If my 2e review seemed a bit on the light side, it was. I never really played FR in 2nd edition, although I did pick up a few FR themed products. Adventures, or Aurora's Whole Realms Catalog, and Volo Guides. The original FR boxed set suited me just fine for any FR setting needs for me, but I picked up the 2e boxed set more to have a "complete" collection. (Even though I wasn't trying to complete all the games.) Indeed, I had picked that set up long after I had all my Planescape materials. (I seem to recall picking it up as an "accessory" for Planescape- Faerun is another world to explore from Sigil.)
I did play 3e FR a little bit, but I have to say of all the editions (including 4e), I like the 3e FR campaign setting book the best.
The big draw for me is two fold. First, there's the trade dress. The 3e Forgotten Realms campaign setting does a great job of making the book appear to be a collection of sheets of paper stacked up. My 2e book edges are naturally yellow, but this pre-yellowed versions adds to the effect.
While I'm not overly crazy about the fonts (as I am with Eberron), they are readable.
All the 3e FR books look great. The pages are a good quality paper too. They feel solid and not flimsy at all. They are smooth, unlike the 1e campaign books, but not quite glossy. I would say it's a step or two below glossy. (The pages aren't shiny.)
The yellow-brown tint mutes other colors, but they're still clear on what they're supposed to be. The blues on the maps aren't as vibrant in this edition, for example, but it's still clear the oceans are blue.
The other attraction to the 3e FR campaign book is the information contained inside. This book is packed. I actually picked up more FR books for this edition despite not playing it much simply for the information. I'm also a fan of Neverwinter Nights by Atari, and since the game engine used the same 3e rules, I figured I could use all those helpful books for making modules. (I'm still trying to figure out scripting, though.)
There is plenty to like about the book itself. As with other editions, there's the alphabets of the realms, characters of the realms and so on. The grand tour is simply "Geography" this time out.
There are edition specific rules of course, but this doesn't get in the way in the geography chapter, which is the bulk of the book.
I like the photo of the portal on page 60. It shows a bluish swampy area with steps up to a doorway in the middle of nowhere. Through the doorway, dragons can be seen flying around a mountain. The red tint on that side of the portal indicates either heat, or sunset. It's clear this is a place that is far, far away.
The section on domains made me realize there's more to cleric domains than I first thought.
Page 86 has the familiar alphabets, but sadly it isn't attatched to any translating character that we'd be familiar with. (You have to count 13 characters to figure out which one is M in dwarven.)
Pages 88/89 has yet another map of the Realms, but this is a trade routes map. It shows what country/area exports what good to whichever other area. Sure, we've read text that says wool and gems are exported from area B, but it's something else to see the trade routes in action. Wool from area B goes to area A, while gems goes to area C. In addition to the "regular" poster map, it would have been nice to have a second poster map with this information.
The big change in this version was the planes, and how they were organized/worked. Gone was the Great Wheel. Now the planes were more like a tree.
All in all, the 3e FR campaign setting is a very solid product, with enough information to run games for years to come.