What did surprise us was how impressive the latest title in Microsoft's simulation racing series looked. For a franchise that has received flak from videophiles in the past, Forza Motorsport 3 was an impressive reveal for the Xbox 360 and one of the best racing games at E3 2009.
The limited E3 demo allowed us to get behind the wheel of seven different vehicles (from legendary companies Aston Martin, Audi, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford, Lamborghini, Mercedes and Porsche) across three unique tracks. Grabbing the Xbox 360 controller (we decided against playing on Microsoft's three-monitor, force feedback setup to see how the game will perform for the regular consumer) it was easy to immediately select our ride and get into a race.
At the Microsoft keynote, developer Turn 10 revealed Forza 3 is set to feature 400 vehicles (across two discs) of varying classes -- standard sports cars, classics vehicles, SUVs and more -- each with 10 times as many polygons as their Forza 2 counterparts. Needless to say, cars are the star of Forza 3, supported by the game's new clean menu system, which forgoes all excess background visuals from past titles.
Camino Viejo de Montserrat circuit.
While simulation is key to the Forza 3 experience, the game still features a plethora of options for gamers of varied skill levels. Players can switch on a number of driving assists to help progress their skill level, or disable them all if you're comfortable on the virtual open-road.
Forza Motorsport has evolved so much in its three iterations, it's easy to forget the series is still in its infancy compared to other racing franchises.
If aggressive driving (from AI opponents or of your own accord) gets to best of you, Forza 3 includes a new rewind time feature. Players can rewind time during a race (the exact amount has yet to be specified, but seemed to be in the 15-20 second range) and re-attempt a difficult section of the track. Of course, using the new feature has a downside, as your time for a track will be listed as "Uncertified" when posted on online leader boards. Other dirty racing tricks will label your time the same way, whereas clean driving lists your time as "Certified."
Test driving Forza 3's new, detailed in-car view, some of our editors experienced frame rate slowdown versus the game's other camera options. According to Turn 10 the game will run at a 60 frames per second when it ships this October.
Forza Motorsport has evolved so much in its three iterations, it's easy to forget the series is still in its infancy compared to other racing franchises. What Turn 10 has been able to do in three games not only impresses us -- it makes us hopeful that the developer is pushing as much content as it can into the final product. Based on conversations we've had with the team at Turn 10, Forza Motorsport 3 is more than a new version in a series, it's a labor of love. We're hopeful the final product will reflect the developer's commitment to the world of racing.