Cars going around in circles, it’s generally what I think of car racing, and also racing games for the most part, there are exceptions to this rule but they are few and far between. Forza 2 managed to grab some of my time due to the community that developed around it, and the good times to be had online with friends. Motorstorm for a similar reason along with it’s more arcade action feel, but Forza 3…… where does it stand in the current onslaught of titles in the racing genre?
When it was announced at E3 earlier in the year, it came as somewhat of a surprise to me that the shipping date was less than 5 months away, the announcement on the other hand was expected. The changes between Forza 2 and Forza 3 are considerable, but in my opinion it is the loyalists that will notice these changes, most people that are new to the franchise might not be able to pick up the majority, but it is ironically these same gamers that might benefit most from some of the changes.
The biggest improvement in Forza with this release is the scalability, I am not good at racing games, I could beat some people that enjoy them by virtue of playing so many games, and I seldom come dead last in races against the ButtonMasher community due to my overly aggressive driving style, but at the same time, I will very seldom place in the top three in any race. Single player experiences are often tainted by not being able to complete every race in a top position missing out on the big money to buy fancy cars, compounded by my loathing of the continual issue of crashing on the last corner of every race and being overtaken by one or two competitors. The addition of the instant rewind function is a godsend for people like myself, there may be a sense of guilty self indulgence in the process, but the fact that I now have a Lamborghini in my virtual garage is something that makes it worth while. Purists might scowl at the idea and call it cheating, but screw them, they don’t have to use it, and since in the online arena it is moot they can still hold their dick waving with like minded racers.
Scalability is also addressed in the structure of the assist system, while it has been around for a while, it is still worth mentioning that the game need only be as hard as you want it to be. I have worked myself up to the point where I now only use the braking line and the anti-lock, something that along with the rewind function has started to teach me how to control the various cars on different corners with varying approach speeds. I’m not a pro, and probably never will be, but an improvement like this only helps me to enjoy the game more.
Racing fans can expect the same high calibre of realism that they crave, there is a lot of technical data streamed into the real time processing of the cars telemetrics, even tire deformation has been added this time to provide even more realistic. The same detail has been added to the cars other areas with more independent moving parts. At a certain point, the details are lost on me and trying to relay them is rather futile.
A nice change for me when booting up the game, after the second disc install (which took about 5 minutes and uses 1.something gigs of HDD space) was that the interface and menu system was given a large overhaul and has a very slick clean feeling. The announcer is helpful but also not overly intrusive, only appearing as needed, and then only to convey important info.
Have I mentioned that the game looks fantastic? The tracks are incredibly well detailed and the cars are set up to match, more polygons, more cars, more of everything really. The cock pit view has also been added, some people will love it, others that don’t usually use it will not even care, but lets remember that it might make it easier for someone to create an overdrift machinima parody using the video editor.
Forza’s auction house was a great feature, Forza 3 expands on it by adding a place to store a variety of content from cars, to designs and pictures or videos. There is again a solid integration with the Forza Motorsport website, you can upload images and videos directly to the site and download them to your computer. The video upload does take a significant amount of time, so be prepared to wait if you have created something that is worth the effort.
It’s hard to find fault with a game that covers so many areas and does it in such detail, efficiency and polish, but there are some nit picking to be done as is usually the case with great games. I experiences some jumps in the frame in a few races, it wasn’t a slow down, but a stutter, this could well be due to my Xbox which seems to be on its last legs. I haven’t seen it occurring frequently but it did happen more than one. Also, with the older cars that feature thinner steering wheels there is a noticeable difference in what the hands are gripping and the actual wheel, some visible space between showing that not everything was executed perfectly, there are also a few strange animation issues that prevent me from believing they are the hands of a real race car driver carrying out my commands.
Overall I feel that the changes made are for the betterment of the gaming community and that many people will be able to enjoy Forza Motorsport 3 that haven’t been able to previously. The community features are also a vast improvement on a system that already killed the competition. It’s about time that developers took note of how to let gamers interact and implement it. Forza is as promised the most comprehensive racer to date, easily making it the benchmark for others to strive towards and for racers to enjoy.