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.
PRESS RELEASE PROMISES
- 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.