Turn 10 has also done a surprising job of appealing to a more casual crowd with some difficulty options that will really help newbies get in to the game. In particular an auto-brake feature has been implemented that will prevent a player from flying off course. There is also a rewind function which is great for those who run a flawless race and then zone out on the last turn only to wreck their ride. Now a restart is only necessary if the computer AI gets a little too aggressive off the line and damages your car. Forza 3 also offers you more rewards for those willing to go through a bit of an extra challenge by turning off the Stability Control, or Auto Brake, giving you a greater experience and cash reward at the end of races. One of the better aspects of game progression is the new method of how the races are presented. A cycle of the game consists of five years, and a year is complete after finishing a major series of races that happen every two calender weeks in game. In between each major race you are offered three different series in which to participate. The money and experience gained will differ for each series, so if you wanted to blow through the game as quickly as possible you'd be inclined to take on a series with only three races. Once you've finished the game you'll see that you have a huge list of races that haven't been completed, and once you see how massive the list is you'll be playing this game for months to come.
Forza 2 was no slouch in the visuals department, so it's quite impressive to see that Turn 10 really took the game to the next level in visual fidelity. First off, the game now runs at 60 frames per second, and doesn't take a hit unless the most extreme of circumstances takes place (like rolling a car in to the dirt off to the side of a road, or plowing in to another car headlong in an online race). In upping the frame-rate the courses also got a bit of visual polish here and there. Fujimi Kaido obviously benefited from the hardware improvements over the original title, but there are also a bunch of little visual touches that really sell the courses, for example the walls of the Sebring pit now look like individual cinder blocks. These minor details really help show the amount of polish that went in to Forza 3. The only hindrance overall, random bits of pop-in that occur on some of the larger tracks. Audio for the most part remains unchanged from Forza 2. There are new audio tracks that play during races now which can be turned off for those who prefer to listen to engine noise, which surprisingly sounds better than before. I'm also really happy that my Vauxhall Astra still sounds like an angry pack of bees. Again, little touches really sell it home, like the crowd/announcer chatter you can hear at the start of a race on Sedona or Sunset Peninsula.
Next to good track design, control makes or breaks a racing game. I've got to say one of the things I hated about Forza 2 was that heavier cars really felt like you were steering boats. Thankfully as a whole the cars of Forza 3 feel lighter, more nimble, and agile, and the controls feel even better than before. I especially like how the oversteer and understeer of cars feels a lot more manageable, I'm no longer flying off course like I would in Forza 2, instead I am flying through S-curves and managing hairpin turns much better than ever before. The only downside is that my co-workers are picking up on this as well so now our Forza league is more competitive than the last few inter-office seasons that we've run.
So if you're at this point in the review and you need to hear the magic words on whether or not you want to buy Forza Motorsport 3, here they are. You want to buy this game. It works with any skill level and has a great learning curve so it's perfect if you're not too heavy on committing time to learning the curves of the Amalfi Coast. It's great to look at, especially when you get just the right shot when attempting to take photos of your precious ride. And I think most importantly, it's an absolute blast to play, I can't put it down, and it unfortunately affected the timeliness of this review. Gran Turismo 5 may be hitting the PS3 soon, but who cares, Forza Motorsport 3 is available now, and is looking to overthrow Polyphany Digital's race king.
Polyphony Digital doesn't seem to concerned with Forza usurping their crown, but I think maybe they need to take a second look. Seriously this is the best racing game of the current console generation.
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