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Forza Motorsport 3
Platform: Xbox 360
If you read my review of Forza Motorsport 2 you'll know that I found it quite disappointing on a number of levels. With that in mind, I was trying not to get my hopes up this time around, but I needn't have worried. I'm not conceited enough to imagine that the guys at Turn 10 read my review of Forza 2 and set out to address all my issues, but they may as well have. Not only is Forza Motorsport 3 infinitely better than its predecessor, but I'd go as far as saying that it's the best driving game I've ever played!
I know that I've let the cat out of the bag early on this one, but much as I'd like you to finish reading this review, my advice would be to open a new window, navigate to your favourite online retailer, order Forza Motorsport 3 and then come back when you're done. Okay, now that you've got that out of the way, let's carry on.
I accused Turn 10 of trying to appeal to casual gamers with Forza 2, creating a model that was simply too easy for seasoned driving fanatics, but this time around it's crystal clear that the target gamers have petrol running through their veins. I can promise you this, because I played Forza 3 until 4:30am the first day that I got it, and I haven't had the energy or inclination to play a game through the night for a very long time.
So what's so good about Forza 3? It would be easy for me to say everything, glib as that may sound, and although I wouldn't be lying, let's break it down a bit. First up, the driving dynamics are so close to perfect that it's spooky. Take the 997 generation Porsche 911 for example - a car that feels like few others, especially on the limit - but despite its near unique nature, Turn 10 has managed to capture all its strengths and idiosyncrasies to perfection.
That's not just conjecture on my part either, having subjected my own 911 to copious amounts of abuse on the track over the summer. In Forza 3 a 911 rewards smooth driver inputs, and requires commitment through the bends, just like the real car. Having the engine out over the rear axle gives you incredible traction out of bends, but if you nail the throttle too early you'll find yourself facing the wrong way in no time. Master the way a 911 handles though, and you'll understand why many consider it to be the seminal sports car and the benchmark by which others are judged.
The 911 wasn't a fluke either, since each and every car that I've driven in Forza 3 feels as close to the real thing as you can possibly get in a video game. I was very happy to be presented with a 2009 Ford Focus RS as a gift early on, since I took delivery of one of these a few weeks ago, so again had a good point of reference. And yet again Turn 10 has completely nailed it. The Focus RS pumps 301bhp through its front wheels, which in theory shouldn't work, but it does, thanks to some great engineering on Ford's part. Not only is the Focus RS fast in a straight line, but the Quaife automatic torque biasing differential will drag you around a bend like the car is on rails. However, if you're a bit overenthusiastic with your throttle inputs, you'll encounter the car's propensity to oversteer, all of which is recreated perfectly in Forza 3!
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