There’s little doubt that Forza 3 is a FUCKING AMAZING sequel. Loosening up the physics and granting the real-world phenomenon of drifting a bit more leeway certainly makes up 90% of this fucking amazingness, although I haven’t quite decided where the other 10% comes in. It’s certainly not for the godawful menus, which where presumably usability-tested by a FUCKING IDIOT who thinks navigating backwards and forwards between six menus is the way to change your car prior to entering an event - that is, of course, unless you’re lucky enough to NOT be in the right car, in which case you can change with great expedience. That extra 10% certainly isn’t for the car collection either. Despite some delightful additions, it’s largely EXACTLY THE SAME as Forza 2 and still doesn’t have a De Tomasao Pantera, a host of retro Le Mans beauties or a convincing model of a Ferrari 250 GTO. It does have an alarmingly wide selection of hatchbacks and saloons, so thank god for its preservation of the central meta-mechanic of all great racing games with too many boring cars; that upgrading to GENUINELY STUPID performance levels allows just about any car in the game to reach the lofty status of S class or above.
I guess the 10% is actually for the new courses, as the rest tends to be flatly predictable or bizzarely hamstrung. Take the vinyl group creator – it seems to be BEREFT of zooming options, so you have to work with the space you’re given and scale your decal groups instead. Bizarre. What’s more, there doesn’t seem to be a snap-to for the grid, so placing squares neatly in the grid is a painful affair of over-eager analogue flicks combined with squinting d-pad presses for the final fit. Of course, I could be missing shortcuts here as I am playing on an 18-inch portable. Naturally, some kind of rasterising JPG importing would be FUCKING AMAZING, but seeing as painstakingly stitching together the stock shapes into mindfucking artwork is now the de facto method of making anything pretty in Forza, we can forget such easiness. Let’s just hope that Forza 4 lets you use Natal to draw actual cocks and vaginas directly onto car bonnets – DURING A FUCKING RACE. But no, we have to use the standard torturous procedure, meaning my aspirations to commit HARDCORE BOMBER THROW-UPS AND FRESH STYLE PIECES to digital car bodywork will end in about 16 white circles and four black rectangles.
It’s easy to bitch about Forza’s peripheral aspects because clearly, the game has been created by people with a near-maniacal and borderline autistic urge to be THE BEST AT DRIVING, so they don’t care about anything else than in-race shit. I guess the only reason they added the grid views for event and car selection (but not default for car selection, you dicks) was the mathematical beauty of them on the screen. But hey – let’s not be total cunts and be happy that those american spacks gave the racing bit all the jizz and fury they could muster. In opening up its driving model for the sake of fun, Forza 3 represents a stunning blow to PGR’s legacy, becoming THE choice of any true performance car connoisseur who wants thrills first and drysim second, something evidenced with tour-de-force grandeur when blasting along the Nordschlieffe in a spastically-powerful car like the Porsche 956.
This lightening of mood and splash of indulgence is almost magical, elevating Forza 3 into some new tier of godliness, leaving its predecessor feeling more like scalectrix with sideways, only with no flying into the air at the hairpin. This is because now, you can actually fly into the air at the hairpin, should you choose to fuck up enough at the right speed. It’s a shame the game doesn’t overtly score your greatness my measuring barrel-rolls or keeping the line along the rules of PGR and Burnout, but then the team are MANIACS about being THE BEST, so instead it only tells you when you’ve been FUCKING SHIT and had the audacity to be in the way of the AI when it wants to accelerate without noticing you’re legitimately in the way (though to be fair, this often happens when I deliberately fly off the course, take a shortcut and arrive back on the racing line with a flawless application of driving control).
One area where Forza will never beat PGR is in its taste in automotive exotica. As mentioned previously, if you like the mundane (or the mundane with mods and funny clothes), then you’ll be over the fucking moon. However, if you’re hoping to take a Gumpert Apollo, Zonda R, Maclaren F1 (not GT), the Caparo F1 or any flavour of Radical, Noble, Morgan, Caterham or Ascari up a Japanese mountainside in this gorgeous driving engine, then you can fuck right off. Instead, why not drive a Seat Leon?
We can only hope some of the more exquisite beasts come as DLC but if there’s one maxim about the current generation it’s this: never be happy with a game where you’re actually wishing for DLC to fill out the gaps rather than ice the cake.
On the whole this game is great if you like this sort of thing, even though it’s actually SERIOUSLY FUCKING AMAZING and as such, draws a big line in the sand for GT5 and all that follow to step over. I tell you one thing though – Blur ain’t going to do SHIT to this motherfucker and GT5 had better have that fucking track editor.