Death Race 2009

By now, you might’ve come upon one of our E3 09 “VS” features, where we pit upcoming high-profile titles of a similar nature against one another based on the demos experienced while stumbling punchdrunk across this year’s show floor:

E3 09: God of War III vs Bayonetta vs Dante's Inferno vs Darksiders
E3 09: Modern Warfare 2 vs Left 4 Dead 2 vs Halo 3: ODST 

And yeah, you probably hate our guts for it. Not solely for our irresponsibly subjective stance on unfinished games played for an unethical amount of time, otherwise completely unbecoming of professional Games Journalologists. No, you loathe us purely for getting to go to E3 in the first place… and rightly so! As the ultimate try-before-you-buy gaming buffet, it’s a damned tragedy that events like E3 don’t just tour the globe all year.

Above: By the end of this feature, you will know which game is which 

But it is work for us, so to provide you with further insight into when and where your gaming dollars are going, we’re headed back to VS Thunderdome with two of the most prolific racing games this fall: Forza Motorsport 3 and Need for Speed: SHIFT. We’d understand the double take. In years past no one would’ve bothered comparing NFS’s thugged out scrape through LA with the real-world tracks, cars and tuning found in Forza. However, this year, they’re actually quite similar and hitting stores around the same time.

Oh, and sincere apologies to DiRT 2! I heard great things, yet we somehow missed the kiosk amidst the bombastic, polygonal frenzy of E3 09’s return to form. 

Above: DiRT 2 gets an “A” for Attendance! 

Release date: October 27, 2009

10 Studios’ handsome sequel to 2007’s most able contender for Gran Turismo glory.


- 400 Cars from over 50 of the world’s leading manufacturers
- 100 Tracks
- Massive paint and tuning customization
- A “Rewind” button for those head-on mulligans
- Automatic Brake feature


The Forza franchise has to be commended for how damn well it bridged the gap between hyper-demanding gearheads and more casual racers who’d rather tool around a course than tune a transmission. The color-coded course guideline Forza 2 pioneered is probably the most intuitive, unobtrusively instructive feature ever provided by sim-minded racing game.


Following suit, Forza 3’s newest exercise in pain reduction is one of the most fantastic automotive additions in years! What’s the most off putting aspect of every hardcore racer? Messing up, and it’s no wonder a majority never bother completing straightforward sims. You know the drill: One minor error and you’re f***ed: Restart. Reload. Repeat for several hours…
No longer! The Back button is now the proud home of the Rewind feature. Whether you catch a tire on the grass or careen headlong into a wall, simply take yourself back to a moment when things weren’t so mangly. Rather than forcing us to relearn entire tracks, the player is invited to explore specific track elements and problematic areas as if your ride was piloted by Blinx the Cat. (Microsoft fanboys ‘til the end - LOL!)


But an Auto-Brake feature?! Controlling precise deceleration isn’t just crucial to any serious racing experience; it’s exactly what Forza 2 did better than the competition! Not only does this seem counterproductive, but who’s buying Forza 3 to basically play it on 50% autopilot? That’s like adding an automatic jump to a Mario game… Wait, Nintendo’s actually doing that? Damn you, casual gamers!


Without a doubt, Forza 2 is my favorite racer of the current console generation. The 360’s analog shoulder buttons are far more suitable for gas-and-break perfection, plus the inclusion of both visual and performance-based damage takes Forza a comfortable notch above Sony’s last-gen showcase of officially licensed car porn.

Above: Yeah, Forza’s got a video editor

Yet while Forza 2 offered the most robust racing experience just south of Gran Turismo, it couldn’t shake the onslaught of monotony that comes with driving through hundreds of events for hours on end. Forza 3 still idles along at a gorgeous 60 frames per second, but the track environments have been given a much more distinctive look and lavish cinematic scope that provides an instantly apparent enhancement to the boring ol’ grass-dirt-asphalt blues.

Best of all, this go round the digital engineers at Turn 10 have seen fit to tailor the 200 event, single-player calendar exclusively to your performance. Yes you, Jimmy! Progression will dynamically personalize itself to your preferred ride and race type, promising that “No two calendars are the same.”


Beautiful, authentic, and crammed to the rafters with modes and customization. It’s practically cowardly to predict that Forza 3 will simply astound. Yet… outside of the Rewind button, there’s wasn’t much new here enticing me to jump back in and reinvest myself for several 100 hours. I’m a fan of racing, not cars. So there wasn’t a whole helluva lot here to distinguish Forza 3 from its predecessor.


Perhaps I’m just being a grumpy gamer... because it’s important to remember that Forza 2 came equipped with an unsurpassed online community, featuring comprehensive stats, sharable custom screenshots, and car auctions, as well as oodles of brawny, reasonably priced DLC packs. So, it’s safe to assume we’ll also be getting all that and more.

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  • CAPST3R - June 24, 2009 2:44 p.m.

    an answer to my question would be nice, it wasn't rhetorical you know.
  • usmovers_02 - June 23, 2009 2:22 p.m.

    I've loved the NFS franchise (minus the last 2) and I've loved the Forza franchise. Unfortunatly for SHIFT it lacks too many of the features needed to compare to other true sims, mainly 400 cars and 100 tracks. I like to tune cars and I like to race them. Odds are, I WILL use and tune at least 50 or 60 of Forza 3's cars which is nearly the entire car count for SHIFT. reCAPTCHA: drought makes
  • Selectedpayload - June 22, 2009 6:53 p.m.

    They both look impressive but I'm going to get Forza 3. The paint options for that should be awesome. Also theres a huge part of me that thinks NFS will be aimed at the mainstream rather than more hardcore gamers.
  • abetterplayer - June 22, 2009 6:14 p.m.

    "outside of the Rewind button, there’s wasn’t much new here" eh you seem to have forgotten race driver: grids flashback button?
  • Mackster-901 - June 21, 2009 5:05 p.m.

    i love nfs but it started 2 go down hill wiv pro street. nfs is all about illegal street racing and 4 me underground 2 and most wanted were the best but wen they dun track days 4 pro street i woz pissed off but wen i herd that they had gon bak 2 illegal street racing in undercovers i woz so happy...until i got it. undercover woz so easy and borin and im not even goin 2 by shift coz its gettin 2 much like gran turismo and that is a worst racin game i ever played. EA, please do another game like underground or most wanted and make it like a proper boy racin style game and not wiv super cars. it should hav cars like supras,skylines,evos and stuff.
  • xFnKxTaLeNtx - June 20, 2009 8:52 p.m.

    To me both Forza and SHIFT look really simmilar, but i'm leaning NFS because of the in-car visual stuff. probably end up getting both eventually :P
  • Cerberus1838 - June 20, 2009 4 a.m.

    Lol its hilarious you actually compared SHIFT to Forza 3, Forza is in a different league, SHIFT is going to go down horribly. Also @ Chris, saying that only 10 people know how to use the cars in Forza is also ignorant, theres actually alot of people on Forza 2 (my brother for example) who own every car in the game and have the ability to tune the cars at anytime they want, the tuning system was extremely detailed which brought down people who didn't know anything about tuning, but apparently this issue has been fixed. tl:dr version, Forza 3 > Shift, fixed tuning makes Forza 3 perfect.
  • gigiosantos - June 19, 2009 10:19 p.m.

    PLEASE GOD MAKE BLACKBOX MAKE AN NFS HOT PURSUIT 3!!!!!!but SHIFT may make pressure on codemasters ,forcing them to make GRID 2 ,and about forza i only have an pc
  • MBspeedstr07 - June 19, 2009 5:02 p.m.

    try to convince me...
  • industriedude - June 19, 2009 4:32 p.m.

    okay everyone knows that Need for Speed needed to revamp they're approach to their games cos the whole cop chase thing was getting old fast but they should leave the sim racing games to the forza crew because no-one does it like them. wrong turn for Need for Speed, come up with a new style of racing games because were not impressed. Its like getting the monopoly guy to create a GTA game, its not what he's good at
  • just86 - June 19, 2009 1:28 p.m.

  • xXHaloKillerXx - June 19, 2009 1:27 p.m.

    I might get Forza 3 never played the first 2 but its just racing so i dont need them anyway just like i skipped Gt 1 and got 2 and skipped Gt3 and got 4 lol.
  • rxb - June 19, 2009 12:27 p.m.

    Shift has a certain violence to it but it could get distracting. I love the way Forza 2 feels, you can feel grip between the tyres and the road. Its easy to know where 'the limit' is. Also the way Forza 2 handles Aero grip at high speed is the best Ive ever driven. You dont need to be poor to just buy 1 game but to get good you need to focus on just 1 game really.
  • idrinkyourmilkshake - June 19, 2009 12:04 p.m.

    Another Antista masterpiece!
  • MechGyver - June 19, 2009 10:54 a.m.

    Its a case to say that SHIFT is "Burning like Gasoline" eh eh......kinda funny if you think about it....anyone?.....
  • smallberry - June 19, 2009 4:46 a.m.

    Forza 3 is finally getting me interested in a driving sim other than GT5. Too bad I bet on the other horse and only own a PS3. SHIFT? No thanks. -First game to “True Driver’s Experience” So there is a minigame where you must successfully pee in your diaper during a 24 LeMans race while driving?
  • TURbo - June 19, 2009 3:39 a.m.

    The Need For Speed series does a lot of add one feature here and get rid of another feature there. It is nice that you can have a driver's view, since Underground you could only see the outside. Need For Speed Carbon, Pro Street, and Undercover have been disappointing, but this does look really cool.
  • TheMonarch - June 19, 2009 3:01 a.m.

    For me I'm looking forward to Forza. One thing Chris didn't mention was the video editor. @$$hole : D I could totally see making a sweet video of rollevers when I eventually push my car way beyond it's limits.
  • iluvmyDS - June 19, 2009 1:41 a.m.

    I've always batted an eye at Forza, as far as the customization. I blow at car sims though.
  • MechGyver - June 19, 2009 1:18 a.m.

    Need For Speed But seriosly where´s the hot model/actress for this game? I´ve only seen cars and tracks till now, this ought to be a bad sign for NFS