Another nice touch is that when you finish a race you get experience points for both yourself and the car you drive. As your car gains experience levels, you get discounts on mods as well as new cars as gifts from manufacturers. However, each car tops out at experience level five, at which point you won’t get any more bonuses for winning races with that vehicle. This prompts you into using a variety of cars, rather than just sticking with one that you like, and gives the game a more lasting appeal.
As well as being given cars by manufacturers, you can also buy new rides, assuming that you’ve amassed enough credits. The cost of each car depends on its performance level and its rarity – a 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS will set you back around 200,000 credits, which is about what you’d pay in Euros, while a Ferrari 250 GTO, just like in the real world, is eye wateringly expensive at 20,000,000 credits!
If you get bored of any of your cars you can auction them to other Forza 3 players, but since the game hasn’t been officially released yet, the auction room is reasonably bare at present. Or, if you’re feeling particularly altruistic, you could give your car away to someone, although I can’t see that happening too often.
The career mode is also thoughtfully put together, spurring you on to reach that next World Championship race, or even finish the current racing season. On several occasions I’ve found myself playing Forza 3 at around midnight and deciding that the current race was the last one before heading to bed, only to end up climbing my stairs towards my bedroom at 3:30am, or even later (or should that be earlier?).
Despite the fact that you’ll eventually drive all the tracks, in all their guises, in both directions, Forza 3 managed to keep me coming back, racing in new events with different cars. Unlike some games where you just end up collecting a dizzying array of cars, Forza 3 challenges you to use pretty much every car in your garage.
Driver AI is always a bugbear in racing games, but again Turn 10 has done a good job. It’s not perfect, and you can still find the computer controlled drivers deciding that they need to stick to the racing line even if you’re in the way, but for the most part they won’t barge you off the track rather than concede the line, which is more than can be said for human opponents!
Playing Forza 3 online should be an absolute riot, but on an open match it’s not. The problem is simple – if there’s no car damage turned on, then there’s absolutely no incentive for some people to drive properly. So, while you’re way out in front and braking hard for a corner and just about to turn in and clip the apex, some idiot behind you has decided that they don’t need to brake, because they’ll just smash into the back of you, knock you off the track, and then happily drive off around the corner and into the lead.
You see if there are no consequences to you smashing into every other car on the track, there’s no reason, for some people at least, not to do just that. However, if you were to get a group of friends together who all wanted to drive as if they were really behind the wheel of a car, Forza 3 would be as close to the real thing as you’re likely to get, without wearing a crash helmet.