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Forza Motorsport 3: Its prettier, but is it better?

February 26, 2010

I’m not normally one for getting games soon after they come out, my general preference is to wait until they have been out for a while and get them when the price drops. However, for Forza Motorsport 3 I made an exception and requested it for a Christmas present, since several of my friends were also getting it and since we had all been playing Forza Motorsport 2 on XBOX Live, it made sense for us to upgrade en mass.

First impressions on playing the game were good. Most notably, the vastly improved graphics; detail is much better and colour is brighter and sharper. Some tracks even show a bit of sun glare, something that was missing from Forza Motorsport 2.

Other improvements have been made in the tuning section, where you can now perform engine and drivetrain swaps. This adds a much more enjoyable dynamic to car tuning and has produce some very amusing results. Adding a fully tuned Skyline engine to a Datsun 510 currently ranks as my favourite.

Racing…

But whats it like to play? New race types are added so it’s not just circuit racing, there is now point to point racing in heats against one opponent at a time, which I really like, and there is drag racing, which I don’t like and don’t see the point of. The drift points concept is utterly inspired, I like it very much and its added a whole new dimension to getting round tracks.

New tracks are a great addition. The Amalfi Coast adds a very twisty circuit with part cobbled surface. This makes blasting about in high power cars difficult and challenging, even frustrating; but much try it in a low power car and the fun is almost never-ending. The Fujimi Kaido mountain circuit is also brilliantly challenging and is probably my favourite track in the game.

Gone is the much maligned King Cobra circuit. I am mixed about this, yes it was staggeringly difficult in some cars; but isn’t that the point? Games should challenge as well as entertain, whats the point of a game if its easy to breeze through? Which leads me nicely on to my next point…

Too Easy…

Compared to Forza Motorsport 2, I have found the game play easier and as a result the satisfaction is reduced. I get the feeling that the focus of Forza Motorsport 3 was on satisfying those who found Forza Motorsport 2 too much of a challenge. You no longer get a choice of driver when choosing to hire a driver, you just get a driver, this makes sense as why would you want to hire a driver who was not going to win?

The instant rewind feature is probably the most contentious addition. It’s very much a love / hate thing. I have found it very useful for getting to learn the best way to do a sequence of corners and I am sure when it comes to doing the 100,000 drift points achievement it will be very useful; however, it does now make winning races so much easier as there is now no longer the issue of having to restart the race again when you have that big crash in the final laps.

The cars feel more planted. Not much I can add to that really, the cars really do feel easier to drive, you can throw them about a bit more, carry more speed round corners and they tend not to get thrown into the sides quite so easily.

I have even noticed that when on normal difficulty an opponents car that is identical to the players car accelerates slower. This may be acceptable for easy difficulty, but not on normal difficulty.

The achievements…

The achievements are the source of my greatest frustration with Forza Motorsport 3 and the main reason why I think the game has been toned down to make it easier for players to get all the achievements. Just compare the list of achievements with those on Forza Motorsport 2; gone are Flawless Lap, Flawless Race, Hardcore, Underdog, Crushing Victory, Hard Charger and Natural to be replaced with simple ranking achievements.

Getting an achievement for each of the driver ranks 1-10 is not just pointless, its insulting; then after that you get an achievement every 5 ranking points after that. Then there is another achievement for each of the car ranks 1-5 and another for each of the season play years 1-6. The result is that a week after getting the game I had half of 50 achievements nailed without even trying.

Ranking is also much easier. In Forza Motorsport 2 rank 50 comes when most of the game has been completed. In Forza Motorsport 3, if you start in season play, rank 50 is achieved before the end of season 6, which is not even halfway through the game. This is playing on normal opponent difficulty and all drivers aids turned off except ABS.

Alternative Achievements…

With the above in mind, I have come up with a list of alternative achievements which would improve the enjoyment of playing the game.

First of all, ditch the myriad ranking achievements and replace with just 5, one for each of the ranks 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50. Then add…

  • Win a race in each of the view modes (not just the in-car view)
  • Compete in a race with a car from each manufacturer
  • Lap all opponents and win the race
  • Win a race with more than 60 seconds gap to the next placed opponent
  • Score 10,000 drift points in a single lap of a race and still win
  • Win a race having scored 30,000 drift points during the race
  • Do a flawless lap in each of the race locations
  • Get 20 cars to level 5
  • Win a race without using rewind
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