Throughout its history, the Ford Motor Company has built a large catalog of distinct vehicles, from muscle cars to trucks and sedans. The company has also cultivated a following of loyal enthusiasts who have formed countless car clubs across the country to celebrate their favorite classic and modern Ford vehicles. 2K Games is once again hoping to capitalize on the Ford catalog and enthusiast culture by bringing more cars than ever to the Ford Racing series with its latest title, Ford Racing 3. However, despite the license and some interesting gameplay modes, Ford Racing 3 comes off feeling generic and far less distinct than the real-life vehicles the game attempts to capture.
Ford Racing 3 lets you race 55 Ford vehicles, including classic, concept, muscle, and modern cars and trucks. The vehicles all provide accurate cosmetic representations of their real-life counterparts, but the default paint schemes look flat, and most cars have only one color available until you unlock a livery pack. You can unlock a livery pack for each vehicle, but that only lets you change the default color to one of a handful of other dull, solid color schemes. Apparently, Ford wants to preserve these icons of automotive history, so don't expect to see fenders crumple or headlights pop when you drive headlong into a mountainside at 150 miles per hour.
The handling of each vehicle varies depending on its weight, size, and speed. For the most part, the vehicles handle as you would expect, with larger vehicles feeling floaty and more difficult to control. However, the speed of the vehicles is not at all representative of their real-life counterparts. For instance, the antique Model T will easily reach speeds of 75 miles per hour--and that's without using the speed boost.
The graphics in Ford Racing 3 are sharp and clear, but flat textures take some much-needed detail out of the game. The water in the game looks completely lifeless, and some of the environmental effects are poorly implemented. In one level you race through a forest where autumn leaves fall from above as you race, but rather than falling naturally and getting kicked up by traffic, they seem to just hang in the air. Also, in some areas vehicles will kick up trails of dust, but often the dust effect will clip right through the body of the car or truck, which looks awkward. For the most part, though, the environments are colorful and varied enough to be interesting, and the frame rate is always steady.
There are a handful of tracks available in Ford Racing 3, and each can be raced in multiple directions, for a total of 26 different courses. The tracks vary from snowy mountain courses, to narrow, twisting highways and the standard oval race track. You'll often drive on multiple types of terrain in a single race, as some of the courses have stretches of dirt track, washed-out sections, and even wooden bridges. Your vehicle's wheels will spin slightly more when you're driving on grass, and sand will slow you down a bit, but it's still easy to maintain control of your vehicle by just jamming on the gas and plowing your way through. There are invisible walls closely surrounding each track, and you'll get the same reaction whether you run into a rock wall or a patch of tall grass. When you try to leave the road, your car or truck will awkwardly bounce back on track with little consequence. Sometimes it's actually faster to plow into the walls at speed than it is to use your brakes to slow for a sharp turn.