Forza Motorsport 3 review

  • Enough customization to play any way you want
  • A bajillion cars and tracks
  • An unsurpassed online community
  • Loooooooong-ass load times
  • Imprecise rewinds
  • Not having a hard drive

It never ceases to amaze me that Gran Turismo sells as well as it does. Oh, it’s certainly well deserved, but as far as painstakingly authentic sims go, they’re ridiculously dense, difficult, and not all that accessible when compared to other game series that sell fifty million copies and move PlayStation consoles. I’m positive Gran Turismo yanks more than its fair share of hardcore car enthusiasts out the analog woodwork, but what about the rest of us?

Above: The answer is on the last page!

I’d wager that a substantial percentage of those copies go to gamers interested in owning the most beautiful title on the console, fanboys purchasing out of solidarity, and those who merely dabble in the nuances and couldn’t possibly be utilizing the game for everything it’s worth. Fortunately, Forza Motorsport 3 has finally bridged the vast divide between gearhead and average gamer in a way that Gran Turismo seems to have little interest in attempting.

Above: The single best new feature in Forza Motorsport 3

You’ve seen Rewind modes elsewhere, but the ability to take the race back a couple seconds enhances the experience tenfold. Unlike other racing sims, Forza’s vehicles get beat the hell up performance-wise AND cosmetically. Thank the Gods: Wrecks, spin-outs and all those other little F-ups that shatter sizable chunks of invested time are literally things of the past with just a push of the Back button. It’s not as refined as the Flashbacks in DiRT 2, but rewinds are unlimited, and you’ll only suffer the small penalty of an asterisk next to your lap time record. 

Hands down, Forza 3 is the most accessible sim the world has ever seen. Everything you’ve ever perceived as impenetrable about the comprehensive racing sim can be turned on and off like a light switch. It’s not simply that every damned detail is customizable, it’s that the adjustable options are available at any time and are never buried under parchment scrolls of convoluted menu options.  Just on the surface, you’ve got in-game leg ups such as colored guide lines, traction and stability control. Best of all, you’re never penalized for calling in an “Assist,” but you’re rewarded with more XP and cash the less you use them. Turn ‘em on when you need ‘em, off when you don’t.

And while we of the vigilant hardcore once begrudged the game’s much touted “Auto Brake” as a baby mode that plays the game itself, it’s actually extremely fun and a giant step toward making the genre less daunting for the average player. Sure, the gas-to-brake finesse nestled within the 360’s analog sticks are, once again, Forza 3’s crown jewel. They truly represent what makes a phenomenal game and a feat of digital engineering, and it’s a shame for people to miss out on the subtle complexities of two-fingered feathering. But it can’t be denied that games like Need for Speed, Burnout, and GTA have fathered a new breed of racing fan that doesn’t care to take their finger off the accelerator. And thanks to a single adjustable menu option, Forza’s built a place for them, too.

Forza 3’s ability to change with your specific level of skill and comfort isn’t just a triumph of accessibility… It’s a total game changer. I started the game on “Regular” and after an initial race to gauge my skill, Forza’s omniscient Sorting Hat assigned me to a class with the Auto Brake on… without telling me. I had a great time. Fellow editors with no interest in racing games had a great time… and it was only after several hours that I realized the game had been decelerating for me! “What do I look like, some n00b?! Let’s turn that off.” And Forza 3 became a completely different game.

Each and every difficulty preset reveals an entirely new game. So while I eventually became most comfortable playing on “Hard,” there are still two more degrees of difficulty to tackle after that! New vehicle classes you unlock through Season Play present the same inviting progression. You don’t have to be a car nut to notice the variances in the handling. Each car is distinct and the way you’ll eventually gravitate towards one or the other is not unlike selecting your preferred Street Fighter character. And right when the experience becomes too comfortable, you move on to a new class to master.

Did we mention that Forza 3 is big? Well, Forza 3 is huge. The game comes with a second disc filled with 100 more cars and 29 new tracks. That’s nice. However, it requires a 2GB install. Those without HDs are screwed, those of us with 20GB 360s and Xbox Live connections are kinda short on space. (I had to delete Shadow Complex, dammit!) Turn 10 describes it as giving you a year’s worth of DLC for free, which is fair, but the no other 360 game has ever asked for that sort of digital real estate on Day One. AND when they do, there’s usually a decrease in load times… herein lies Forza 3’s biggest drawback. Have a look at my game stats:

Above: WAAAAHH! BOO HOO! GamesRadar didn’t complete a game 100% before they reviewed it

Feel free to run off to any message board you want to complain about our unethical review practices. All we ask is that you finish Forza 3 before you do so. The game is massive, the type meant to be played for years. Our piddly completion percentage up there represents well over thirty hours of game play, but here’s how Forza breaks it down:

17 hours?! We know we played more than that… What the stats don’t show is how long you’ll spend in loading screens:

The average load time between starting a race to actually spinning your wheels is well over a minute every time. Based on the number of races alone, I spent over THREE HOURS waiting for races to start… and that doesn’t even account for the billion or so other load times you’ll encounter everywhere else. To its credit, waiting a minute for fifteen minutes of racing bliss doesn’t seem like that big a deal in small doses, but in the scope of an entire career one could lose WEEKS climbing to the top of online leaderboards and 100% completion. As disheartening as that may be, it doesn’t detract from the overall experience, especially when you consider all the options Forza provides.

Yep, whether you’re fine tuning the parts or cosmetically styling your whip to a ridiculous degree of specificity, you can lose days in the menus. Oh, did you know they had customizable paint jobs?

How customizable, you ask? Very! Let’s fan the fanboy flames shall we?

Above: Click to the next page to see these two automotive titans battle it out!

Whether you know it or not, Forza 2 burst onto the scene with a user-generated community that’s second only to Just about everything you can do in the game, from personall-y honed vehicles and custom decals to edited replay movies and snapped photos, can be uploaded, shared, sold and experienced with a ginormous community. Hell even holds Design Tournaments on a regular basis.

Is it better than... (Race War!!)

Forza 2? Yes. On the surface they appear very similar, but Forza 3 has a far broader appeal.  But even if they were identical, the Rewind button is an absolute godsend! And where it took Forza 2 two years worth of paid DLC to amass its automotive arsenal, Forza 3’s giving it to you right out of the gate. In a bit of a trade off, owners of smaller, standard-def TVs can actually read the menu text! However, the visual portion is now covered by a mist of glaucoma…

Perhaps best of all, all 400 of the game’s cars are unlocked from the beginning! You’re only limitation is what you can afford. Turn 10 tells us that there are roughly 90 attainable cars in the first 15 minutes.

Need For Speed: SHIFT? Sorta. If you haven’t seen SHIFT’s amazing new driver experience, it really is one of the biggest evolutions racing sims have seen in years, and makes Forza look very sterile by comparison. SHIFT’s mid-race milestones are an interesting compensation, as well as a wonderful reason to not restart, but it’s Forza 3’s ability to endlessly rewind turns that’ll make you a better driver.

Plus, EA’s history of annual NFS releases gives us no reason to believe the game will see anywhere near the amount of continued online and community support. After all, there’ll probably be a new one in eight months, right?

Gran Turismo 5: Prologue? Depends. It may not be fair to compare a full-featured game to what’s essentially a compensatory demo, but it’s almost unavoidable in this case. Both games are after the same audience of diehard gearheads, but it’s Forza that extends the biggest olive branch towards a much broader audience.

GT is essentially the same game every time, only prettier. And while Gran Turismo 5 will probably add in the features it should’ve had years ago, its primary focus has and always will be pure, unadulterated car porn. For many, that’s all that matters... so visually speaking, Prologue (Answer A.) still looks significantly better than Forza 3 (Answer B.), and it stands to reason the full featured GT5 will look even better. See, we’re not here to bash the PS3! That’s for the video below:

Just for you, Metacritic!

The Rewind addition removes the most agonizing aspect of the modern racing sim, while the ridiculous level of customization and online support keeps the experience fluid and rewarding. And at 60 bucks, Forza 3 presents more value than just about any other game in any genre.

Oct 8, 2009

More Info

Release date: Oct 27 2009 - Xbox 360 (US)
Oct 23 2009 - Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Racing
Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Turn 10
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Mild Lyrics
PEGI Rating:


  • crazyqazqaz - January 13, 2010 8:57 p.m.

    You can tell which picture was which by looking at the numberplate of the cars. In Forza all the cars have blank numberplates.
  • eLyUKayEe - December 5, 2009 2:52 a.m.

    whoah!!!! I want this game!!!!
  • John-117 - October 21, 2009 3:27 a.m.

    I totally get what you're saying, any time a game series has released so many titles it's hard not to find it getting more and more stale. Competition is the best part of this, I personally don't believe PD would never have even given cosmetic damage a chance were it not for the Forza series. Also, let's hope GT seriously beefs up the online components, they have a lot of room to grow in that regard.
  • GamesRadarChrisAntista - October 20, 2009 7:38 p.m.

    @John-117 That's fair. Sorry if I gave the impression that I don't find Gran Turismo to be a grand technical feat, cause I really, really do. It's just one that's been repeated 5 times, and I'm starting get a little bored with it. Admittedly, I was intentionally prodding Turismo fans, but competition like Forza will only produce better games from both sides in in the future, right? So there's really no reason to hate on either other than shits and gigs. Besides, didn't the fanboys read the part where I said Turismo looked better?
  • John-117 - October 20, 2009 4:54 a.m.

    @ Chris... again They are however resting on the piss poor demo that was Prologue, until they deliver a proper game this generation all their talk is for nothing. Turn 10 are seriously one of the most cocky developers I can remember recently. That's a turn off for me, especially when their rivals keep shut and just let them run their mouths. The Forza community is amazing and their create features bring a lot to a very well trodden genre.
  • John-117 - October 20, 2009 4:47 a.m.

    @Chris, the PSP Gran Turismo scores are mainly based upon it's lack of a proper career mode, which was the goal of the developer; bite-sized Gran Turismo. Forza 3 definitely looks very good, but it's about taste. Some people don't care about licensed cars, some thirst for all the manufacturers and the latest models and concepts. Some demand hyper-realism, some like easy scalability and a more arcade tone. Choice is good and since both are going to be on the market who cares. Saying that GT is resting on its name is quite a statement because that's exactly what PD doesn't work tireless hours to do. /my two cents
  • Phazon117 - October 20, 2009 1:08 a.m.

    @Howetzer Well that's funny I thought we were playing something boring and unchanged like GT. Great review, Chris!
  • GamesRadarChrisAntista - October 20, 2009 12:42 a.m.

    I suppose I should clarify that I don't give a shit about licensed cars. Cosmetically, anyway. I like to race, and I'm starting to feel that Gran Turismo has been skating by on it's legacy and licenses for a while now (see scores for PSP version.) Thus I addressed the "gameplay" - weird, huh - of which I've always felt was carried out better by Forza. How many cars do you use anyway? 99.9% of gamers haven't driven 99.99999% of the vehicles in the game. We could argue forever about which Lotus/Ferrari/Dodge Neon handles more authentically, but sooner or later, aren't we really just taking their word for it? Turismo is notoriously unforgiving, and while its fans wear that as a badge of honor, I find it annoying. Forza 3 let's me tackle stuff at any difficulty I want, whenever I want. And you don't need a fanboy to tell you that the online community is better because any naysayer is probably a PS3 owner and well... you've taken that thing online, right? @Howetzer You are hilarious, my friend!
  • Cogglesz - October 18, 2009 11:45 a.m.

    yeah after some more time with it i'm starting to feel forza 3 is going to be a bit shady since forza 2 was pretty successful, i got an email from xbox saying that forza 3 is coming out soon and its the first racing game simulator to feature the veyron, lol didn't shift manage to do it before them ? and yeah i agree with a lot of people on here, i don't think you's should have gave it a ten, at the most a seven with its shady unrealistic interior camera, all it is is forza 2 with more cars and tracks and fancier graphics to try stand a chance against GT, i loved the forza series but now i really don't like it after playing the demo
  • e1337prodigy - October 16, 2009 6:45 p.m.

    Love the review. While waiting for the race's to load we can always read Games Radar. The video was hilarious, shame there are no Robin Reliant's in the game. p.s. any news on MS maybe releasing a steering wheel with the clutch pedal?
  • shalcool - October 14, 2009 10:57 a.m.

  • Greed - October 13, 2009 11:23 p.m.

    God damn it, Chris, you're incredibly articulate. How can one single person be so funny one minute and write such a fantastic (well, also funny) review as well? Fuck TV Stars, you're my celebrity and I can actually visit you without getting shot. And believe me, I'm coming Chris, whether you like it or not!
  • lewis42025 - October 12, 2009 11:02 p.m.

    @howetzer, jesus christ, take a deep breath and calm down. lol, i swear you are the very thing people think of when they think about really annoying fanboyism that nobody likes, and the huge boner you have for gt5 is poking through every single word you wrote. on the actual topic of the review, i was honestly pretty disinterested with forza 3, but the glowing recommendations that gr gave may have just persuaded me. very well done cantista, racism indeed
  • Howetzer - October 12, 2009 7:34 p.m.

    A 10? Jesus GR you guys just don't give a rip anymore do you? Microsoft says "Jump (and give this game a 10 while you're at it)" and you say "How high?, and sure thing, whatever keeps the lights on, right"? This game looks like the idiot whos name its not even worth my time to look up again that said you thought picture B looked better, get your friken eyes checked, PLEASE.Espeacially if you are going to be driving on the same roads as me anytime soon. Also that video that is supposed to be "bashing the PS3" LMFAO thanks for that the whole thing looked like complete unrealistc garbage dump abortion. Lmao you guys do make me laugh though at least. I guess that's why I keep comin back for more, it sure as hell isnt for your oppinions on games, lol or do I say the publishers oppinions' on the games they told you to review? lmao. Way to fail at "reporting" guys, you took the cake and ate it too on this one, I can't wait until GT finally comes out (and yes I do realize that it's been in "development" forever now, but you know what if it looks real then sign me up because the prologue shot from 2 years ago is a hell of a lot better looking than that forza screen so I know the full game will be the best looking racing game ever made when it comes out) and you guys Im sure will give it a 7 or some gaddamn stupid ass score and say "well a 7 is a good score, I don't know what your problems are" and expect more idiots to just Luuuuv them some GR reveiwers, which they will by the way because most people are retards some just are slightly higher-functioning than others. Anyways I am rambling, but another point I'd like to get out there is that I think it's pretty funny how enamored you guys are with this stupid ass rewind feature, its like the best thing since sliced-bread eh? Well thats funny I thought we were playing a realistic racing sim? It's Hyper-realistic I guess? Just Nice guys. Imma end this one with a Slow-clap for you guys.... CLAP..... CLAP..... CLAP.....
  • Spybreak8 - October 12, 2009 7:20 a.m.

    @dirk5541, ah man you need to try GRID at least before you say that lol.
  • dirk5541 - October 12, 2009 3:34 a.m.

    Seriously, how different can racing games get? Left turn, right turn, left turn, right turn . . . man what fun!
  • mrandydixon - October 12, 2009 2:25 a.m.

    Hmm. I thought picture B was prettier...
  • GameManiac - October 12, 2009 12:48 a.m.

    (Nice car... I wonder if I can get that kind of paint job on a Porsche 911...) As much as I respect the Forza Motorsport franchise, my preference stays and belongs to the Gran Turismo franchise (mostly because I like Sony more than Microsoft...) (Seriously, does that paint job go on a Porsche 911?)
  • nadrewod999 - October 11, 2009 2:07 p.m.

    I want that "GR" car in real life, not just in a game. No, on second thought, I don't want it... I NEED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Sugarblossom - October 11, 2009 11:07 a.m.

    im more of a FPS gamer but im totally getting this!

Showing 1-20 of 67 comments

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