There are few games out there as fun to play and as utterly frustrating as the Forza Motorsport games. With the serious amount of customization you could get lost in painting, designing, upgrading and tuning all of the various aspects of your car for hours. But unless you're a huge fan of this sort of thing then you will likely have no idea what any of this stuff means and having any meaningful interaction with it is virtually impossible. With enough time though many of these things can become almost second nature to you but it requires a serious investment.
However as time has gone on these games have gotten more and more accessible to us commoners, culminating in Forza 3. It's not that the game is really any easier than it even was before but there are many options now to make gamers lives less frustrating. The games only require as much of a time investment as you are willing to make.
On the surface Forza games are just like every other racing title. You hop into one of your many real cars and drive around a track until you cross the finish line for the last time. There are seven other cars between you and first place so you'll find yourself having to dodge and weave around the track while also trying to deal with the tricky turns of the tracks themselves. Alliteration is fun.
What sets this title apart from many of the other racing games is that this one is simultaneously more and less forgiving than other racers. Manage to get a huge lead on your opponents? Then the game actually respects that, not having the ridiculous rubber band A.I. that games like Burnout thrive on. Start bumping into an opponent as you try to overtake them and they may actually panic, taking turns much less rigidly than usual. As a matter of fact it's possible to cause huge crashes in this game if you're careful by causing an enemy car to spin out so badly it flips, causing a pile up of proportions unheard of in a game like this.
Anyone familiar with the Forza games will likely be familiar with the special "Assists" you can turn on and off. Based upon what difficulty you choose there will be certain assists that are automatically turned on but you can customize this as you choose. Things like anti-lock breaks, guides to help you learn how to corner properly and even how skilled the A.I. drivers are can be used, or not, at your leisure and the main change is how much money is received from the race. So it's very possible to set the game to the hardest difficulty and then turn on some of the Assists, sacrificing some money for a slightly easier race.
Most notable of these is the newly added Rewind feature. Using this you can press the Back Button on the controller, rewinding time to a set point. This is almost always before you went off the track, bumped into another car or flipped your car. This really helps to take the edge off of a really long race. No longer will the computer nudge you into a spin out that causes you to lose an hour long race. This is a huge boon for those who don't wish to be frustrated by this aspect of racing games but it also doesn't have to be used by those racing purists out there. The only nuisance about this system is that there appears to be no way to shut off the notifications about when it should be used.
The look of Forza is absolutely top notch. All of the cars look fantastic while driving and the backgrounds all look just shy of photo realistic. Vehicle damage is very convincing making it somewhat painful to watch a car you spent an hour painting and decorating have the paint shredded off by another car scraping against you. The one main complaint with the graphics in this game is that of the camera. None of the camera positions are entirely comfortable thanks to how they're angled. Some are too close to the bumper of the car, not giving enough of a view in front of the car, while the inside of the car view is a bit too close to the steering wheel. As such it's kind of an adjustment trying to get used to the camera but it's manageable over time.
It takes time to adjust to the almost silence that you're driving in, with only the sounds of the car motors to break up the silence. While it takes awhile to even notice there is actually a pretty good soundtrack to this game consisting of a number of rock songs. None of these are anything that I've ever heard of before but they're very enjoyable nonetheless.
One of the more startling features of Forza 3 is the fact that there are two disks inside of the case. Your first disk is the play disk you would use to install the game on your hard drive or simply use it to play the title. The real kicker is the second disk, that of the installation disk, which contains yet more Forza! Putting this into your Xbox allows you to install another 100 cars and several more race tracks, adding up to almost 2.0 gb of data to the game.
One slightly disappointing feature of the game is the storefront and auction house. Using the store you can trade or sell your own personal designs while the auction house is where you can buy cars from other players as well as selling your own. These actually work great and are quite a bit of fun, knowing your money is going to another player instead of just disappearing. But these are only really available to those who have an Xbox Live Gold account. While this won't affect those who have Gold accounts, since there are lots of gamers out there, it really bites for Silver members. There's a whole aspect of the game they can't even touch, not even getting into the online races.
While many of the features that Forza Motorsport 3 brings to bear are nothing new to the racing genre they all come together in a fantastic package. The game may tend to drag on just a little bit thanks to those huge races and time consuming achievements but at no point does it ever become a bad title. This is one of the best racing games released on any console to date and is a must have for any Xbox owners who are looking for a new racing game.