First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Forza Motorsport 3
Fantastic news, Forza fans: Forza Motorsport 3 is more of everything that gets you going, with the added bonus of a smarter structure!
- Smooth racing, great multiplayer and deep editing features -- as usual, deep career mode doesn't seem to end, insanely pretty
- Realism is intimidating and annoying for casual drivers, inelegant rewind feature
I'm not a big car nut but I can understand why people appreciate a well designed automobile. Something about the blend of power and aesthetics inspires a natural sense of excitement and wonder. Forza 3 is sort of like an exotic auto: it looks great and its obviously powerful but it's really meant for hardcore car nuts. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Forza 3 inspired some mixed feelings in our reviewer Mitchell who thought that the game's slick modes and pretty graphics had a lot to offer but it somehow failed to keep him glued to the driver's seat. Read on to find out why, despite the game's obvious quality, he kept putting the controller down.
Fantastic news, Forza fans: Forza Motorsport 3 is more of everything that gets you going, with the added bonus of a smarter structure! Bad news, everyone else: Forza 3 is more of everything you don't like or care about! Hey, at least we can all agree on one thing: the cars, tracks and environment detail look gorgeous.
There's an obvious effort to open Forza 3 up to accessibility, to the point where driver assists practically take the control of the game away from you. For a time, I was winning races simply by holding down the right trigger--no joke. Once I amped up the realism, I found myself relying on the error-adjusting rewind feature. I adored this thing in DiRT 2, and it's a handy helper here, even if it is annoyingly clunky.
Hopping back a few seconds alleviates the frustration of a botched hairpin turn or spot of fishtailing aggression by the brainy AI without intruding on purist territory. It's a nice balance between forcing you to rely on your skill but giving you a mulligan when you truly need it. These perks still don't change one thing, though: this is a hardcore racing game that caters to the hardcore crowd.
The Never-Ending Story
Here's where the aforementioned sim-nuts start getting all hot and bothered. Forza 3's revamped single-player structure is markedly improved over its predecessor's. Your career is built on the back of six seasons spread out over calendar years. Events unfold around your vehicles, granting you access to class, car and rating specific series that cap off with weekend world championships. Wait, weekend world championships? If that doesn't psyche you up before you start a series then I don't know what will. Like Forza 2, earning experience and boosting your driver level lets you pour piles of cash into awarded vehicles, which keeps your garage growing and the game going. With expanding content accompanying progression, Forza 3 doesn't seem to end. I can't think of a more compelling incentive to keep racing.
Much to my surprise, however, I regularly wanted to stop playing. My progression severely slumped from the second season onward thanks to each event including bigger, longer races. My heart sank every time I saw that the next event would take 20 to 30 minutes to finish. The uphill battle had me taking regular breaks or hiring AI drivers to get through races for me. Multiplayer is also a solid go-to game when the solo mode slows. Since you can adjust a ton of in-game variables, you're able to essentially create your own online game modes for you and your buds. This creativity also bleeds over to the editing features. Talented artists (read: not I) can create killer custom liveries with the streamlined paint editing tools, and a flexible video editing suite lets you easily cook up some sweet vids to share.
The Long Road Home
Forza Motorsport 3 isn't exactly a leap for the series. The incredible realism of Forza's physics, car mechanics and driving simulation, especially when it comes to the slippery, hard-to-control upper-class cars, is going to bore arcade racers or casual drivers. But car junkies and passionate racing gurus are going to find a nice cave to hole up in for the next few years and it'll make you less jealous when PS3 owners start crowing about Gran Turismo 5.
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