Saturday, October 31, 2009

Forza Motorsport 3 First Impressions

I recently got Forza Motorsport 3 for the Xbox 360. As it is a racing game, I am completely hooked and will be for some hours to come, so you might well say my impressions are highly positive. However, while the game makes a few significant improvements over Forza 2, the game is far from perfect.

The biggest improvement is probably the calendar. While they seem to have misunderstood some of the things I was talking about when I said I wanted a calendar, it solves one of the massive problems with Forza 2: the whole single player feeling like a giant grind. Because of the calendar format, the game accepts failure and encourages you to keep going on regardless. No longer are you stuck on the same races to try and unlock some other ones, it doesn't matter how well you do, the game will give you more races in different cars and different tracks.

The other really big improvement is the track variation. There is a huge variety in the tracks, from windy villages set in stunning vistas to high speed circular race rings and everything in between. There are even point to point tracks up steep mountains. This is a huge step up from Forza 2 where the track set felt very restricted: either go in a dull looking track, or a dull-to-drive track.

The visual improvements are noticeable on the cars and on the tracks, but there are still a few areas that really grate the eye, such as the audience. However, the biggest problem is the loading screens. Is that really the price I have to pay for the amazing looking tracks, and isn't there some sort of compromise?

The multiplayer also feels a bit like two steps forward one step back. It is considerably easier to get in to a decent and competitive game. However, they seem to have stripped some of the features that made the multiplayer in Forza 2 so compelling such as tournaments and pink slip racing (where you bet a car on the outcome of the race).

There are numerous other gripes I could make such as the lack of dynamic weather, the misleading number of tracks (most of them are just sections of other tracks), the rewind feature - which I plan to write more about soon, still not being able to do split screen online and a poor music set list. However, it is a fantastic racing game simply because the people at Turn 10 have got the racing feel down to an absolute tee. Even with the rewind, races are incredibly tense experiences where you really feel like the slightest mistake could send you spinning.

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