Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Fulfill your *need* for speed with Forza 3
FOR: The Xbox 360
Developed by: Turn 10
Published by: Microsoft
OK, I'll admit it. I like to drive FAST. I like to rip the e-brake, cut the steering wheel and push a lot of Detroit muscle sideways. I love listening to tires squeal like Ned Beatty, enjoy swapping paint, I like to drive aggressively. No, folks, I don't drive like this on the Katy Freeway, well, not most of the time, but I can fulfill my "need for speed" with the hottest new racer on the Xbox 360, Forza 3.
First, let me say this -- this is a family-friendly game. It's rated E for Everyone and offers players the chance to race on their own terms. You love the Doppler effect. You dream of drifting. However, you are middle-age and wouldn't dare think of engaging in such a reckless venture. Or, you are young enough to think the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana rock. That's fine for this game. Anyone can pick it up, race some and find themselves comfortable behind the wheel of Ferraris, Bentleys, even an R-34 Skyline. The developers at Turn 10 wanted to make a game where "everyone can have fun behind the wheel."
If you dream of throttling machines that cost more than a downtown condo, and you own a 360 (sorry PC gamers), you need to take this racer for a spin. There are several modes to play, from free play to career and multiplayer, online and local (with another player). From the start of the game, there are more than 400 cars and 100 tracks for players to take for a spin.
The gameplay adapts to your level. There's a very cool feature that allows gamers to "rewind" a botched piece of driving. Let's say you are rubbing a racer in front of you. Without warning, you spin out of control. By hitting the back button, you can go back a few seconds -- and avoid the incident. I do wonder why the AI drivers don't use the feature.
The game's AI is also adjustable. Tired of blowing the doors off of your opponents? Crank up the difficulty some and see how intense racing will be. On the lower levels, the AI cars make the race more lively. They react to someone riding their bumper.
Arguably, though, one of the appealing aspects of the game is the graphics. Wow. The game is so slick that you may find yourself slamming into a wall here or there because you were distracted by the breath-taking scenery. The car models look awesome and the interior view makes you feel like you are in the car. Some of the tracks are similar to Forza 2, have been redone and look fabulous. I was playing this game on my 42" LCD (upscaled to 1080p) and was just in awe.
And enjoy watching your $500K-plus baby swap paint and ride around damage. Visually, the damage is unreal.
Online, the game shines. While I didn't get many chances to play against a slew of racers (only a select few got to play the game LEGALLY before release), I was able to find a match very, very quickly. My most memorable match was a race between a gent in a souped-up Corvette and me in a Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Needless to say, he wiped the floor with me.
Care to customize your ride? You can paint your racer, apply decals, sell your decals in your online storefront ... tune your ride with an insane amount of equipment, rims, user-generated content and the like. Tired of one of your whips? Sell it in an online auction (and earn an achievement, too).
However, with victory lane in sight, the game sputters some.
The lighting is frustrating at times. The shadows look great, but you'll find yourself squinting way too much at the screen. I think that minor detail was overlooked by Turn 10. The game doesn't let you use your custom soundtracks in the game either. Bummer. Rollin' around the tracks, playing Saliva, Ludi or even Keith Sweat, blazing at 180 is the only way to roll.
Another thing that was driving me nuts? The sheer amount of advertisement in the game. Every turn seems to feature the Xbox 360, Forza, Turn 10, Hyundai Genesis Coupe and the list goes on. Realism is cool, but being beat over the head with ads is not.
Regardless, the game is a solid racer.
The verdict? 9.5 (out of 10). The last driving game I gave a score that high to was Test Drive Unlimited. Even though this is not an open-sandbox driving game, it still brings a fresh coat of paint to a genre filled with clunkers (cough, Need for Speed, cough). However, be warned, racers, Gran Turismo 5 for the PS3 is coming soon. That's when the real competition begins.