Quo vadis, Forza Motorsport 3?

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How much you enjoy Forza Motorsport 3 entirely depends on the time you have to invest in it. If you’re able to put in the man-hours you’ll find a racing sim that’s a deep as you want it to be, and just as rewarding. If you’re only able to play a few minutes here and there, well, it’s not really the same thing.

The game presents itself as a driving simulator, but one that won’t punish you for not knowing the difference between a carburetor and a CD changer. And, incidentally, you’ll be changing the game disc as soon as you turn it on, for the game’s developer’s, Turn 10, couldn’t fit it all on just one; an optional content install prompts as soon as the game loads. You’ll need approximately 2GB of free space on your hard drive to get the entire FM3 experience.

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From there a cheery British announcer guides you through the game—it’s as if you’re playing Top Gear. The standard modes are there, but it’s career mode that shows the game in its best light. You’re granted a low-level car—something that you yourself may well own in real life—then race from event to event, earning credits and plaudits from other car manufacturers along the way. The credits are used to buy upgrades, while after the occasional successful race you’ll get a message along the lines of: “Fiat thinks you’re a good driver, so they’re giving you this brand new car for free!”

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Lather, rinse, repeat. You’ll go from Class Z clunker to Class A holy-cow-this-is-fast as you plug along in career mode, which will take some time. Better skip out on Heroes this week if you want to make the most of this game.

The game looks good, yes, but I’m hesitant to call it the best-looking racing game I’ve ever played: that title belongs to Racer Driver: Grid. (Note: I never bought Dirt 2 because rally racing doesn’t appeal to me.) I don’t know, things just look too shiny to me. The best way I can describe it is, remember the first few FIFA games for the PS3/360, and how “shiny” the player models looked? I get the same feeling here.

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Not that we’re graphics whores ’round these parts, but I’d be remiss to not mention how the game looks.

To make another comparison to Race Driver: Grid, I do feel that the menus in the game, and just the way the game is presented, is less interesting than Codemasters’ hit. In Grid, menus fly by and spin in circles, you can see people walking about your garage while selecting a new paint scheme, your earned credits fill up in dramatic fashion, slowing down as you approach an upgrade point… It just seems more “next-gen,” more “hmm, now this is different” than FM3, which is very much “well, this isn’t anything special.”

So is the game good? Yes, of course; I dare you not to enjoy it. You will, however, have a much better time if you can sit there for several hours rather than treating it as a quick “hey let me kill 10 minutes” fix.

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That’s it.

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