Turn 10 Studios made some rather bold promises at E3 this year, and presented Forza Motorsport 3 as the Bugatti Veyron of racing games, further upping the ante by including the actual car. After the demo came and went it seemed like an absolute epic disaster would have to befall Turn 10 to prevent them from delivering what was looking to be the most polished and beautiful racing game since the Gran Turismo burst on to the scene. Forza 3 has landed in my eager hands and after so many trips around “The Ring” I've got to say that I didn't think Turn 10 could improve much from Forza 2, but the new courses, cars, options and robust online options make Forza 3 one of the best racing games ever made and may even topple my all-time favorite racing game, Ridge Racer 4.
Now I know the differences between a racing game like Ridge Racer and Forza 3 are clear as night and day, but hear me out. For everything that Ridge Racer did right back in 1999, Forza 3 does 2009 and then some. The track design of the new Forza courses like Camino de Viejo alone are on par with the track design of Heaven and Hell from Ridge Racer, and of course show off the amazing visuals that Turn 10 was able to push out of the 360. Fans of the previous Forza games will also find a few tracks missing from Forza 2 make a rather triumphant return, like Fujimi Kaido, an uphill and downhill mountain battle that even fans of Initial D will be hard pressed to find faults with. It also makes the perfect course for the new drifting battles that you'll find many people running online in cars tuned to make the user out to be the next DK.
A racing game is typically only as strong as the cars it makes use of. Turn 10 went out and secured 400 cars for this game, with a good variety of muscle, tuners, and old classics that I personally could never hope to drive, but Forza 3 will make a fine substitute. The options available for all of these cars is downright staggering. Personally I am a front-wheel drive fan, so when I see the option to switch up the drive train and make a rear-wheel drive into a front-wheel or even all-wheel you can imagine I am pretty damn excited for the possibilities. There are also a great deal of customizations to the actual performance capabilities of the car, and the newest inclusion this time is roll-cages for better handling. You can also alter the tire sizes of the front and rear tires differently to further affect your ride. Once you've got the parts in place you can go in and adjust individual components like the ride height, gear ratios, downforce, brake pressure and many many more, allowing you to outfit a car specifically for drag racing, or drifting, or just to put some old fashioned rubber to the road for credits and experience.
Once you think you've got the performance of the car figured out, it's high time to make it look nice. This time around Turn 10 opted for a more community geared aspect for getting your car to look as unique as you envision it. With the new store front every person with a copy of Forza can create and sell vinyl groups to be placed on to cars and can make in-game profits with each sale, or if they are feeling generous they can just throw it up there for the whole world to download for free. You can also pick up tuning setups and even full blown car designs where everything is made to specification, right down to the paint job. I haven't sold much with the stuff that I've uploaded, but it sure does feel good to see someone online who downloaded my setup. Though the amount of money I've made versus what I've spent on vinyl designs still keeps me out of affording some high end cars.
This time around Turn 10 was really good on awarding cars that actually felt like they were intended to help you progress through the game and the money you get should only be spent on fixing up the cars. I really only went out of my way to buy cars I wanted to drive, but I've got to say I was a little bit disappointed that the money I spent on buying the Collector's Edition of the game didn't give me the cars it advertised initially. Sure the cars were present in the game, but some of them were are prohibitively high prices. But the cars I've been awarded so far have helped me sail through the game. Some of the cars they hand out become ridiculously over-powered, like the Mine's R34 Skyline, that car will beast through any R3 or R2 tier races with ease, provided you can handle it.
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