Game: Forza Motorsport 3
Release Date: October 23rd 2009
Platform: Xbox 360

In the simplest way of putting it, Forza 3 is a sim racer with a lot of options. These options give it the ability to be accessible to the hardcore sim fans all the way down to the most inexperienced of racers. You can really make this game feel how you want it to feel, and alongside the roster of over 400 cars, a deep and personal career mode, and an absolutely brilliant multiplayer experience, Forza 3 is a very exciting racer.

 

 

Presentation

Forza 3 is a major graphical improvement over its predecessor. The game runs at a steady 60 frames-per-second and I didn’t encounter a single visual hiccup or any drops in frame-rate. The environments are gorgeous, if not a little cold, and they really make the game more enjoyable to drive around. The lighting is sumptuous and the draw distance is massive, mountains and forests and deserts are spread out in front of you in fantastically well-realised fashion. The menus are also gorgeously sleek and minimal, adding to the great look of the game at the front end. There is a huge amount of detail on each of the cars, all presented in a beautiful way.

A racing game wouldn’t be much good if the setting was stunning but the cars were poorly created. This is not a problem here. Every single car is meticulously crafted with the highest attention to detail. Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s look gorgeous and exactly like their true-life counterparts. Even the most standard of cars have elegance about them as they zoom round the track. It’s as enjoyable to drive a Porsche as it is a Renault, and you find yourself getting attached to the most unlikely cars as you play through the game. There is also, for the first time, full damage modeling. It is nowhere near the detail and intensity of something like DiRT or GRiD, but it does a pretty good job of enhancing the realism of the experience. You’ll see scratches and dents, some completely broken bumpers, and if you try hard enough you’ll be able to flip your car across the track and witness the damage you can do.

Another boast to the visuals is the absolutely stellar vehicle customization tool. You can really go to town with the art you want to put on your car. There is even a livery editor so that you can create custom designs; this gives incredible freedom to the player. These designs can then be bought and sold on the extremely robust online marketplace. This enables the player to show off their designs. There are some such passionate ideas on the marketplace; it’s really great to see such an in-depth online community in a racing game. The audio matches the visual standards, featuring authentic vehicle sounds, which sound varied and realistic, tires screeching around each corner and a solid soundtrack. My one noted let down was the lack of prominence that the soundtrack takes on the track. On longer races, the lack of background noise other than your engine can get a little tedious.





The career mode is spread over 6 seasons. You start off with one car, which you choose from a short list of default starters. You then start off racing, earning points from each race towards a leveling system. When you level up, you earn a car. This will begin to become addictive; earning cars will be all you want to do for hours on end. As well as being gifted cars for leveling up, you can purchase cars from the marketplace. The points you earn throughout your races will be the currency you use to buy your cars. The career is also dynamic, changing the events offered to you depending on the cars you own, helping to further the enjoyment by making a specific mould for the type of racing that you are most fond of. This ensures for a deep, personal, and fun single player career.

Gameplay

As I said previously, Forza is accessible. If you are a purist player, then you don’t have to play with ABS or Traction Control. If you find racing sims harder, or simply want to have less of a challenge, then you can turn them on, use a dynamic racing line, or even have an auto brake setting which means you will never even have to let off the accelerator. These customizable settings ensure that any player can enjoy what Forza has to offer.

Those who play without the assists on will see that each car has a different feel from the last. Going from a BMW to a Mercedes on the same track, you will have to be careful how you drive, each car will handle and brake differently, adding a great feeling when you fall in love with a car and learn how it handles to perfection.

You can also adjust the AI level to meet your preferences. At the easier and medium difficulties, the AI is quite easy to beat, even for the most inexperienced players. When you crack it up to the hard difficulty however it becomes a real challenge, at times impossible to pass your opponents. It’s a slight shame there were not more options on the AI difficulty as it seems a little bit of a large step from medium to hard, but it is only a minor gripe to note. As for the AI behavior, it is mainly good. If you put pressure on the AI, they will eventually make mistakes allowing you to pass them. They each have passive and aggressive stances when it comes to the on-track action, fighting you off when you try to pass them and vigorously defending their racing line from each other. There were a few moments where the AI made mistakes that were simply ridiculous and it slightly ruined the immersion, but again, a minor point.

There is also the new rewind feature, clearly influenced by the DiRT and GRiD series. While this feature is unoriginal, it gives you a chance to rewind as much as you like to points where you may have made a mistake, or simply would like to replay without restarting the race. Hardcore players may choose to frown upon this feature, but it is not available in multiplayer races, and in the online time standings, the features that players used to complete their laps with are displayed. Therefore if you managed a lightning quick time with all the assists on, a player with no assists on but a slower time will appear above you in the standings. This stops there from being a small outrage from the purist community.

Last but definitely not least is the multiplayer. This multiplayer in this game is perhaps Forza’s most impressive aspect. You can literally customize any aspect of your multiplayer experience, opening up the option to create your own game modes and having fun with them, as you will. You can so many options that the game types are endless, examples such as which cars gets a head-start, which car classes each team can use, and even change the qualifications for winning a race. The majority of your time should definitely be spent here.

Verdict

Forza is a stunning racing game. It encompasses everything that a simulation racer should, while introducing a method of customization to the racing that lets even your younger sibling have a fun time playing without getting frustrated at not being able to win races. The visuals are greatly detailed and the cars are beautifully created, worthy of any player lusting over them. The single player is robust and lengthy, feature a dynamic system that lets the player race the cars they want to race without feeling a sense of stale gameplay. The car customization is endless and encourages player creativity. The multiplayer itself is worthy of special praise because of the amount of options you can tweak in your own game modes. Definitely one of the best games this year, if not one of the best racers on this console.

9/10

Presentation: 9

Beautifully sleek menu system, small gripe with the cold feel of the game, however this is expected from a sim racer

Gameplay: 10

Immersive and customizable, absolute perfection

Visuals: 9

Great environments and sexy car models make it an impressive title

Audio: 9

Great sound effects and solid soundtrack

Lasting Appeal: 10

The single player career is robust in itself, let alone when you add in the large amount of hours you will end up spending customizing your cars and playing online

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