Apples ‘n’ Oranges: Forza 3

January 9, 2010

Gamerscore after “Year 6”: 855/1000

Game it is most like for Round 1: Forza 2

Forza 3 is a sim-style racer that improves on the graphical presentation of it’s predecessor and steals the calendar as career format from games like PGR 4 and the flashback feature from GRiD. That’s all you really have to know. But, I must elaborate. Notes for the typical review categories will only cover those things that cannot be placed in one of the Apples ‘n’ Oranges categories.

The Good

  • Gameplay: The flashback feature is well done.
  • Presentation: The visuals did get a nice update. The Ferris Wheel at Suzuka moves this time.
  • Interface: The calendar system is a nice touch, in general. The game makes 3 suggestions for weekday events (one of which can be changed by switching cars), and at least one of them usually fit my mood. The weekend events are set in stone, and you will repeat the R1 Championship Series ad nauseum Year 7 and onward.
  • Interface: The event list system is a streamlined version of the old menu interface. At a glance, you can see which events you have unlocked, completed, and have a car for.
  • Morality: The game still teaches that bad driving equals smoking wreaks.
  • Car Quantity: 400 or so on the disc, plus some freebies in DLC land.
  • Car Modification (Visual): The new blank canvas feature allows for relatively easy creation of complex decals and figures. The only complaint I have is that the created figure does not count as one layer.
  • Unique Race Types: I enjoyed the new event types Super Lap (1 giant lap)and Speedway (oval races). They are a nice change of pace from the traditional track races Forza normally has.
  • Achievements: No “Collect every car from a country” achievements!

The Bad

  • Gameplay: They tied one’s starting place on one’s level a little too tightly this time around. You might have the best car in the race, but the game will shove you in the last spot when you start. This might be more “realistic”, but it really is more annoying than anything else. The one race I lost was because I could not overtake the lead car when I was in last place with a car that would have placed me in the middle of the pack if the game used the Forza 2 starting system.
  • Presentation: The quality of the background music has decreased steadily since the first one. I miss the Junkie XL instrumental stuff in the background of a race. If the generic EA Trax-esque soundtrack played only during the menu screens, it would be tolerable, but they decided to bring back music in game. I think that was a poor move. It got to the point where I was listening to something else and had the sound to my TV turned down so that I could only hear the engine noises.
  • Interface: The in-race HUB is almost unusable. I know they wanted to match the spiffy new visuals in the menus by having the data point graphics be semi-opaque, but I could not read my times unless a dark patch was in the top corner of the screen. The gas tank levels, lap time deltas, and car ahead/behind data suffered similarly.
  • Interface: The “you screwed up” (id est, hit a car, slide off the track) indicators bear a special mention because it is downright broken. Gone is the old “add penalty time in bright red to one’s lap time” indicator, which, while a little annoying, made it blatantly obvious where you are screwing up. The new “triangle” indicator is ridiculously hard to see while you “making the mistake”. I put that in quotes because I lost track of how many times it would flair up while I was not doing anything wrong. It was especially annoying considering that, once you have completed a lap without the triangle showing up, the game would no longer use a triangle lap as the best lap in the box, which using that lap’s time as the best time in the lap time delta indicators. That is a major screw-up.
  • D’s of Doom: Forza 3 has 1.5 D’s, as opposed to Forza 2’s 0 D’s. To be fair, you can get past Year 6 (the end of all new calendar events) without ever participating in a drag event (like I did) and drift is more of a side activity (it has no off-line events). While drifting still uses the normal physics, the drift calculation system is incredibly infuriating. For it to count, the angle of your car has to stay betwixt 45 to 90 from the road, you cannot stop or veer off the road in any way. I earned the one-time drift achievement (1 K points in one turn) purely on accident and, after 5 solid attempts, gave up on the lap version (100K points in one lap).
  • Currency: They took out the rarity scores of old, so money (credits) is earned based on final place, damage, and difficulty settings only. Similarly, all the cars are unlocked from the beginning and you earn a car every level instead of finishing first in every race in an event. Needless to say, it is annoying to drop money on cars just to be given one for free later, especially since it seems one can only sell a car back for 100 credits.

The Meh

  • Gameplay: The actual racing has not changed from the previous iteration in any noticeable way. That is not a bad thing, but it may not have the same appeal the first time around.
  • Gameplay: They took out the “pick a region” aspect of the previous games. On the one hand, no more worries about cars being locked out when you are not in their home region. On the other hand, no more discounts on cars.
  • Replay: Replay suffers because of the sheer number of events and how they are paced. I have more or less put the game up and I have not finished it. Sure, I will play it a couple of hours a week until I finally get the 100% event first place achievement, but the spark to play it non-stop has been quashed by the game’s flaws.
  • Car Quality: It’s the same mixed bag as in the previous 2 Forzas. They added a F and E class while getting rid of the R4 class, which helps make a higher percentage of the cars useful in at least 1 race without mods, but I probably did not use 10% of the cars I had access to to get to this point.
  • Car Modification (Performance): The quick upgrade system seems of little value. The times I had to upgrade, I went though the menus the old-fashioned way.
  • Unique Race Types: They brought back the point-to-point races from Forza 1, but implemented them in a weird fashion. Instead of the normal 1 8-car race, you have 3 heats of 1 vs. 1 races for each track in the event. Needless to say, it’s time consuming with little payoff.
  • Achievements: 940 of 1000 points are offline. Most of the achievements are earned by getting to level 50, which is the wrong way to do it. They have 1 80 point achievement for beating all 220 events, but no real rewards for continuing on after completing Year 6 to finish the 100 or so events you still have to do to get there.

Totals time:

Gameplay: 4.5/5

Presentation: 4.5/5

Interface: 3/5

Replay: 4/5

Morality: 6/5

Average: 4/5

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.


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