E3 Hands-On Impressions: Forza Motorsport 3

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Racing fans rejoice – your favorite racer for the Xbox 360 is returning this fall and this time with a whole slough of new features that fans have been craving! Turn 10 is back with a whole new engine and a variety of graphical and gameplay improvements to update the series in style.  Follow the link to read our full hands-on impressions.

The first change racers will notice is the shiny new top-coat that FM3 is sporting thanks to a full graphical overhaul from the team at Turn 10.  Forza 3 features incredibly detailed environments that include plenty of eye-candy to keep pulling your eyes away from the road. One of the 3 tracks available for the E3 demo featured some tight twisting uphill-turns through high rocky cliff walls, eventually coming to a crest that reveals a dramatic view across a gaping canyon – very much akin to the popular Grand Canyon course from the Gran Turismo series. The track then continues to wind down into a hairpin and leads across a dam complete with a detailed river cutting through the base of the canyon.  All car models in the demo looked fantastic and the newly modeled interiors showed off Turn 10’s attention to detail. Thanks to an all new engine, the game runs at a steady 60 frames-per-second.

The graphics are not the only improvements for FM3, as this iteration will also feature an improved physics system that the Forza series is known for. This time round, players who drive too recklessly may actually end up rolling their vehicle!  Crashes in general seemed to be more impactful and the sounds are even more gut-wrenching as you hear your favorite exotic sports car being dragged along a cement jersey barrier.

The new Ferrari branded racing wheel is also a welcomed improvement over the previous offering and includes both a stick-shift manual in addition to the existing paddle shifters.  The biggest upgrade comes in the form of new metal foot pedals which feature a sturdier base and greater pedal resistance to allow for more precise braking. Controls with the wheel felt very responsive and the force feedback reacted to every bump and seem in the track, as well as simulating the loss of tire grip.  To add to the experience, the demo setup on display at E3 also featured a force-feedback cockpit which would simulate the g-forces in the turns and hard bumps to the car.  Couple that with the 3-headed monster monitor display and that equates to one spoiled race fan!

Lastly, in an attempt to make the series more accessible to the casual racer, now hitting the back button after a crash will allow you to “rewind” time back to before you did some custom “bodywork” on that guardrail. It’s unclear how this feature will be used in the career mode and whether or not there will be any kind of penalties, but for those looking for a fun arcade experience, the rewind will surely prove to be a welcomed addition to any aggressive driver.

Forza Motorsport 3 is currently in development by Turn 10 studios, published by Microsoft and is slated for release in October ’09, exclusively on the Xbox 360.

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