Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Bizarre Creations
N Amer - 11/15/2005
Project Gotham Racing 3 Review
Ah, Xbox, you have given racing fans like myself a healthy dose of racing action with Project Gotham Racing and followed it up with a sequel we still talk about in our sleep, thanks to its addictive Xbox Live online multiplayer. Oh, those were good times but now the Xbox 360 is here and Project Gotham Racing 3 is the next generation of racing game and it not only looks great but it also plays like a dream.
Released as a launch title, this third addition to the stylish PGR series isn’t a rushed production nor will it simply serve as eye candy to show off the 360’s graphical powers (although the visuals are, well, impressive). This is a genuine sequel with all the familiar touches and gameplay mechanics of past Project Gotham Racing games (like earning Kudos, points gained by performing stylish combo moves during races) only with new additions and even more style. Sure, it will still feature a plethora of licensed vehicles and there’s still the excellent online multiplayer but somehow the series feels even smoother on the new console.
You start the game’s single-player Career by purchasing the only car you can afford at the moment and placing it in your garage but don’t worry because the available list of affordable cars aren’t nothing to sneeze at and they certainly do the trick on London’s racing circuit. Once again, the career takes you around the globe and this time around you’ll be racing courses in Las Vegas, Tokyo, New York City and even N�rburgring. Your career will take you through a variety of Championship Series that won’t require you to race a specific vehicle but rather allows you the freedom to use the car you want and take to the different racing events.
Among the events you’ll take on in each series are Timed Events that include Timed Run, Hot Lap, Breakthrough (a timed race with checkpoints you must reach on time) and Time vs. Kudos (the race is timed but earning Kudos stops the clock to earn you a few minutes before the timer starts running again. Then there’s the Racing Events that have you going up against other racers. These events range from Street Race, One on One and Eliminator (where last place gets you eliminated from the race). Finally there’s the Style Events that centers on earning Kudos to successfully complete. These events include Cone Challenge, Drift Challenge, Overtake Challenge and finally Speed Challenge.
Control-wise the game controls just as great as the last two PGR games and it moves at a very steady framerate. The 360’s control scheme doesn’t really take anything away from the overall flow of the races or the ability to pull off stylish moves. You’ll be earning Kudos for pulling off successful moves like the Feint Drift, the Breaking Drift or Two Wheels (where you lift your car during a sharp turn enough that you’re riding on two wheels). Pass the lead car and you earn yourself Kudos or catch some air to earn even more. Sure you can concentrate on winning a race but it’s even more fun just to rip through the course while earning points good for unlocking concept cars or purchasing even faster cars, like the Ariel Atom, but it will also increase your rank.
In addition to the excellent, yet short, Career mode, you can play a freeform mode called Playtime. Playtime includes a Create a Race mode that allows you to take any event and car and create your own racing event with these tools. The best addition is the Route Creator that allows you to create your own racecourse by inserting waypoints and finishing lines anywhere on a map so you can be as creative as you want in the design. The great part is that you can save your creation on a memory card and share it with a friend.
Ah, but it isn’t a Project Gotham Racing game without the Xbox Live multiplayer mode. The Online Career is a separate game mode that pits you up against eight players on Xbox Live. Using your cars from your Solo mode garage, you can take your car and compete in themed events and competitions that require certain classes of cars so make sure you have, say, a Class A car or two in your garage. Online the game moves smoothly and without any real annoyances and that’s a good thing since your performance is ranked using the new TrueSkill system (that accurately ranks you so you can find racers of your particular skill to race against). New to the series is Gotham TV, a spectator mode that allows you to watch a race in progress. Really, this is the best way to check out and study a rival you want to challenge. In short, prepare to burn rubber online for a very long time to come.
Visually the game is one truly dazzling Xbox 360 game. Played on a high-definition screen gives you a good idea of what the console can display but even without one we’re looking at a game that is not only sharp and filled with detail but also photo realistic when it comes to the cars. The vehicles reflect their surrounding and even though there still aren’t any damage effects you’ll fall in love with how they look both during races and as a replay. The game’s locales look amazing as well, particularly when it comes to rendering the bright lights of Vegas’ Sunset Strip. Smack your car against the rail and watch the spectators recoil in horror. Ah, it’s the little things that make the difference.
If there was ever a game to display the great Dolby Digital sound it’s this game. The amount of sounds you’ll hear in a race is astonishing and even more so when you’re racing against different classes of vehicles. Each engine has its own distinct sound and when you burn donuts you’ll really hear your tires. Best yet is that there’s eight different musical genres filled with a variety of different artists and tunes. If you like Electronics there’s the Chemical Brothers or the Apex Twins. If you like alternative rock there’s Morrisey and Hot Hot Heat. There’s also Industrial, Japanese pop, UK hip-hop, Bhangra music and even Classical (from Bach to Verdi). There’s a lot to love here so turn up the volume.
Launch titles rarely feel like finished products and oftentimes they suffer as a result. Project Gotham Racing 3 delivers a launch title that is quite possibly the best entry in this excellent racing series. It’s still very much the stylish racing game we all love and, on the Xbox 360, it just feels right at home and even looks amazing to boot. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up if you like your racing games addictive and too much fun to want to put down.
|Review Scoring Details for Project Gotham Racing 3|
This is solid driving action for a new platform and - like past Project Gotham Racing games - its combination of simulator-styled driving and fun combos still makes this a satisfying racing game. The controls are handled nicely enough and the tracks are designed well enough. Too bad the Career mode is over a bit too quickly.
This game is a great way to show off the graphical power of the 360 and even more so if you have a high-definition setup. The vehicles reflect everything and the racetrack is just so filled with detail that you can make out the crowds there to cheer on the racers. No vehicle damage still takes away from the realism.
There’s more to the sound effects than just revving engines or screeching tires and with a great variety of excellent tunes (everything from alternative, classical to J-pop) you’ll want to play this one on a good sound system. You can always stream music from a music player or create your own custom soundtrack via the Hard Drive, but you’ll want to stick to the tunes supplied here.
The difficult settings offer a varying degree of challenge but even in the normal setting the game is nicely challenging. The courses have plenty of twists and turns so you’ll constantly be on your toes and so will the opponent AI.
It’s Project Gotham Racing Xbox 360 style. Aside from its dazzlingly gorgeous visuals the game throws in some great additions like Gotham TV, Route Creator and Style Events. There are 80 licensed cars including the McLaren F1 LM. There’s online multiplayer and it’s even better than we hoped it would be on the new console.
Ask any Xbox Live gamer what racing game they still play and the answer will most definitely be Project Gotham Racing 2. Say goodbye to daylight because this is the stuff online multiplayer dreams are made of and with no real hiccups the framerate remains as smooth as silk. You can even watch a race on Gotham TV.
One of the most splendidly enjoyable racing games out there, Project Gotham Racing 3 is an Xbox 360 launch title you won’t want to miss if you’re a fan of the genre. Aside from being a beautiful-looking game this is top-notching racing title that should be a real Must Have for any Xbox 360 owner.
GameZone Review Detail
One of the most splendidly enjoyable racing games out there, Project Gotham Racing 3 is an Xbox 360 launch title you won’t want to miss if you’re a fan of the genre
Reviewer: Natalie Romano
Review Date: 11/28/2005