There is no doubt that Forza has a pedigree; the series has been a favourite amongst race fans for a good while now. Based firmly in the real world, there are no turbo boosts or slow-motion crash replays; this is about real racing. With over 400 cars and over 100 authentically modelled cars and tracks, there is plenty for the purist to get their teeth into and more than enough for the casual gamer to dabble in without feeling overwhelmed.
As soon as the game has booted up you are greeted with a stylish and clean interface that feels right at home in the Web-savvy world of today. The interface is quick and intuitive, the menus zip past without any lag, and you will soon be drilling down into leaderboards, storefronts and vinyl groups with ease.
Graphically, the game is stunning; the modelling on the cars is perfect to a non-enthusiast like me, and the sheer level of aesthetic customisation that is available is incredible. Browse through the auction house and you will find some real works of art. Always wanted a bright pink Audi TT with a picture of Mickey Mouse on the bonnet? Well, here’s your chance. The tracks are picture-perfect and even though you don’t get much chance to look around while racing, the replays are a joy to watch, not only for recapturing those heart-stopping moments where you steal the race, but also just to check out the environments on hand.
The gameplay has had a few tweaks since Forza 2, and I feel this is a good thing as the game now feels more accessible. The default settings do make the game easier, but they can be altered to make it enough of a challenge for your skill level. That said, most drivers will find themselves turning off a couple of assists and switching the difficulty up pretty quickly. The biggest addition to the gameplay – and one that has caused some discussion – is the inclusion of an instant rewind feature. Turn10 has succeeded in making this feature useful without making the game feel ‘arcadey’. Hit the wall too hard or lose control on the final corner and you can instantly roll back to a few seconds before the incident and put your mistakes right. It’s a handy feature, and even though it may challenge the realism of the game, it is useful if not overused.
For the purists, car enthusiasts and grease monkeys, there is the usual tuning area. As somebody who doesn’t know the difference between a crank and a camshaft, I tend to stay away from this part of the game. The times I have strayed in there and ignorantly played with ‘stuff’, I have done more damage than good. Thank heavens, then, for the automatic upgrade options. With a simple press of the ‘A’ button, Forza 3 will spend your credits in the best way it sees fit to upgrade your current vehicle, and there are always plenty of tried and tested set-ups for sale in-game from Forza fans all over the world.
The game is structured differently to Forza 2 in the way it offers events for the player to work through. Pick a car, and a calendar of events will open up and roll along as you progress through the game. Completing these seasons and winning races earns you experience points, credits and free cars, with those prizes enabling access to races in other classes, and so it goes on.
Forza also has a growing and dedicated community. The game offers some superb online racing, and the options for customising races are predictably deep and will keep the community happy for a long time to come.
Finally, Forza 3 has managed to keep up the quality and technical excellence of its predecessor and still managed to become more accessible to a wider audience. I’m very impressed.