AI will follow these arrows ridiculously. They will hardly ever deviate form this course so dirty racing is somewhat of a must. All racing games have a mini map that tells you what the track is like and where opponents are. The map on Forza is a tiny thing that is covered mostly by your green indicator arrow, covering any close racers. While it is helpful to see what the track will be like even if you end up in the dirt you will not be overly affected. Acceleration is pretty much the only thing that will change with handling remaining pretty stable. If you ever did find yourself on dirt or heading for a wall don’t expect to be blown away by the sound your car makes. The sounds that cars made every time they collided felt as if they were synthetic and had no real basis of creation, like a baseball bat hitting cardboard under a blanket.

The online portion of the game was much more interesting and exciting. You have the option to choose between all the different race types, drift, circuit race, and drag. I chose the ciruit race and I was surprised to find that I could choose any car from the list of dealers that were listed. You could choose a top tier car and race with it regardless of what other people had. However racing with your own car is beneficial in it’s own way as you know just how it feels and handles. Auction House was very interesting in that cars that had been modified and customized by other players could be bought and sold for Credit Points. One could simply race online alot and rack up Credit Points to buy the car they want to have. While racing I noticed that things looked better than their single players counterpart. I’m not sure why but it was a subtle shift in detail or something that made me enjoy racing through online tracks much more. The one downside to online was the number of available tracks. There were alot of different tracks per location but most were just mirrors which is not that appealing.

All in all I would have to say that Forza Motorsports 3 is a solid racing game worth the look if you are in need for a racer. While most of the game is to be geared to the average racer, there are finely tuned aspects of the game that will appeal to the more hardcore. Give it a go if you want a good racing game or save up for the gorgeous appearance of Grand Turismo 5 soon to be gracing us.

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