Monday, January 3, 2011

The Forza 3 Experience

NOTE: Added the crash video

Now I may have gashed Forza in a previous time.  The reason why is because I played both Forza 1 and 2 and thought they were actually quite boring.  Forza 3 is good though but that doesn't mean it's flawless (I already talked about that).  The main hook for buying this game was that I could make those Daytona USA 2 cars (which I did of course) but as for the rest of the game itself, it finally caught on.  I played it quite a bit Spring/Summer 2010 so this was over six months ago, I presume.

First, it's worth mentioning to get into the racing mood, I ALWAYS play some music off a USB drive during the game.  This is part of my Racing Soundtrack which is meant to enrich the racing experience...something a few game developers fail to do.  It's so vital that I bolded this entire paragraph for that reason.  What music is on this list?  I may mention it someday, but until then, here's a little hint...look at past blog entries, there you go.


Anyway, let's talk about online play.  So you can have up to eight players.  You have lobbies splitting up the cars into those of equal performances (R1, R2, R3, S, A, B, C, D, E, F) which is determined by the car's PI rating.  Now I briefly talked about the PI ratings before, but it's widely believed that 4WD cars are overpowered because the game assumes that the weight increase negates the drivetrain swap.  If anything, 4WD cars are much more stable and have better acceleration.  But I'm not going to go into that much--it just sucks because you see people abuse the same damn cars, like the Audi S5 or the Dodge Viper (with 4WD).

Now obviously, you want to buy parts to raise your car's PI rating to the class ceiling, whether it be 500, 700, or whatever.  I must admit it was a romantic notion to choose the parts you wanted.  Want to be safe and race a car with good handling (easy level car)?  Just buy better tires, suspension, and brakes.  Want a fast car and run the risk of a wreck (hard level car)?  Just tack on engine upgrades.  Of course, in the lower classes, you should err towards power more than handling regardless.  No use having racing tires if you can't drive over 70 mph/112.7 kph, now is there?  That was kind of fun, but I see that it's nearly impossible to balance PI ratings in the first place so I gotta give Turn10 some credit for trying.


But anyway, racing online was fun for a while.  It was fun to play the role of pit chief while you were driving:  "You can overtake this guy, he has a bad braking line,"  "Look out, wreck ahead, stay to the left,"  etc.  Cause if you ever get into the position of gunning down another player, it's quite good.

I can't say I've done very well in my Forza 3 online career.  I've had some good wins, but a lot of times I'd just get my ass handed to me by the community which consists of two different types of people:

1. The pros.  Seeing as a lot of normal people like me would've fled from the game due to bad first experiences, it's no surprise they're the only ones left.  My first races were in the R1 online class (Le Mans cars) which were embarrassing to say the least.  I was so close to turning off the game at that moment.

 WOAH, look out...I'm a dumbass.

2. The damn noobs who think this is a destruction derby/Mario Kart more than anything else.  Since Forza has to incorporate realistic physics, all it takes is one or two errant moves and--bam--cars goes flying.  In almost every race, I would inexplicably get clipped by some dummy which sent me into the grass/sand, killing any momentum I had going before.  It would tack on at last 15 to 20 seconds on my lap time and I would have NO chance of winning barring a miracle or everyone else disconnecting.  Thankfully, car damage meant nothing in this mode so I was able to bounce back reasonably.  Usually I would end up zipping past the noobs who held me back which further compounded my frustration.  It's like if they can't win, they take out someone else.

Because of the tendency for wrecks to occur, it is no wonder that Forza is dubbed "as frustrating as real-life."  No really, I've had bad stories where wrecks would occur and it would come to personal exchanges that would make FPS gamers look tame.  Like one time, I was in the A-class lobby driving an 4WD Toyota AE86 with a ChuChu Rocket design (I am not making this up).  We were playing the full Maple Valley course and I had the pole position.

First turn, I realize the 4WD AE86's brakes were crap as I fought for the inside which meant I bumped off this guy in a Porsche, leading to a four-car wreck.  I got out unhinged but since this guy's car was so well-tuned (I'm not about to use skill as an alibi just yet), he catches up to me and magically rams me off the road while he drives off.  Then back in the lobby, he and everyone else have me voted off the server.  How's that for entertainment?

Another time the tables were turned.  I was driving my light blue Ferrari 288 GTO on Laguna Seca and these 4WD cars behind me were trying to make a move.  So I drive defensively by swerving in his way.  However, he zips by and I accidentally give him a shove into the wall.  I get away while he crashed and burned.  He proceeded to call me out although I didn't mean to do that.  Is there a difference between driving defensively and driving dirty?  Hey, rubbing is racing...?

Of course, there really is no way to determine if a wreck was deliberate or not, so people always assume the worst.  When it comes to wrecks, I eventually decided that the less words said, the better.  No use dealing with idiots.


To make things a bit easier, there's a "Professional" lobby where you can play with realistic car damage (damage slows you down) and without driving aids (stability and traction control).  I actually did become quite proficient in driving without aids (this includes anti-lock brakes) although I did use braking lines quite often since I wasn't in the mood to relearn every car's braking patterns (lame, I know).  Now in this lobby, drivers were a lot more tentative.  No auto-brake noobs (just hold the gas, car automatically slows down).  Unfortunately, it's limited to A class which means you can only use stuff like Corvettes, Porsches, and other high-performance sports cars.

I had more fun in this mode.  I ran some good races with no wrecks.  However, there was one instance that just made me rage.  I was on Sunset Peninsula in a Spyker C8 passing up some yellow Porsche.  The guy in the Porsche rammed me into the wall while he drove off into the "sunset."  Of course, my car was battered so I just chugged along for the rest of the race and came in dead last.  As a result, I subtlety send him a friend invite as a means of letting him know how I feel about the situation (I wasn't about to start a debate, I was a bit pissed though).  He accepted it much to my chagrin and went on playing like normal.  Touche.  I removed him a few days later.


And get this--there's another race mode specifically for stock cars.  You only race the three ovals and there's not many people playing, but it gave me a chance to try out my Daytona 2 cars.  Since the stock cars are stuck with a PI from 710 to 740, they are nowhere near competitive in their respective class.  If I wanted to drive the D2 cars, this was my only option.

All I know is that I took my Scorpio Plasma MT out to the Sedona Raceway oval for one race.  There were two Jimmie Johnsons, a 420 stoner car, a Predator car, another black car with skulls and bones on it, an old Richard Petty Car, and a blank (no paint) car.  I was off to a good start but was wrecked by noobs at least five times and came in 6th out of 8th.  Like I couldn't have smashed up the car any more if I tried.  Sadly the 420 car won.  You can see the replay in my Forza 3 Storefront if you check it out.

The other tracks I lost because I needed to buy the right tuning setups.  Oh well, that's the end of that.  No more stock car races.  If they had more races on technical courses, I'd probably play it.


There's one more aspect of Forza I have yet to talk about--car tuning.  Yes, playing all these arcade racers never merited car tuning, but here, it is a vital part of the race.  I'm going to say something that may shock a lot of people--I'm not that knowledgeable in car tuning.  Sure, I know about downforce, gear ratios, tire compound/pressure, but when it comes to suspension, the crap hits the fan.

All I know is it comes down to whether you want your car to be floaty or rigid...understeer or oversteer.  That I could do with the regular spring settings.  But then you get to anti-roll bars, camber, dampening, differential...oh geez.  I could learn it if I really wanted to, but I didn't have the patience.  Mostly because it's a lot of trial and error--modify the car a little, take it out for a drive, repeat a million times until it perfect.  It differs per track.  You can download tuning setups from other people in the Forza Storefront which was a good stop-gap if you're lazy.

You can always use this if you don't know how to tune a car...just enter the car's weight, drivetrain, etc. and have at it.  I haven't tried it but you tell me if it's good:  Forza Motorsport 3 Car Setup Tool

Come to think of it, because games like Daytona and OutRun skip the tuning process, it comes down to one thing...driving skill.  It's quite interesting in that regard.  Enough talk, let's race.  Yes, you can pick the easy or hard level car, yeah, that's good, fine by me.  They both have their pros and cons so it's fair.

Leave the tuning to these guys.  I'll do the driving.

Anyway, that's about it.  Like in Gran Turismo, I would hoard a bunch of cars but since then, I've grown tired of the game.  Once again, it pisses me off that if you're not using these pro tuning setups from the Storefront (which cost a lot of in-game money), you have no chance online...  Anyway, that's it, I had fun, now go drive to McDonald's or something and don't crash.

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