Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
Nov 24th 2003
Introduction:It doesn’t seem that long ago when the Xbox was introduced along with its launching titles. Two years have passed and it’s now time for Microsoft to deliver the sequels to their launch titles. Project Gotham Racing is one of those games which stood out and helped make the Xbox a success. Xbox fans are building that old racing excitement again with Project Gotham Racing 2. They should be excited because this game is great!
The Game:Project Gotham Racing 2 builds on the original games concepts and expands them. The biggest change would be the inclusion of online play, via Xbox Live. PGR2 (Project Gotham Racing 2) gives you allot more to handle, along with new car classes and vigorous online races. They have included more cars in every class then the first game, some unlocked and the others you need to unlock. If you want to read more about the PGR2 Xbox experience I will cover it more in-depth in the innovation section.
A change from Project Gotham Racing is the separation between the car classes. This time around each class has its own division where as before you could take the Dodge Viper and race a bunch of Compact Cars like the Mini Cooper. Now you’re going to have to opt for a same classed car for any of the different challenges. This was a good change, and makes it great for playing online.
The vehicles (now including SUVs) are divided into several different classes including; sports utility, compact, muscle car, ultimate and more. You get to start at the bottom and work you way up. When you purchase the game you will only have the compact division open, to open other vehicles classes you must complete at the least the novice level in all of the compact class challenges before you can move forward. This system works through all of the game. Although it would have been good to choose which class you want to try, this way you get more play out of the game and your skills will advance at the same time as the cars. It’s important when handling the extreme cars in the rain, you’ll see.
The challenges in the game range from beating lap times, passing a number of cars under a time limit, street racing to normal racing and they are all set at different difficulty levels. So if you are just learning the game you might want to try all the Novice challenges, but if you have the skills step up to medium or hard. Just like the first PGR if you win a challenge above another level the lower level will be unlocked logically.
Controlling the vehicles in PGR2 is the same as the first installment, you will want to maintain your speed and handling, but you will also want to drive with style earning Kudos points. The Kudos points can is award to you by driving extreme around the track and performing various stylish maneuvers. Basic Kudos points come as easy as completing a run without hitting any walls and sliding around corners. Of course there are many wonderful ways to collect Kudos points and the great thing is unlike the first game when you hit a wall after just earning they would be gone. Now you can keep them, you just loose the bonus points for linking moves together. Kind of like Tony Hawk, minus the ollies and kick flips. Unlocking other vehicles is done by the way of Kudos coins, so save those coins and only by the vehicles you really want at the start of the game. There are allot of challenges in PGR2 and it should keep you busy for a long time, providing new cars, new tracks and new challenges keeps the re-playability up high.
Graphics & Sound:The graphics in Project Gotham Racing 2 are a step up from the rest. When you watch the replays they have made the game come closer to capturing the real thing. It’s uncanny how well the modeled the cars and accentuated so many things to make this world seem real. From the leaves blowing on the ground, to the disc breaks stopping behind the rims, PGR2 steps up and shows the great capabilities of the Xbox.
Another great graphical achievement is the locations their accomplishment in capturing the international flair of the cities. The circuits come to us from location from around the world; the different locations differ in street types, length and width. You will come to learn the geometry better and pick the right car for the job. For instance you will need a car that handles better in Tokyo rather then top speed to deal with the quick turns and narrow streets. The track design is great and allot of fun online. All around this games graphics put the cherry on top of the ice cream. Bizarre Creations makes me proud to own an Xbox, and they have pushed their graphical engine and models up from their previous efforts.
The sound connects with the same perfect quality, well done, customizable and realistic when it comes to emulating the real life engine sounds (as I would believe, since I have never driven half the cars included). The music consists of radio personalities, top forty artists and other assorted main stream music. Great job.
Innovation:Xbox Live and Project Gotham Racing 2, it’s a beautiful thing. I call this a racing innovation, what this game has done is merge the single player and the multiplayer together seamlessly. With surprising no lag online Project Gotham Racing 2 will have your adrenaline pumping as you take on and rank yourself against the thousands online playing the game.
One situation that gamers are commenting about is that all the cars aren’t unlocked for online play from the start; the cars you have unlocked in the single player mode are the ones that are available online. If you haven’t invested that many hours into the game, or used an action replay then you might the higher models cars to equally compete. I think it’s a good thing though, the game gives you a piece of the pie, but if you want the rest you have to work at it! Thus the multiplayer mode gives you incentive to play the single player mode and vice versa, like I said above “it’s a beautiful thing”. In most cases on Live it’s not the car, but the driver. Tone your skills and you will be able to take on many of the speed demons online. Trust me the corners come fast, and half the time those guys are eating the wall.
One bonus add-on to PGR2 Online is the world rankings. Every time you play the game if you are connected to Live you will see your placing along with all the other people who have played the same track in the same car class. Its just mind boggling how many statistics and tracking is going through the system. This goes for Single player and Multiplayer. Currently I am ranked around 5000. It’s a crazy world and that #1 guy must be damn good. If you’re wondering how these people are such good drivers and have a higher rank then yourself, you can easily find out. If you click on a person in the PGR2 it will show you they races and if they ranked in the top 3. Furthermore you can go and select any race and download the ghost track of any of the players. Download them and try and match their run! The statistics is a really appealing part of the game, and it always gives you a challenge and something to work for.
Mojo:This game has enough mojo to carry me over until next year, and that is a great accomplishment. Other racing games are coming up, but since PGR2 was so damn good my interest has dwindled greatly. This games mojo is out of control! It’s so cool to see your stats moving around with others in the world. It puts a smile on my face. I love the classic muscle cars and the new sport coupes. My only gripe would that you can’t customize your car, but I think they are leaving that to other developers, as kudos is a true innovation unto Bizarre Creations work. Is that PGR2 or are you happy to see me?
Lowdown:PGR2 is the best racer out for the Xbox. The game delivers a great driving experience online and offline. The revamped Kudos and car class system is great, you will have tones to do and everything will be ranked worldwide, if you have Xbox Live. This game without live is just as good, but to get the full experience this game is worth investment into the online gaming world. I am impressed in the variety and quality of development into this game. Pick this baby up, don’t wait any longer.
Gameplay: 9, Graphics/Sound: 9, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 8. Final: 9
GOTY AWARDS: BEST RACING GAME OF 2003
- New Kudos reward system: Earn Kudos by performing power slides, spinning out in 360s that corner on two wheels, and (for the first time) drafting while staying on the race line and keeping car damage to a minimum. Kudos is a way to measure your driving skills, flair, and daring, as well as the accomplishments you achieve throughout the game. The more Kudos you earn, the better you're ranking will be and the more vehicles, skins, and tracks you can unlock.
- Online play: Project Gotham Racing 2 will support Xbox Live. Join friends and others around the world for the ultimate street race, or download ghosts (recorded cars to watch, learn from, and compete against).
- Multiplayer System Link: Allows players to race head-to-head in the same room.
Racing around the globe: Maintaining its international theme, Project Gotham Racing 2 takes place in photo-realistic recreations of famous cities including Chicago, Edinburgh, Florence, and Moscow.
- Sweet rides: Take the wheel of some of the most exclusive high-performance vehicles, all fully licensed with realistic damage modeling. Project Gotham Racing 2 offers an exciting driving experience in vehicles such as the Ferrari Enzo, Porsche GT2, BMW Z4, Pontiac GTO, Mini Cooper S, and many more.
- Music that drives you: Listen to the hottest DJs in the world turn out authentic music from real radio stations, as you drive through each city in the game. You can also create personal play lists with the exclusive CD player in Project Gotham Racing 2.
- Highly detailed game environments: Project Gotham Racing 2 captures the essence of every city, with fully researched, photo-realistic environments (including highly detailed storefronts and buildings), allowing gamers to experience the superior graphics technology of Xbox.nd fights feel ripped straight out of theaters. Plus, tons of weapons, body armor and vehicles are at the gamers’ disposal.