Forza 3 is a game of community. It is odd that that it has taken this long for something to (partially) capitalize on Microsoft’s infamous E3 2005 Jay Allard-delivered “Velocity Girl” speech where Microsoft stated gamers could create objects and sell them at an online marketplace.
That never materialized on Xbox Live, or at least in the sense of the full vision. Forza 3 at least takes a portion, allowing users to create car skins, logos, tuning sets, and more to sell on their own storefront. Forza players can be an enormously talented group, and the storefront also serves as an advertisement, letting users showcase their own unique pieces without selling them to remain individuals.
“Sell” is a relative term though as no actual money changes hands, just in-game credits. That is where the Velocity Girl comparison begins to collapse. Regardless, Turn 10 has found a way for a group to come together for a purpose beyond competition (which it also does well), while adding a reason to return, search, and admire.
Much of Forza 3 is personalized, even beyond the tuning, colors, skins, and logos. The experience will be different for each player, allowing for a vastly varied set of difficulty options. Forza is a fantastic arcade racer if you want it to be, even if it betrays the original design concept. Taking tight curves is just as satisfying to a casual player as it is to a pro.
That original concept is of course intricate simulation, with accurate, devastating damage and wickedly difficult corners. Tapping the d-pad to turn on telemetry during a race brings up a series of HUDs that show how much the program is dealing with, in addition to the stunningly rendered tracks and cars utilizing the hardware to generate millions of textured polygons. Individual tires are measured in multiple ways, from pressure, inertia, and temperature, all on the fly. That does not even touch the other factors that go into what looks like a typical corner.
Forza 3 is a marvel, forced onto two discs due to its variance in courses and remarkable car selection (a hard drive should be a requirement). Tracks are placed across the globe in various configurations, each carrying their own character. The open deserts feel as such, with typically wide roads. The claustrophobia of New York offers no perfect straights and incredibly dense streets, perfect for those who like to bash in the fenders of their opponents.
Forza 3 carries a decent, if slightly repetitive career mode centered around increasingly long seasons. The focus here is on rewards. Earning experience unlocks a consistent stream of bonuses, from discounts on parts to entire vehicles. Manufacturers love giving out vehicles to skilled drivers, meaning trips back the clean, streamlined menus to purchase new vehicles will be infrequent unless you are a rich (in-game) hoarder of cars.
If anything comes out of Forza 3, it should be what casual gaming is capable of beyond mini-game compilations and simple puzzle games. Here is a game you don’t even need to play to enjoy. Artists can pick up the game’s design tools and craft articulate, detailed digital masterpieces, and know the satisfaction of the community spending their in-game currency to download them.
Just that segment of Forza 3 is a game, where the challenge is to design the art, and the rewards come from buyers. Top that off with a racing game capable of catering to an audience of car enthusiasts and casual observers who just want an easy ticket to the finish line, you come away with a video game that is breathtaking in its depth and its ability to entertain.
Forza Motorsport 3 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.