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September 25, 2009

News & Features

Test drive: Take your dream car around the track from the comfort of your couch

Associated Press

Forza Motorsport 3

More than 400 automobiles are included in the driving game Forza Motorsport 3 for Xbox 360. (Microsoft)

Want to see if that 2010 model you have your eye on could race in Le Mans? The next installment of Microsoft's flagship racing franchise could give you a clue.

When Forza Motorsport 3 is released for the Xbox 360 next month, the latest edition of the popular driving simulator will feature hundreds of high-end cars. Since debuting on the original Xbox in 2005, the Forza games have thrust players inside virtual vehicles meticulously modeled after real rides, a painstaking process created by developer Turn 10 Studios.

NASCAR goes digital
  • Beginning in early 2010, NASCAR fans will be able to participate in an online racing series featuring digital duplicates of actual NASCAR cars and tracks.
  • In the game, hosted by iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations, players compete against one another as well as NASCAR drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is an iRacing member.
  • iRacing's service requires a PC, a broadband Internet connection and a PC-compatible steering wheel and pedal set.
  • A subscription to iRacing's online service, which permits virtually unlimited racing, is $19 per month, or $13 per month for an annual subscription.
  • --NWautos staff

"We put our hands on every car," says content director John Wendl.

The racing sequel will include more than 400 automobiles, about 100 of which have never been parked in a Forza game. Several SUVs and classic muscle cars have been added, as well as 2010 models such as the Fiat 500 Abarth SS and Audi R8.

Wendl says the game's customization system will let players pimp out even the meekest of rides. "You can do full engine swaps, along with suspension, brakes and all these other things that make the car way more high-performance," he says. "You can get a Honda Fit to a point where it's putting out close to 1,000 horsepower, generating downforce, and it's got racing slicks on it. It will beat up on a lot of cars in the game."

The third Forza game boasts more than 100 tracks, from actual circuits such as France's Le Mans and Spain's Catalunya to fantasy tracks carved into the terrain of Italy's rugged Amalfi Coast and Spain's mountainous Montserrat region. Wendl says the real-world locales are copied "inch-perfect" to their counterparts, but they're not as fun as the make-believe courses.

"Real race tracks tend not to be as visually interesting to look at because they're designed to be very safe," says Wendl. "They're designed for spectators. But we're in a video game. We don't have to worry about anybody getting hurt, so when we create fictional environments, we can build them to be visually dramatic and really fun to drive."

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