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Forza is Microsoft's racing game for their Xbox 360 console. This third iteration, Forza Motorsport 3, builds on the simulation modelling of the first game and the decal system of the second. To this it adds more detailed simulation and expanded community features such as video editing and sharing. Real world tracks are joined by fantasy circuits that offer a broad range of environments to match their perfectly modelled cars. Forza Motorsport 3 is more of the same, but for hardcore video game racing enthusiasts this is no bad thing.
To read around the game, hear the development team talk about it and generally dig into the Forza Motorsport world, there was no denying the passion and personal interest invested here. While other racing games may offer some of Forza's features, there are none that can match all of them. And, with good reason, both Turn 10 and Microsoft aren't going to let us forget it.
Forza Motorsport 3 really delivers on all fronts. Input from the McClaren Formula One team, including conversations with Lewis Hamilton, certainly help to get the detail right. From the off the experience is polished and hits the right notes.
New features in Forza Motorsport 3 include a dirty air system that models the mess a car makes of the air as it plunges through it and affects the performance of cars behind. Then there's the tyre flex technology that models the rollover of the rubber as it gets hot during a race and increases the amount of wheel to road contact. These are all minor points but are key to making Forza 3 feel close to real race driving. Even the likes of Gran Turismo 5 on the PlayStation 3 can't boast such a complete simulation of the minutia of Motorsport.
A nice feature, previously seen in Grid, is the ability to rewind the action if you crash. This enables the conscientious driver to work on their perfect line, as well as the less restrained to undo their latest zeal fuelled carnage.
There is breadth here as well - 400 cars across 50 manufacturers and 100 tracks. The tracks themselves are around a 60/40 mix between real-world and invented circuits. Each non-real track shouldn't be dismissed though, as much care and attention has been applied here as elsewhere in the game. In fact each track has its own fictional history written to provide a context for the visual layout before a single cell has been drawn.
Diving straight into the professional no-holds-barred mode I got the racing game rush I love. Played like this, Forza 3 really start to sing. Developer Turn 10 proves their worth as you are forced to rely on your reflexes and senses as the simulation really kicks in. You soon realise that you can play close to (and undoubtedly over) the limit of the car's grip and momentum.
The combination of simulation and driving accuracy here is a great combination. Even without the sparky nature of Gran Turismo or day/night atmosphere of Grid, Forza Motorsport 3 creates a driver's driving game that takes them considerably closer to 'making gamers out of drivers and drivers out of gamers'.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: