Update: My post on Forzamotorsport.net linking to this editorial was completely deleted and I am now not allowed to post new topics without them being moderated first, lol. I guess I hit too close to home with this article.
Let me preface this by saying that Forza Motorsport 3 is my favourite race game of all time (OF ALL TIME). Up until now that game was PGR4 with its mix of speed, fun, beauty, online modes, and car porn. And there is a good reason they are #1 and #2 respectively, they are practically the same game. I propose that Forza 3 was built from the bones of PGR4. I am surprised that nobody has called Turn 10 out on this yet. Despite Turn 10 bragging about the brand new graphics and physics engines, I believe Forza Motorsport 3 is mostly recycled and outsourced.
I will list the evidence in point form for brevity:
Gestation Period: Forza 3 was developed in under two years. That is very short considering they were supposedly ditching most of the Forza 2 tech. Note I didn't say "they built a new engine", and neither have they, only stating that Forza 3 was built upon a new (to them) engine.
Scabs: Short development times can probably also be attributed to the fact that they didn't even model all those pretty cars or design those slick menus and hundreds of race posters themselves, they "outsourced a lot of our artwork to a group in India (art) and a group in Vietnam (car models)." Now I realize that Turn 10 isn't the only company outsourcing art/tech to Chinese/Vietnamese/Indian subcontractors, Ubisoft started a Shanghai studio based on slave labour artists in the Xbox 1 days. Still, I'd be interested in hearing what Turn 10 has to say about that considering their main competition does everything in-house (and as much as I think GT has gotten stale, you have to appreciate the perfectionism and consistency of the art assets).
Screams From The Bedroom: When installed to the 360 hard drive, Forza 3's audio pops and clips and hisses, but not when running from DVD... PGR4's audio did the exact same thing when installed to the HDD. Forza 2 didn't do this (nor any other 360 game that I have come across for that matter). Tell me they aren't using the same tech!
A Dev Diary video on the 360 Dashboard shows them recording Ford GT engine noises, but then again there was also a Dev Diary on the Dash showing them using vinyl striping tape and a laser-based machine to scan a Bugatti Veyron, and we know they didn't model the cars in the game.
Personality: Both games are very similar in terms of complete feature sets. SLR camera-like photomode features, replays, "Gotham TV", leaderboards, livery editors, party lobbies, game types, online matchmaking hoppers, even the "Hero Car" you are currently driving in the (very similar, calendar-based) career mode is featured "live and painted" on the main menu screen.
Looks: Forza Motorsport 3 looks the same as PGR4. Take a spin around Nurburgring in both games. Compare things like trees, road textures, reflections, chrome shaders, motion blur, wheel spin, car damage, body roll, interior modelling shaders... I could go on. And while we are on the subject of car interiors: FM3 finally has them, and they look and work just like PGR4. Surprise, surprise. Also, I have read that Rare actually helped design the graphics engine of Forza, maybe Turn 10 could shed some light on this.
(And The Big One, considering a claim to an all-new physics engine)
How It Feels: PGR4 was labelled as an arcade racer but had this type of godly handling that no other game had come close to perfecting. It is not quite simulation and not quite arcade. You can throw your car into a slide at will, but go into a corner too fast or not accelerate/brake smoothly and you were smashed into a wall. It is fun and challenging. It is how you'd want virtual race cars to handle.
The first time I took the FM3 demo for a spin I was immediately enamored. It felt nothing like Forza 2. The cars now had weight, they were responsive but not on rails, suspension felt proper, the hill climbs/drops, tire grip and weight transfer felt so satisfying... and it reminded me of something. Well if you've read this far, you can guess what it reminded me of: PGR4. And truth be told, unless you turn off all the assists in FM3, it plays alot like PGR4, even right down to the drifting "kudos" scoring.
I guess I should be happy that they took a good thing and made it better. I guess it is an achievement that they got it running at 60fps (although no weather effects like PGR4 had). I guess it is great that this game will actually be supported with substantial DLC and hopper updates. And I am sure the good folks at Turn 10 worked their asses off getting this game to market... I just wish they would have at least given a shout out to the chavs at Bizarre Creations for whatever miniscule hand they had in Forza Motorsport 3's success.
If you are still a Doubting Thomas, know that Turn 10 is probably secretly at work on PGR5 as a 360+ launch title. Go figure.