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Variety can spice up any game, and it’s what makes "Forza Motorsport 3" such a delicious treat.

The E-rated racing game — developed by Turn 10 for Microsoft Game Studios — delivers more than 400 cars and 100 tracks. There’s so much content that the game comes on two discs. The best part is that virtually everything is available in the free-play mode the first time you pop the disc into your Xbox 360.

While it’s great to be able to tear around the hairpin turns along the Amalfi Coast in a Nissan 370Z, it’s even better when you can do it against a friend in a split-screen race — a feature that’s sorely lacking in serious racing titles these days.

The game play for "Forza" is excellent, with settings that allow everything from an exacting simulation to a solid introduction for beginners. You can tweak and tune your car to get the best performance as you sprint down a speedway without any computer assistance. Or you can follow a highlighted path that shows exactly when to brake and face opponents who occasionally make stupid moves that send them flying off the track.

The controls work very smoothly, even for those of us who are stuck using a standard controller.

The physics engine works very well, taking into account the performance of each car in different circumstances and with different upgrades.

The renderings of cars and tracks are very good. However, I was a little disappointed with the damage effects, which seemed to lack the realism of some other games.

"Forza" offers a career mode that includes more than 200 events in an ever-changing calendar that’s based on your preferences. There’s also a good selection of online racing options.

"Forza" rates very well in comparison to the other recent addition to the racing genre, "Need For Speed: Shift." Game play is a bit better, and the car and track selection is superior. On the other hand, I miss some of the visual effects that appear in "Shift," as well as the way driving characteristics are rated.

However, the trophy has to go to "Forza" because of its great split-screen mode.

Platform: Xbox 360

On the Web: www.forzamotorsport.net


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