previews\ Jun 3, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Forza Motorsport 3 - 360 - Preview

E3 2009 PreviewE3 2008 GameZone Previews

For a number of years, Gran Turismo held the crown for the best simulation racing series. More recently, Forza Motorsport has taken that crown with a racing game that wanted to be realistic in every respect. Now the two are going to fight it out in the fifth Gran Turismo and the third Forza. It's unknown how prepared GT5 will be for this battle, but it was clear at E3 that Forza does not want to lose the title it worked so hard to achieve.

When it comes to game design, one of the things the developers wanted to stress was that Forza 3’s gameplay is based on real-world physics. That can be said about every part of the game – including the way the cars crash (even when they’re spinning out and you essentially lose control of them). The vehicles have a tough, almost dense feel to them, a design that is particularly standout when you crash so violently that your car rolls over. The scratched paint and dented/crumpled body effects are top-notch. And the car models, of which there are over 400, have been designed with individually rendered interiors to keep the look and feel of each automobile as realistic as possible.

Forza Motorsport 3 Xbox 360 screenshots

Among new features, Forza 3 features the life-saving rewind button and the gameplay-simplifying auto-brake. Rewind is exactly as it sounds: if you crash or do anything at all that you really didn’t like, press the back button and the game will literally rewind itself a few seconds. After the rewind is up, the game pauses, allowing you to race on from that point – or continue rewinding. Right now, you can rewind as much as you want. But the developers have not decided how far they’re going to take this move in the final version. Considering that GRID already offers a feature just like this, it’ll be interesting to see what the developers decide.

Auto-braking isn’t an option most existing Forza players will utilize. But that’s not who it was designed for. Hoping to reach a wider audience, the developers included this feature to allow newcomers to jump in and start playing without any simulation racing game experience. It works just as well as you’d expect – upon approaching a sharp turn, the game automatically reduces your vehicle’s speed, making the turn much more manageable than if you had to brake yourself.

Forza Motorsport 3 Xbox 360 screenshots

The vehicle lineup is amazing, to say the least, and includes models like the Audi R8 V10, Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, Aston Martin DBS, Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, and the classic 1968 Mustang GT 500. As you select a vehicle, the menu is noticeably clean. The game uses a lot of white space, providing only the details you need most – car images and a few statistics – while leaving the rest behind. This style was inspired by the simplicity of car manuals, which tend to be less gaudy than the average video game.

You’ll be able to race these cars and every other ride in the game across more than a 100 tracks, many of which are based on real-world locations. Regardless of their status, if the demo courses are representative of how the final game will look, this will be one of the most stunning, eyes-out-of-your-socket racing games of the year. Body damage is being taken even further than before, allowing you to see the flaws more clearly than ever before. Every part of every vehicle is beautiful, no question. But those background designs might get the most attention. They’re so realistic, you’ll wish you could plop them into other games and explore them on foot.

Racing into stores on October 9, Forza Motorsport 3 is turning into one very exciting game.


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