When racing enthusiasts think of the most intricate and detailed driving simulators, the Forza Motorsport series of video games comes to mind. Hardcore gearheads and tuners are all excited about the new Forza 3 game, and for good reason. But what about casual and younger, less experienced gamers? What makes Forza 3 so great is that it doesn’t leave them in the dust either. Don’t worry, hardcore Forza fans, the developers didn’t ‘dumb down’ the game at all. This review is going to be a bit different because we’re going to look at all the great new features that make Forza 3 fun for the whole family!
The first nifty new feature designed with more casual racers in mind is the Rewind function. Say you’re racing along and don’t brake in time and skid off the road, letting three other cars pass you. Or what if you bump into another racer and scratch your brand new Maserati? Well, just press the select button and you can rewind all the way to the beginning of the race, or at least until before you beefed that last turn. This is a handy feature if you’re not familiar with a track or how to control cars in driving games.
You can also opt to have a trail of arrows guide you around each track, showing you the best route to take around the laps. These arrows will gradually change from green to red, letting you know where the best places to brake are. Of course, this option can be turned off, but it’s a nice handicap for someone who may not be as familiar with the race tracks or how to steer into and brake in turns.
The Forza games are all about tweaking and customizing every part of your car to stay competitive in the races. But what if you don’t want to take all that time, or learn about what all the parts and doohickeys do? No need to get intimidated. With the Quick Upgrade feature, the computer can automatically select the best upgrades for you, depending on how much credit you have (earned from winning races). Then it’ll automatically apply the upgrades you got to your vehicle. This makes upgrading easy to you can get back to racing.
Another thing the game will do automatically for novice players is select the best three tournaments to compete in, based on car class and upgrades. But don’t worry, advanced Forza players. You can still tweak each aspect and part of your car separately, and choose your own tournaments no matter what. Customization is what Forza 3 is all about. You can even customize every aspect of the difficulty level!
There are TONS of cars to buy and unlock, all name brands from top car companies like Ford, Chevrolet, and many more. Maybe even the car you drive to work or school! You can also customize each car’s paint job and decals. You can even go online to buy and sell creations, there are some really creative ones out there! Funny story: while little brother Jeff and I were playing Forza 3 for this review, I remarked that I still liked Ridge Racer better because you could drive Pac-Man themed cars (I’m a big Pac-Man and classic Namco fan). Well, Jeff took the controller from me and within five minutes, made a stylized decal of Pac-Man eating dots to put on our cars. So I guess I can’t use that excuse anymore!
The graphics are as crisp and shiny as a new car. Play control is solid and you can really notice changes in the steering each time you upgrade or tweak your cars. There are a couple of problems with Forza 3, but they’re only minor ones. Loading times can be a bit long, and the game is a bit of a memory hog. There is a second disc to install cars and tracks, so you’d better have a hard drive with plenty of space on it. Like, more than 2 gigs! Yikes!
Despite those problems, Forza 3 is still a fantastic racer. Again, don’t worry, Forza fans. The new features don’t dumb the game down any, you can still tweak each and every aspect of your cars and races. And there’s so much you can do in this game that I know I didn’t list it all here. It’s just that the new features that make Forza 3 more accessible means that you can enjoy it with all your family and friends, even if they’re not as big into racers. And if you’re intimidated by complicated driving simulators like Forza 3, don’t be. This one is really easy to get into and have fun with, too. Any game that makes itself accessible to ALL kinds of games is OK in my book, don’t you think so?
Forza Motorsport 3 is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Lyrics. The songs played in the background are nothing worse than what you’d hear on the radio, though, and most of the time you can’t even hear them over the roar of the engines and squeals of the tires. Of course, adult supervision is always recommended when buying cars and decals online and racing with others on Xbox LIVE. Reading skill is sometimes helpful, but not always required as the easy to understand announcer guides you through all the options while wading through the menus. The new features designed to help novices get into Forza make this a great family game, too. A teen gearhead can race with his or her younger siblings and the whole crowd can have a good time. Older kid gamers would probably get the most out of all the features of Forza 3, though.
This game could also be considered educational, too. I’ve noticed that many preteen kids get excited about the upcoming privilege of being able to drive, so they try and learn all about different kinds of cars as they can. And this game can help them learn. By tweaking every part of real name brand cars and parts, players can learn how their actions affect their driving, so there’s a bit of cause and effect learning there. Plus, there are plenty of interesting facts and history about cars during the loading screens. If you have an Xbox 360 and enjoy racing games with your family, Forza 3 is a great choice.