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Forza Motorsport 3 Review

5
  • X360

Whether you're on the track racing or off the track tuning and designing cars, Forza Motorsport 3 is incredible.


 The game offers a few different camera styles, including a cockpit view.
Forza Motorsport 3 is a game for people who love cars not just for their looks, but also for the way they drive. At its core is a satisfying simulation of realistic car handling with all of the tuning bells and whistles that fans of this style of game would expect. But the impressive part is that Forza 3 provides all of this while also finding a way to remain appealing for people who might love cars, but might not have a love for the extreme challenge that a full-on driving simulation entails. With loads of enthralling things to do both on and off the track, Forza Motorsport 3 is like a new blueprint for how racing games like this should work.

Like the previous game in the series, Forza 3 widens its appeal by offering a handful of assists that make keeping your car on the track and pointing in the right direction a bit easier. Most of these are actually standard car features, like traction and stability control, and anti-lock brakes. This time, though, you can also enable an automatic braking assist that will slow into the curves for you. With everything turned on, all you're really doing is feathering the accelerator and pointing the nose of your car at the dynamic driving line, and it practically plays itself. That said, there's no button you can push or slider you can tune to turn Forza 3 into Ridge Racer, Burnout, or Need For Speed. The assists merely make the simulation-styled racing more approachable. Though I started with most of the assists turned on, over time I became more and more comfortable with the handling and slowly turned them off.

There's one more thing in place that attempts to make the driving in Forza more palatable to people who might normally ignore a game like this. At any point, you can hit the back button to rewind the race. It's similar to the flashback feature found in Codemasters' GRID, but here there's no limit to how frequently you rewind the race. Any time you blow a corner and completely destroy your car, you can hit the back button and give it another shot. The only real penalty is that your leaderboard position is lowered below the folks that were able to run a clean race. It sounds like the sort of thing that totally breaks any challenge the game might have, and yes, it certainly makes for a nice cushion when you get too aggressive and screw up. But when I think back to the times in Forza 2 when I raced a long, long endurance race only to lose focus near the end and blow my lead--and how that made me never want to play Forza 2 ever again--rewinding a race doesn't feel like it destroys the experience. Sure, you can undo a wreck, but you'll still have to do all that driving yourself. Even with all of the assists on, it's not going to take that corner for you.

The single-player component of Forza 3 guides you through multiple seasons of racing, each of which lets you go through different groups of races that are designed for different cars and classes. In this season mode, you're always presented with a few different choices to serve as a next step. The choices you're offered depend on the car you're driving and the tracks you've seen, so after you complete a series you're given choices that let you see tracks you haven't seen before, one that lets you keep on racing in your current car, or one that's built for a different car, giving you an excuse to get a new ride. With each series having its own little poster and set of rules, they each take on a little bit of personality of their own.

 There are plenty of full-on race vehicles awaiting you... once you've earned enough credits to buy them.
Though completing seasons is a good, guided way to move through the events, you can also just call up the event list at any time and see every single series the game has to offer. There are 220 different series in the game, and provided you have the appropriate car for the event and enough experience points to enter, you can jump into any race of any series at any time, season be damned. This is great if you want to seek out specific events as an excuse to drive a specific car. And there are a lot of specific cars that you'll probably want to drive over the course of the game.

There are over 400 cars in the game from 53 different manufacturers, bringing together sensible vehicles like the 2009 Honda Fit Sport (which can get up to decent speeds if you pump it full of upgrades), older cars like the '87 Buick Grand National or the '70 Mustang Boss 429, newer production vehicles like the '09 Lexus IS F, supercars like the '09 Bugatti Veyron, and straight-up race cars with names like "1998 Ferrari #30 MOMO Doran Racing F333 SP." You can carefully spend your credits on individual upgrades for each car, or you can skip all that and use the new quick upgrade system, which lets you choose which class you want to put your car into and then figures out what parts you'll need to get there and how much it'll cost.

You can also drive online with up to seven other players. The default matchmaking options are Halo-like in their construction, allowing you to pick specific race type playlists (like drift or circuit) or letting you hit quick match to get matched up in standard races of varying lengths. Once you're in a lobby, you can vote to skip races and select which car you want to drive, like customized rides out of your garage or off-the-lot stock versions of the game's full complement of vehicles. If you're playing with friends, you can jump into private races, which gives you full control over a ton of different options. There's the obvious stuff, like the track or the number of laps, but you can also specify teams, choose different types of scoring, car restrictions, and more. You can also set up drift races, which score you on how well you can whip around turns, rather than your ability to finish first. You can save your own rule variants for later use, which is handy.

The storefront lets you find all kinds of cool user-generated stuff. 
Of course, there's way more to Forza 3 than just racing. Forza 2 allowed players to use primitive shapes to design elaborate vinyls and slap them all over cars. The designs got absolutely crazy, and players started auctioning off well-designed cars via an in-game auction house. Forza 3 has all of that stuff, but it's been further fleshed out to allow for player-run storefronts. Now, rather than simply auctioning off fully designed cars, players can sell groups of vinyls, full car designs, and tuning setups. You can also put up photos or edited videos. If you're skilled with the vinyl tools or tuning, this seems like it could be a good way to stack up in-game credits, which you can then turn around and spend on the game's high-end cars. Just sifting through the design area and seeing what other users have come up with is almost like a game unto itself.

The look and sound of Forza Motorsport 3 is really fantastic. The car models look great and show off a lot of detail, and more importantly, they move well. The game maintains a smooth frame rate throughout. The menus, most of which show off a stark-white design, are clean, easy to understand, and feel like an interactive car brochure. The audio is awesome, with realistic-sounding exhausts and tire squeals. There's a licensed soundtrack in place, as well, which plays Hard-Fi, The Hives, Rise Against, Adam Freeland, Turbonegro, Logistics, and more. The soothing music that plays during the menus is great, but during races, I found that the music repeated a little too frequently. You may want to build a custom soundtrack if you're planning on spending some serious time with Forza 3.

It's extremely easy to lose hours to Forza Motorsport 3 because it does so much great stuff both on and off the track. If you're at all interested in the reality of racing cars, Forza 3 is amazing from every angle. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
90 Comments
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Posted by AjayRaz

seems like a must buy when i get my 360 ^^ 

Posted by fishmicmuffin

I still haven't come close to finishing Forza 2. Guess I need to do that first =]

Posted by Vinchenzo

Maybe I should buy this...

Edited by desroku

I bought Forza 2 like a week ago and have been playing it like 5 hours a day since, I should finish it in time for this to devour my life as well.

Posted by SuperSambo

Played the demo for this, went into forza 2 and found it near unplayable (and I loved that game!)
 
With this and Borderlands, its gonna be a good half term!

Posted by Carlozz34

not really for me

Posted by ververdan0226
@AjayRaz said:
" seems like a must buy when i get my 360 ^^  "
Same. And until then, Iget Gran Turismo 5.  :D 
 
Hopefully within the next 10 months.
Posted by TripMasterMunky

Can't wait.

Posted by VisariLoyalist

looks better than gran turismo, I've always been frustrated with sim racing games but this seems at least somewhat more forgiving

Posted by sfighter21

Not that it matters but, is this pronounced "For-ZAA" or "Fort-SAA"?  Just curious (I don't own a 360)  : (

Posted by ferrarimanf355
@sfighter21 said:
" Not that it matters but, is this pronounced "For-ZAA" or "Fort-SAA"?  Just curious (I don't own a 360)  : ( "
I pronounce it "For-zaa".  
 
Can't wait, I have my LCE paid off and ready to go.
Posted by SUPERGHOST

Really looking forward to this release!
Posted by L

I hate it when I mess up in an endurance race. So, yeah, this rewind feature is much appreciated. Can't wait to get it!

Posted by zombie2011
@fishmicmuffin said:
" I still haven't come close to finishing Forza 2. Guess I need to do that first =] "
@desroku said:
" I bought Forza 2 like a week ago and have been playing it like 5 hours a day since, I should finish it in time for this to devour my life as well. "
I've had Forza 2 since it came out and i haven't finished it , i have bought all the cars and unlocked all the tracks but i haven't finished career mode. Once you get to the 50 min endurance racing i suggest you just pick up Forza 3. I've only completed 4 of the endurance races and thats only because i hired a driver and let him run the race for me : ). 
 
I can't wait to pick this up hopefully day one.
Posted by Jayzilla

wow, jeff. this was a fantastic review. i have never gotten into a racing game like this before, but you make it sound like i should definitely pick this up.

Posted by MattBodega

I have had no love for driving sims in the past, but I totally want to play Forza!

Posted by JJWeatherman

5 out of 5, yay yay!

Posted by mrbasehart

I've never been interested in the sim-type of racing game, but Forza 3 has totally peaked my interest.  With the reviews almost unanimously positive for the game, it seems like it's not whether Forza can match up to Gran Turismo anymore, it's whether Gran Turismo can match up to Forza.

Posted by Ben_H
@zombie2011 said:
"@desroku said:
" I bought Forza 2 like a week ago and have been playing it like 5 hours a day since, I should finish it in time for this to devour my life as well. "
I've had Forza 2 since it came out and i haven't finished it , i have bought all the cars and unlocked all the tracks but i haven't finished career mode. Once you get to the 50 min endurance racing i suggest you just pick up Forza 3. I've only completed 4 of the endurance races and thats only because i hired a driver and let him run the race for me : ).  I can't wait to pick this up hopefully day one. "
Endurance Races are my favourite part of racing games.  I just zone out and do them.  It's quite relaxing... until you nearly fall asleep and pile your Ferrari F40 into a wall on the last lap, making it unable to finish the race (true story).
Posted by Diamond

Years ago I never really got into sim games.  I bought every Gran Turismo and I had a good deal with fun with em, in their own way.  I had only played a bit of Forza 1, never owned it or even rented it.  So I decided to get Forza 2 when it came out.  Holy shit, I got into Forza 2 more than any other racing sim I ever played.  I designed my own livery (based on a real popular car design) and sold tons of it.  I spent dozens of hours checking out what new awesome cars I could buy.
 
More than anything else Forza 2 was the most playable racing sim + the ONLY real business sim.  I expect the same out of Forza 3.

Edited by Dethfish

Hell yeah, 5 stars. I can't wait to get this game. The one thing that might keep me from buying it though is whether or not you can import vinyl groups from Forza 2. I spent many hours on some of mine and I don't really feel like doing them all over again.

Posted by ez123

Lil Wayne version got batman cah, poun and errthang.

Edited by Chewii101

This review makes Forza 3 even more tempting. Might be the first racing game I bought/play since PGR 3 (....and that came with the 360....) And also, I think the Forza 3 logo is totally badass, one of my favourites for some reason. 

Posted by Tirrandir

This is most definitely looking to be my game of the fall, since I'm not into shooters and Bayonetta got pushed back.   And it drops on my birthday, too!  Can't wait.

Posted by John

I didn't like the soundtrack on forza 1 either. That's were the ipod comes in handy.

Edited by Krenor

great! I'll definitely get this game

Posted by Pirateogta

Nice!  This review bumped Forza Motorsport 3 back up to a 93 on MetaCritic with 29 reviews.  It can only go up from here!

Posted by Ravage
@ferrarimanf355 said:
" @sfighter21 said:
" Not that it matters but, is this pronounced "For-ZAA" or "Fort-SAA"?  Just curious (I don't own a 360)  : ( "
I pronounce it "For-zaa".   Can't wait, I have my LCE paid off and ready to go. "
Actually it is pronounced "Fort-za" It's an Italian word meaning Force and Strength.
Posted by Ravage

I'm so pleased that GiantBomb liked this game. I've got a lot of hopes on it. I even purchased the ridiculously priced Fanatec Porsche Turbo S wheel for the 360 for this game at close to $500 with the wheel stand!
 
The demo rocks loads, just makes you want to play the full game now!

Posted by zombie2011
@Ben_H said:
" @zombie2011 said:
"@desroku said:
" I bought Forza 2 like a week ago and have been playing it like 5 hours a day since, I should finish it in time for this to devour my life as well. "
I've had Forza 2 since it came out and i haven't finished it , i have bought all the cars and unlocked all the tracks but i haven't finished career mode. Once you get to the 50 min endurance racing i suggest you just pick up Forza 3. I've only completed 4 of the endurance races and thats only because i hired a driver and let him run the race for me : ).  I can't wait to pick this up hopefully day one. "
Endurance Races are my favourite part of racing games.  I just zone out and do them.  It's quite relaxing... until you nearly fall asleep and pile your Ferrari F40 into a wall on the last lap, making it unable to finish the race (true story). "
Oh man that sucks. I can never use Ferrari's in Forza games i need my cars to be all wheel drive they handle so much better, whenever i do use a ferrari though i just keep spinning out. 
Posted by Jared

Wow, excellent review Jeff, I cannot wait to pick this up, I'm pumped!!!!

Posted by addictedtopinescent

Im becoming interested in racings sim lately, dunno why

Posted by Jerr

MUST...NOT....BUY....NEED....MORE....MONEY

Posted by F1

Totally expected a perfect review. I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Posted by RHCPfan24

Fantastic review Jeff!! I really haven't cared much about this but over the past few weeks this game has looked increasingly great. I will surely buy this soon.

Posted by bigsmoke77

That buick is beautiful!
Posted by bornagain888

I like the clean menus in this game as well because they seem very easy to understand what is going on.

Posted by Milkman

For most games, I always wait for a few days after release so I can see all the reviews. Actually, pretty much all games. But this one of the rare, rare instances where I knew from the second it was announced that I was going to play this game.

Posted by DavidSnakes

Damn, Jeff *really* likes this game.

Posted by Adamk24
@ferrarimanf355: 
 
It's pronounced with a T like Fort-za
Edited by Media_Master

Nice!! 
Now to see how well Grand Turismo does...

Posted by Reuben

Can't wait to get this game, great review Jeff!

Posted by target_render

I'm not a racing game fan, but this might be a good game to start with.     Nice review.

Posted by bwooduhs

I wish i had the money to afford this but i don't

Posted by RsistncE

I thought NFS Shift was much better than Forza 3 but then again I haven't been in much agreement with GB reviews as of late for some reason.

Posted by Tirrandir
@RsistncE: Not to be rude but ... since Forza isn't out for two weeks, how do you know if it is or isn't better?
Posted by lightsoda

And let's not forget, it's really manly.

Posted by GodzillaVsJapan

@Tirrandir said:
" @RsistncE: Not to be rude but ... since Forza isn't out for two weeks, how do you know if it is or isn't better? "
it's not rude when he clearly knows nothing about racing, automobiles, or customization. He is probably basing his opinion on the demo. NFS hasn't been good since they stopped doing Hot Pursuit 
Posted by gla55jAw

The Buick Grand National is a turbo car with a lot of horse power for 1987
Posted by Karmann

This is obviously a must-have game if you own a 360. But I'm still anxious about GT5, let's hope it really does come out in March!

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