Forza Motorsport 3: review


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  • Format: Xbox 360
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
  • Developer: Turn 10 Studios
  • Players: 1 – 2 (offline), 2 – 8 (online)
  • Site: http://forzamotorsport.net

Racing games are very good at welding themselves firmly in to some rather specialist rooms that only appeal to some. You have the Mario Karts that will declare themselves as the gamers’ racer, you have the Gran Turismos that insist on belonging in the garage with the gear heads. Then you have Forza, the game that decides to crowbar the door off every room and dance between them making everyone in the house happy.

The most noteworthy thing about Forza is how damn helpful it is. This game is the perfect wedding dress. It can be painstakingly tailored to suit your gaming curves, whether you are a timid mouse of a racer or a speeding demon of the virtual track. How it does this initially is to ask you what difficulty you would like to play, giving you the revolutionary options of easy, normal or hard.

As earth shattering as that is, these default difficulty settings are only your starting point which automatically selects a number of driving assists to aid you. This plethora of options includes whether you having automatic braking, stability control, assisted braking, a racing line lovingly painted on the road, whether you drive with an automatic or manual gear box and if you want the AI to simulate Lewis Hamilton or Mr Blobby. All of these things can be modified, either by being turned on or off or changing the severity of the effect, like only having a racing line that helps round corners.

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This has the makings of a very costly pile up

You can change it so it is the perfect racer for you which is a brilliant system in itself. If Forza Motorsport 3 was a swimming pool, the life guard there would be as useful as a snooze button on your car alarm, for the sole reason that you can dive into the water at any depth. This does mean to a large degree that the game is as challenging and lengthy as you make it, so if you want an easy racer that lets you feel like God whilst playing, or you want a racing sim that will take you out back and shoot you if you go wrong, Forza will appeal.

It is an unwritten yet widely detested law when racing against AI that eventually you will cock up on the final lap so bad it’ll take you into last place and cost you the world championship in imaginary cars. Thankfully, Forza addresses this frustration as well.

Up until recently, time travel in motoring has been limited to a modified Delorean driven by Michael J Fox that, although capable of doing so, did not really utilise going five seconds back down the corridor of time to put right a mistake in car handling. Forza has the incredibly useful feature that lets you rewind races to correct single mistakes, such as taking a corner too fast or being knocked off the racing line when that pile of tyres totalled your Aston Martin DB9. This makes the game a lot less frustrating than it has the potential to be, but abusing it too much might make it seem like the ultimate legal cheat. Of course it isn’t a feature that happens in multiplayer so it is still in your interest to learn how to drive properly.

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Is it just us, or does the white Alfa have an owl's face?

Perhaps Forza’s difficulty manipulation is a victim of its own success as it would be very easy for someone to spoil the game for themselves and make it like shooting fish in a barrel with a light artillery piece. To keep it interesting you are going to need to show a little bit of self restraint.

Of course you can also keep your interest in it by the sheer amount of motoring power that is laid out in what must be one of the most expensive buffets ever. There are Audis, BMWs, Bentleys, Chevrolets, Volvos, Porches, Ferraris, Lexuses (or is it Lexi for the plural?) and even Bugatti makes an appearance with their thousand horsepower monster, the Veyron. This just barely scrapes the surface though with over 400 cars from every car manufacturer we can think of, all with the potential to be tuned and upgraded.

They all handle noticeably differently and have very handy stat sheets included with them telling you what they do best and how they perform against other cars. It also means that you have plenty of choice when it comes to picking the car you know you will never be able to afford and then hammering it around a race track with no regard for your health, safety and front bumper. The amount of £1.4 million super cars we managed to destroy just for fun is probably an indication that we’re not destined to upgrade past a Peugeot 107 just yet.

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You'll wince when you take the next corner wrong

For those achievement chasers out there who like nothing more than a night in to stroke and caress their throbbing Gamerscores, Forza has a nice range of achievements that actually look possible to get. None of the whole ‘complete eight laps in under a minute and then save the world’ type achievements that will have you chewing the analogue sticks off. Some will test you sure, but nothing that can’t be attained by a casual racer playing the game naturally.

Forza Motorsports 3 is the racing game equivalent of an accessibility ramp made out of gold and unicorns. Boasting a huge number of cars, and the tracks to thrash them around, including well known places like the Nurburgring and Silverstone, there really is everything you could want from a racing sim. With user generated car designs, online racing and car trading support, and graphics that make super models look like dogs as the cherry on top, it is the racing sim that’ll bring you to your knees and make you hope it got published in the afterlife too so it can still be played if you get hit by a bus.

10/10

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Written by Anthony H

Anthony has been playing games for far too much of his life, starting with the MS-DOS classic Mario is Missing. Since then his tastes have evolved to include just about anything, but his soft spot lies with shooters and the odd strategy game. Anthony will inspire you with his prose, uplift you with his wit and lie to you in his biography.

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