Project Gotham Racing 3 Review

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Graphics: 9.5
Sound : 9.0
Gameplay : 8.5
Multiplayer : 9.0
Overall : 8.8
Review by Andy Levine
The developers at Bizarre Creations had a smash hit with the Project Gotham Racing series on the Xbox, and now they’re back with their third installment, debuting on the Xbox 360. In Project Gotham Racing 3, the world’s fastest super cars can be driven throughout various picturesque locations across the globe. Combining high speed bumper-to-bumper action with arcade-style drift physics, PGR3 is a great title to satisfy any next-generation gamer’s need for speed.

PGR3 delivers a solid, long-lasting single player experience that offers a seemingly endless amount of entertainment to any racing fan. The career mode is broken up into different championships all across the world, including places such as London, Tokyo, and Las Vegas. In these championships, there are several different challenges that can be completed on five difficulties for novice racers all the way up to hardcore drivers. Choosing a harder difficulty will make your target goal harder and your opponents more aggressive, but the cash prize will increase significantly.

While some challenges are merely basic street races where you’ll need to finish above a certain position, the developers also offer a creative twist to the racing scene. In the Time Vs Kudos mode, you’ll race against the clock by earning Kudos in order to cross the finish line before time runs out. In Cone Challenges, a certain number of Kudos must be earned by driving through cones with style, while the Eliminator mode is a traditional lap knockout game type.

Kudos are earned by performing tricks while you drive, whether it be riding on two wheels, drifting around a corner, or by catching some air. Earning enough Kudos will make new concept cars available for purchase and will also increase your ranking in the PGR3 world, opening up new challenges for you to face. The game has a linear progression, so once you complete one set of challenges you’ll simply have to move on to the next, but luckily the whole experience can feel fresh due to the wide variety of cars. There are four essential car classes, ranging from Mustang Cobras and Nissan Skylines all the way up to Ferrari F50s and McLaren F1s. Credits are earned relatively fast throughout the solo career, so after completing the first few championships it’s possible to own the fastest car in the game. The cars you race against will change based upon what you drive, so you could conceivably complete the entire game with just a Corvette. The goals given to you will also change depending on your ride, so don’t expect to get off the hook easy if you just bought a new Class A car. The solo career is an overall enjoyable experience for racers of all skill levels.

PGR3 also has a bunch of party game modes that can keep the game feeling crisp for a long time. To start off, gamers can create racing rooms, which computers or local human players can join. In these rooms, you can set up free-for-all or team-based races for some fierce competition. Whether you’ve hooked up your 360 with a friend’s for the ultimate grudge match or if you just want to see if you can take down seven hardcore AI bots at once, setting up a match is extremely easy.

Some new game types are introduced here, including Team Street Race and Capture the Track, which can alternatively be found online. In Capture the Track, the team with the driver to post the fastest time between one set of checkpoints gains control of that segment, and the team with the most segments at the end of the race wins. Another cool feature is the custom Route Creator, which allows for millions of different tracks to be created. You’ll have the option to test out your track and customize every aspect of it to your liking until you finally dominate your friends on the route of your dreams. A photo mode has also been included for the gamers with an artistic side. By selecting the photo option from the in-game menu, the race will freeze and allow the gamer to capture their ride in all of its magnificent glory. The Garage mode lets you view your entire collection of cars as if they were right in front of you, and as an added bonus each garage comes with arcade versions of Geometry Wars 1 and 2! Veterans of the PGR series will notice that most of the material here isn’t new, so you shouldn’t be expecting an overly inventive game but rather a well done racing game. Once the solo career is over and all of your favorite cars have been unlocked, there’s still plenty of fun to be had.

The multiplayer component of PGR3 is also well developed, offering one of the best Xbox Live racing experiences to date. The online portion is divided up into two portions, one being your online career and the other just racing for fun. In your online career, you can join various class-specific races in order to boost your TrueSkill ranking. Some special race modes here include Urban Rallies, which are all-out sprints, and One-On-Ones, where the racing is always vicious. PGR3 supports up to 8 racers in one game at a time, which can almost be more than enough at times. The beginning of most races usually turns into a collision fest, especially when the faster cars are put at the back of the pack. Still, once all of the chaos clears up from the start the rest of the race should run smoothly. If you’re apprehensive about trying a ranked online race, you’ll always have the option of racing around for fun as well. Friendly matches with the full set of options can be set up easily, so you can always refine your skills before entering the competitive world.

The most innovative online feature in the title is Gotham TV, which allows you to watch the world’s greatest racers live! When watching a race, you can switch between cars, change camera views, and even save the replay for later for further examination. If there’s ever a tricky part of a track that you just can’t figure out how to get by, why not watch one of the highest ranked racers do it? The online mode could be a little better if it introduced some new game modes, such as a form of clan based racing, but as it stands you certainly won’t be disappointed with PGR3’s online component.

Project Gotham Racing 3 is by far the greatest looking racing game to date, and the sound is also nothing short of extraordinary. As far as the visuals go, every single polygon helps make PGR3 look fantastic, from the highly reflective car models to the intricately detailed environments. The cars look absolutely stunning no matter what view you race in. If you prefer to race from outside the car, you’ll be able to see every tree, sign, and ray from the sun reflect upon the lustrous cars. The cockpit views are realistic and don’t feel claustrophobic, so you won’t have to sacrifice performance if you really want the full effect of driving a Ferrari. As you begin to pick up speed the world will start to blur, making the sweat begin to drip down your hands as you try to determine what’s up ahead. The most brilliant effect can be seen when you come flying out of a dark tunnel only to be greeted by the blazing sun.

The engines sound appropriate depending on what perspective you’re in. Outside the car the high pitched whirring of an Enzo will certainly catch your attention, but in the cockpit view the whining is muffled by the rushing wind and rumbling driver’s seat. While the Gotham radio was a great feature back in PGR2, it was sadly replaced by playlists made up of various genres, including rock and opera. Despite this, the game still sounds incredible if you turn the music off altogether. Playing PGR3, especially in 1080i, will definitely get the adrenaline pumping through your body.

In conclusion, Project Gotham Racing 3 is a fantastic next-generation racing title. With a vast array of high-powered super cars and an almost endless possibility for race types, the driving experience never grows dull. With its unique blend of simulation and arcade physics, Project Gotham Racing 3 is a beautiful game that will be certainly be played for a long time.