Terminal Gamer Review – Forza Motorsport 3

Forza Motorsport 3 is exciting, fast-paced, gorgeous racing

Forza Motorsport 3, developed by Turn 10 Studios, had me believing that I was driving a Bugati. 250 miles per hour down Le Mans’ straightaway. French villages flying by. When I climbed into my Honda Accord, sixty felt ridiculously slow. I wanted, no, I ached, to hit the accelerator. To pick up the pace until the trees blurred by and the sound emanating from my engine growled. I stopped myself before I did something stupid, like getting a speeding ticket. Forza 3 is so realistic, so intensely gorgeous, the sound so perfectly tuned that I didn’t just enjoy the experience, I lived the experience of driving.

Forza 3 has a stunning collection of 400-plus cars ranging from little Renault’s to powerful Formula One Bentley’s and Ferrari’s. The sheer array of cars is awe-inspiring, and completely within the grasp of any Forza 3 players from the get-go. The “Free Race” option from the main menu of Forza 3 allows players to race on virtually any of the game’s many tracks and cars, which is a testament to the goal of Forza 3’s developers – to create a racing game that is both accessible to the casual gamer and to the racing-fanatic. Forza 3 can be as easy and carefree as Mario Kart and as trying and difficult as racing around the Nurburgring in real-life.

Forza 3's cars are beautifully tuned, and the "Free Race" option allows you to play anytime, with any car you want

Forza 3's cars are beautifully tuned, and the "Free Race" option allows you to play anytime, with any car you want

The game features the aforementioned “Free Race” mode in which, and it also features an impressive campaign mode. The campaign mode, undoubtedly the center piece of the game, features the ability to begin driving E-class cars and work your way up to the Formula One circuit. You play through several seasons in which every week you perform in one race that is a part of a larger series that you have elected to participate in and one race that is part of the class championship. Perform well enough in the races and you’ll not only earn money, but you’ll earn rewards such as cars from makers eager to sponsor you, and discounts on equipment upgrades. As you move up through the different classes, the races become more hotly contested, the technical skills required grow more difficult, and the speed of the cars increases hugely. To begin racing in 120 mile per hour E-class cars and to work your way up to 220 mile per hour Formula One cars is a racing enthusiast’s dream. The variety of series to choose from during each season is impressive and makes for a great amount of replayability. In addition, it’s always fun to earn free cars and gain favor with certain manufacturers.

Forza 3 features gorgeous cars, gorgeous courses, and is easy to play if you're a beginner, and difficult for those seasoned racing vets

Forza 3 features gorgeous cars, gorgeous courses, and is easy to play if you're a beginner, and difficult for those seasoned racing vets

Luckily, the campaign of Forza 3 is also easily accessible to the racing newbie. Auto assists are turned on for beginner-level racers, such as auto-braking on corners, colored guides on the track that indicate when to accelerate and decelerate, and easier opponents. And racing enthusiasts will find that drifting, gear shifting, and perfect timing are in full array throughout. The car’s respond differently to different drivers, and form a fun, amazing campaign experience for all.

Speaking of the cars, they handle beautifully. The E-class Renault’s, Hondas, and Ford’s (among others) are slow to accelerate and rarely hit 120 miles per hour. They turn corners slowly and are far from sensitive to your touch. On the other hand, the Formula One cars jerk out of the starting position, zero to 60 in a matter of seconds. They whip around corners with just the slightest touch and can go sailing clear off the track if even gently bumped into at high speeds.

The car’s interiors are gorgeously detailed, and they completely enveloped me in the experience. Little details really stood out, from the familiar dash of the Honda Civic to the almost alien set of lights on the Formula One Ferrari’s steering wheel indicating RPMs. The developers clearly put a lot of love and time into crafting accurate interiors.

If you drive a Ferrari in Forza 3, you'll actually feel as though you're behind the wheel of the real thing

If you drive a Ferrari in Forza 3, you'll actually feel as though you're behind the wheel of the real thing

It’s also obvious that the developers spent lots of time getting hands-on action with the vehicles. The pitch of the engine’s roars are perfect. The sudden burst of noise as I approached a stand full of screaming fans put a smile on my face. And the handling of the cars themselves are a testament to the excruciating detail put into making each car unique and beautiful. Every single car handles a bit differently. While the Formula One Audi couldn’t hold a candle to the 250 mile per hour Bugati, when it came to corners, the Bugati skidded and hissed and just couldn’t keep up with the incredibly smooth turning of the Formula One car.

The Nurburgring, Le Mans, Maple Valley, the Italian coast, Montserrat, and the Mt. Fuji hill climb were all incredibly beautiful, challenging, and most of all, fun courses to race on. They offered plenty of turns, a wonderfully long straightaway (Le Mans), and a huge variety of conditions leading to portions of races when I just hit the accelerator and portions where braking control was the essence of my survival. There was plenty of window-gaping to be had on these gorgeous courses that had rolling hills in the distance, French and Italian villages, shining, blue water beneath the side railings on the roads, and rocks shining in the sun on mountainsides. But, there were several courses, such as Sebring International Speedway, that were flat, ugly, and as a result, boring. No matter how many turns these other courses had, no matter how sunny the skies were above my car, the boring scenery and lack of diverse terrain lulled me to sleep. In addition, while there are literally dozens of “courses” to race on, the honest truth is that most of the “courses” are simply abbreviated parts from a core of about a dozen full-length courses.

After many hours spent racing in many different cars, Forza 3 occupies a special place in this gamer’s heart. Never before have I felt so entirely engrossed into the gaming experience as to feel as though the game were actually reality. When I stepped into my Honda Accord and found the roads around my home to be slow, itching for acceleration, I realized that Forza 3 was a completely engrossing, involved, detailed, and beautiful experience. It isn’t just a great racing game, it is the best racing game I have come across. It offers racing for beginners and experts alike, and the sheer variety of dream cars to test out will keep players coming back time and again.


Scorecard


9


+ Incredibly beautiful, realistic cars that made me feel as though I was actually driving them

+ Gorgeous, gape-inducing tracks

+ “Free Race” mode which opens up the more than 400 cars immediately open inserting the game disc

+ A fantastic campaign mode


– Some of the tracks are not gorgeous, feature no topography, and feel like they are the ugly siblings of the more beautiful tracks