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Forza Motorsport 3!

The follow-up to one of the most popular racing games of 2007 has finally arrived, but will Motorsport be able to entertain its demanding fan base this time around?

First Impressions: Whenever possible, we try to give our loyal website viewers the most video footage and most in depth unbiased reviews imaginable. Part of that development is our "initial impressions" where we offer up our first impressions of the title that we are playing.

This gives our website visitors more of clear understanding of what to first expect out of the game when they initially pop it into their consoles.

If you scroll to the bottom of the page in the Rent vs. Buy section of the review and do not see the "final impressions" assessment then it's safe to say that you are reading our initial impression of the game. Once the final impression is up, there will be no further video or review done to that particular title.

Final Impressions: The final impression is just that, our completed breakdown and overall thoughts on the game based off of our entire game playing time.

You can locate the final impressions assessment in the "Rent vs. Buy" section of the review (always located at the very end of all of our reviews). Here you will be able to read our final thoughts on the title and also see any potential grade changes that were made to the game as well (higher or lower). Should a grading change occur, it will be clearly noted with the previous grade, the new grade, and why the change occurred.

Although this approach is more time consuming and requires many more man hours, our entire goal has always been to provide the best and completely unbiased reviews possible and we feel that the inclusion of the Initial Impressions and Final Impressions sections will give you a better view of what to expect from a new game.

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Making A Salad With Benjamin's: Forza Motorsport 3 features a few different racing modes to choose from. Online play, casual races, test races as well as the main mode: the "Season". You pretty much get what you expect in terms of gameplay modes from a racing game, and you will not find anything new or innovative here.

The Season mode is basically the normal career mode in any other racing game where you take a young driver through multiple racing seasons while upgrading your vehicle and racking in some more of the green stuff (known as "Credits" in Forza 3).

In the Season mode you will, as usual, start out with a modest car to get you started. You will work your way up from small races, to bigger grand prix's and events that will net you some nice amounts of credits if you are able to place in even the top three.

You use the money that you earn throughout your racing lifetime to buy new cars from a massive amount of car manufacturers, as well as buying new parts to equip onto your new ride.

Some of the brands you encounter range from Audi, BMW, Dodge, Ford, Nissan, Scion, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Chevrolet, Aston Martin, Citroen, Buick, Saturn, Pontiac, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Jaguar, Koenigsegg, Hyundai, Acura, Honda, Fiat, Porsche, Saab, Saleen and many others. In total, Forza Motorsport 3 showcases more then 400 different cars! You will have an absolutely huge amount of car brands to choose from to please even your wildest car fantasies. Odds are, if you've ever seen it, you can drive it in Forza 3.

In addition to being able to buy cars in Forza 3, as your progress through your career a number of manufacturers will send you cars (for free!) to race in events. This is the way you will obtain the majority of your vehicles, and is a very nice addition as you will most likely be speding your hard earned credits on new upgrades.

Please make sure that you have at least 2gig of HD space available for the second disc that comes with the game. Disc 2 is the disc that has all of the cool vehicles and race locations to keep you entertained for hours.

If you do not have enough space on your HD for the "extra" content, you will still be able to play the game but you will be missing out on too much of the Forza 3 experience by not clearing some space and installing the additional content.

The Season isn't anything spectacular and is basically race after race with the exception of the occasional tuning job (more on that later) in between. Unfortunately, besides tuning your car, you will find that there are some things missing to make this game what it should be.

Can I Get A Tune-Up Please? As with most racing games made for the next generation consoles, Forza 3 focused heavily on visual customization and performance modifications that can make your car the talk of the town.

Forza 3 has all of the usual graphic features like painting, vinyl's, decals etc. But they take it one step further with the sheer amount of selections to choose from. Not only do you have a huge selection of graphic options to put on your ride, they offer the awesome ability to place legitimate corporations as sponsors on your car.

We are talking about all of the big names in racing. You have Chevron, Fram, Quaker State, Goodyear, Bosch, Citgo, Hoosier, Pirelli, as well as the logo of Forza Motorsport and Xbox's own rings of lights (not the red ones though)!

Allowing you to adorn your high-speed machine with so many visual options is expected from racing titles in this generation, but Forza really raised the bar with cosmetic customization options.

In addition to the visual side of things, Forza also features an enormous tuning system that gives you the chance to alter everything about your car from the engine and wheels to the exhaust.

Assuming you have enough credits stocked away, you can go to town on any car you own by changing and upgrading essentially every part on your automobile. You can adjust shocks, alter the transmission, improve the engine, change out your tires, put in a new tailpipe and much more in what feels like a game in its own.

In fact, to most newcomers to hardcore racing titles like Forza may feel a bit overwhelmed at the heavy customization available to them. Even if you are an experienced virtual tuner, most everyone will have to get used to the sheer vast amount of options that you have at your disposal.

Until you get the hang of the tuning though, Forza 3 has a very useful "Quick Upgrade" option that allows you to automatically improve your car without having to do it yourself. When you select the Quick Upgrade option the game will choose what it thinks are the best parts and configurations for your specific car at that time.

The Quick Upgrade tool is very helpful, especially to those who are still trying to figure out the ins-and-outs of the customization while at the same time being able to upgrade their car. Granted, the Quick Upgrade doesn't tune your car perfectly, but it does a well enough job to keep your vehicle up to snuff while you learn the ropes.

Brake Damn It: The most important part of any racing game is, of course, the actual racing. When you jump into your first race (whether in your Season with an entry level car, or in a quick race with any car of your choosing), you will no doubt be shocked at how Forza 3 plays.

Forza 3 has several "assists" that are aimed to help more "casual" gamers out during a race. Some of these include Auto-Braking, Anti-Lock Brakes, a "Racing Line" (that suggests what angle to be racing at) and a couple others such as how damage affects your car.

However, even on "Casual" difficulty (the easiest) if you disable the Auto-Braking feature you are going to be in for a wild ride.

When you race without the Auto-Brake assist, it feels like there are practically no usable brakes at all on your automobile.

For some odd reason, whenever you brake during a race (without the Auto-Brake feature on) your car will still continue to move at an alarming rate. You often still barrel forward at extremely fast speeds, missing your turns and corners. And you better get used to ramming straight into walls without the Auto-Brake assist.

Now some race nuts will enjoy the "realism" of not being able to drop from 100mph to 50mph in a split second, but it is quite a shock to the system racing without the Auto-Brake assist on.

By contrast, when you enable the Auto-Brake feature, when the game feels you need to, it will automatically brake for you, allowing you to basically just hold accelerate and control the car. With the assist on, it is actually possible to race and place in the top three positions.

The racing in Forza 3 seems to be geared towards two audiences: more "casual" wannabe racers, and balls to the wall hardcore racing nut. There is really no medium, as some may feel Auto-Braking is taking too much control out of their hands, while others may not be able to function without it.

Obviously this causes some troubles, as even on the Casual difficulty the racing is too difficult to grasp within a timely manor without the assists.

130mph? As well as the braking issues you will face, Forza 3 also suffers from some other hiccups that keep it from being as good as it was hyped up to be.

Obviously not being able to control your vehicle well is a hassle, but aside from that, one of the biggest problems in Forza 3 is the lack of true speed.

Despite seeing 130mph on your speedometer, you never get that true sense of speed that you get from other racing titles such as Need For Speed: Shift. The environment does not blur, and in fact it barely moves even though you are supposed to be blazing down a track at mach speeds.

Now, I'm not saying it doesn't feel like you are moving at all, but even in the fastest cars traveling at maximum speed you never feel like you are breaking the sound barrier; as you should feel when jetting at 130+ speeds.

Having played both Need For Speed: Shift and Forza 3, we have to admit that in this area Need For Speed: Shift blows Forza out of the water.

We feel Forza really dropped the ball on the movements of the environments around you. Even when possessing a huge lead in NFS, We were always on guard about losing control of the vehicle and crashing, losing our lead.

The environments around you in NFS moved so fast, most of the time it was just a blur as you looked out the window. This is not the case at all in Forza 3 and it puts a huge damper on the overall "race" feel of the game.

I'll Be Back: The AI in this game is like the terminator. They appear to be superhuman at times and that tends to add even more resistance to you during your races.

When racing, your AI always seems to have the upper hand. When you have damage enabled, for some reason it seems that your opponents do not. Whereas they can practically blow your engine to bits and reduce you to 30mph, they refuse to die even when they are repeatedly spun out, smashed into walls, and bump from all angles.

In addition, if you spinout during a race it is almost a given that you will have to restart/rewind the race in order to attempt to place at all well at the end of your race. But if you spin one of your opponents out, it is likely you will see them creeping up on you later in the race for no explainable reason.

If you are having a ton of trouble during a race and seem to be making too many mistakes, Forza 3 also includes a "Rewind" feature. Upon making a mistake (bumping into a car, going off track, hitting a wall, etc.) the Rewind ability to show itself to you. If you opt to use it, you will be able to bend time and space up to the point before you made the mistake.

This can be infinitely useful as it is a safe bet to guess that most people will be making plenty of mistakes in the early going.

Skip, Repeat, Skip Repeat: While Forza does have some severe mid-race flaws, it doesn't end there with "Forza Gone Bad". Forza 3 also has a variety of bugs and glitches that will often have you annoyed and perplexed at the same time.

In our time playing Forza 3, we encountered a couple glitches that made your gaming experience just a little less pleasant.

One of the most common issues we faced was the soundtrack that plays during the load screens and races hitching, glitching and repeating.

At first it was kind of hard to catch because you are so focused on winning the race, but then after a few minutes of hearing the same glitching audio track you start to realize there is some major problems with the audio in Forza 3.

In fact, the audio issues were so prevalent that in almost every race we entered into the audio would mess up.

Luckily, the audio appears to be on a different coding system then the gameplay itself because although our audio froze, cut off completely, repeated the same note over and over again, the actual gameplay only occasionally experienced any of these issues.

Ice skating, Forza style: The in-game issues with Forza 3 did not stop at the annoying audio issues.

For one brief second or two, the game actually produced an ice like effect on the track beneath our car while we were racing!

Granted, it wasn't a huge issue and did not last very long, but it was surprising to see a racecar driving on ice!

Loading...Loading...Loading: If you're expecting to throw in the disc and get to racing... think again. The load times in Forza 3 are extremely long. Even though they give tidbits about automakers and tips on how to improve your race experience on the loading screen it still takes way too long from the race selection until you actually get to race.

As you will see in the video below, you will select your race and then it goes to a loading screen. After that screen loads you will "start race" and the game goes to another loading screen (albeit much shorter) before you actually get ready to hit the track.

After awhile of playing the game, the loading screens seem to take forever and ever. Maybe we were just anxious to get behind the wheel and burn some rubber?

Nevertheless, for being such a huge title developed by an experienced team, we expect more then 1-minute + load times every time we want to get to racing.

Unfortunately, we feel that Take 10 may have taken a bit too much time with the graphics when they should have been focusing on removing some of the bugs in the game. Don't they test these games before shipping them out to us!?

Ohhh, shiny: Despite its very large share of flaws, Forza 3 does shine in the visuals department. You will be treated to insanely realistic vehicle models as well as detailed and vibrant environments throughout the game.

The cars shine under light and the tracks retain visual damage throughout the race. Miss a turn and knock your back bumper off on track? Expect you and your opponents to be running into that same bumper on the next lap.

While the visuals are spectacular, we cannot say the same about the soundtrack in the game. As we mentioned above, the soundtrack often skips and repeats during load times and races, so you seldom get to hear an entire song before it is stopped in its tracks.

Rent vs. Buy: We have to say, Forza Motorsport 3 was something else. It is tough to explain how inconsistent Forza 3 is in all its fields.

The racing got rather boring with the Auto-Brake feature on, while at the same time was too difficult without having it flipped on. The customization was vast and very impressive, but at the same time is daunting to driving fans. The visuals were eye-popping, but the soundtrack was too buggy to even be listened to.

Whether or not you should try this one out really depends on how you stand on the Forza series. If you liked any of the previous Forza games, I am sure you will get a lot of joy out of Forza 3. If you have never played a Forza game before or you never really liked the series, then this probably isn't something you should be shelling out the big bucks for.

Forza Motorsport 3 was a decent game, don't get me wrong it was somewhat fun, but it just didn't live up to the hype that surrounded up leading up to the release. But, maybe that's not as much the game's fault as it is the marketing department's fault. It is tough for most games to live up to massive hype like that, and perhaps we set our bar so high for Forza that when push came to shove it just couldn't deliver.

As long as you are somewhat a fan of the Forza franchise, this is an easy rent. But, if you are looking for something less intimidating, then maybe you should just pass on this one and perhaps look at Need For Speed: Shift or some other racing title.

Report Card

As long as you are somewhat a fan of the Forza franchise, this is an easy rent. But, if you are looking for something less intimidating, then maybe you should just pass on this one and perhaps look at Need For Speed: Shift or some other racing title. (Krakrabbit.com)


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