Outside of the Season mode there's the expected quick race and time trial modes, complete with leaderboards, viewable replays and downloadable ghost data so you can see where the best players are shaving vital milliseconds off of their lap times. Even if the career mode isn't keeping your attention, which is unlikely, you could spend a lifetime competing for the top times on the leaderboards. Community has been one of Turn 10's focuses, and it's paid off. It's hard to say for sure how Forza profiles, an auction house for cars and designs, and user rated pictures and replays will be taken to by Forza players, but the tools are there for gamers to spend an awful lot of time away from the driving seat.
Customisation and the lengths people would go to in order to create unique car designs surprised a lot of people in Forza 2, and there's every chance that this time the community will make bigger and better things. I couldn't even write my name on the side of a car without it looking like a child's crayon scrawling, but that doesn't really matter. I can interact with other users who are talented in that area (able to paint hugely elaborate designs onto vehicles that are real works of art) and use my hard-earned credits for a unique design of my own. Brand new is the video editing suite, allowing users to create their own masterpieces and share them with the world. It won't be for everyone, but the option is there if you want it.
Of course, on top of the leaderboards, store and community features there's a competitive eight-player online multiplayer mode. You can choose between circuit, oval, drag (straight races where gear changes are crucial), road racing and drift (earn points by drifting through corners), as well as more party-like modes including PGR classic Cat and Mouse, Tag and Elimination. There are a ton of tweakable options so you can set races up exactly as you want, with whatever restrictions you prefer, be it on car class, upgrades or racing assists. I should point out that extensive testing of the online performance hasn't been possible, but the races I've taken part in have all been lag free and great fun.
It almost seems like a forgotten part of the game, considering the core racing is so great, but Forza 3 looks brilliant. Sure, some of the circuits are a bit bland, but the more creative tracks are full of stunning scenery and beautiful sweeping corners. It all runs at a rock solid, silky smooth 60 frames per second too, giving the game an edge over many of its competitors. There's a little aliasing, which gives the game a rough look, but it's minor and will only be off-putting to the most anal graphics snobs. Visual car damage might also be an issue for some, with the damage model used here nowhere near as dynamic as that found in the likes of Burnout Paradise or DIRT 2, but combined with the realistic physics it's good enough to create some highly realistic looking crashes.
If I'm being picky load times could be better, but assuming you've installed both game discs (1.9GB of data on disc 2 contains extra cars and tracks - can be split into 4 chunks if you don't have enough space but you need a hard drive) to your hard drive the waiting is far from unbearable. Audio work throughout is excellent, though, with on-track sound effects putting you right into the action, while in-menu voice over work does its job superbly. The included soundtrack (indie, electro, drum and bass, and heavy rock) fits with the game's sleek style, but if it's not your thing there's always custom soundtrack support.
Forza 3 doesn't do anything that's never been done before, but everything it does do has been executed to such a high standard that it's hard to find faults - and even those are minor in the grand scheme of things. Never before has there been such a content-packed racing game, playable for people of all skill levels, that feels this good. That's the key. On the track, no matter what car you're in, it feels right. You're not wondering if the controls are too twitchy or if you should tweak some options in the menu. You're 100 per cent focused on nailing every corner, out-breaking an opponent and taking him on the inside and just having a good time. Turn 10 has created a sim racer that goes far beyond the genre's usual hardcore boundaries. It's made a racing game to be enjoyed by just about anyone.
VideoGamer.com Score10 Score out of 10
- Looks superb
- Community features are excellent
- Handling feels great
- Highly customisable