Reviewed by Jimmy | 12.27.05
I managed to put down my controller just long enough to write this review of Bizarre Creations stunning Project Gotham Racing 3. Integrated beautifully with the new Xbox 360 console, we have a impressive racing title that delivers a well rounded driving experience. Start those engines; here is our review of Project Gotham Racing 3 from Microsoft.
The Xbox 360 is out and gamers have been carefully looking at each platform entry to find the best game for the new console. It could be argued that Project Gotham Racing 3 is that game; I guess it depends if you like racing. If you are a racing fan, and you want the real deal instead of moded hot wheels, PGR3 will be your best friend. From Callaway, to Ferrari, Shelby to Ford, you have most the most expensive roster of cars ever put into a game. Even more then Project Gotham predecessors we have the cream of the crop, and your more common cars have been excluded. Bizarre Creation wanted appeal to inner speed demon that dreams of owning, or even one day driving these machines of modern art, and it does it perfectly.
Kudos in Gotham
Never heard of Project Gotham?! Well it's the acclaimed racing series from Microsoft that launched with the old Xbox platform back in 2001. The series has made a leap into the next generation while keeping the foundation of its game mechanics intact. The game sure looks purdy, but the action is still there. Project Gotham Racing is a game that will test your racing skills while balancing them with style. Kudos is the name, and driving like a wildman while being in control is he way. To keep the Kudos count rising you will have to drive while slipping and sliding with some restraint, it takes a combination style and precession to gain Kudos. Kudos are points that advance your game, get you into better racing tournaments, and buy you all those nice and shiny toys. Personally, I love the Kudos system, and I know some people slag down on it, but it makes PGR3 unique with its own branding and style.
Project Gotham Racing 3 (PGR3) has gone with a more upper echelon of vehicles this time around doing away with slower cars like the Mini Cooper or the VW Beetle. PRG3 has set the bar with a minimum speed of 170 mph and have chosen to go with high horse powered cars which gives PGR3 a higher class feeling. This decision was a concern to a lot of gamers, but giving that hardly anyone on live is driving lower class vehicles online, it guess they are over it. PGR3 is all about the super cars and you will have a number of great manufactures including Ferrari, Callaway, Cadillac, Noble, Panoz, Lamborghini, Jaguar, plus a whole list of others. Even the cover car from PGR2 the Enzo Ferrari clocking in at 650 bhp / 217 mph, isn't a match for PGR3's TVR Cerbera Speed 12 at 800 bhp / 240 mph, or the Koenigsegg CCR at 806 bhp / 242 mph. There are around 75 cars in PGR3 which is a car lover's wet dream and if anyone owns any of these babies that go as high as $1, 4000,000 I'm sure they are not playing on live.
Like the cars, the tracks are also important to racing games. PGR3 five beautifully rendered cities are precisely mapped out with several different race points and landmarks to feast your eyes on. The featured cities are New York City, London, Tokyo, Las Vegas and Nurburgring. Each location looks amazing and especially Vegas can be distracting if your site seeing. Some highlights from the locations are racing over the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC and down through Time Square, sliding through the narrow streets of Tokyo, and of course the glamour and glitter of the Strip in Las Vegas.
The only set back to the cities, is that Bizarre decided to do away with the real radio stations from each local. I'm really puzzled with this one because it gave the original PRG games so much personality. Hopefully, they will bring this feature back and give a nice boost to the soundtrack in game. Speaking of soundtracks, make sure you go into your options and select the ones you like because the default setting doesn't have all the categories in your play list. The selection is fairly large broken into eight genres, so you can have your Queens of the Stone Age and your Classical Flight of The Bumblebee.
The Starting Line
Project Gotham Racing like before the main mode is broken down into championships. PGR3 has 23 championships have a number of challenges that need to be completed which is broken into three event categories, Timed, Racing and Style. Each challenge has multiple levels of difficulty from easy to hardcore which translates into medals earnings, of course each one ramps up the difficult as you progress.
Like class D, or only A, it doesn't matter because the races are open to all classes and the game automatically balances the competition with your car class. The only exception to this is the Online Career game which for some odd reason gives class limit. Not giving races a definitive class is an exploit which you can use to your advantage. Since it is easier to control slower cars it generally means that you can win races easier because you won't be sliding all over the place. If you find a race or challenge too difficult use a slower car, it might just help. It would have been nice if you where forced into some races as a certain class. This would have provided more of a challenge and given players an incentive for you buying new cars and earning kudos. Besides the Xbox 360 achievements, you really don't need to go all out on these cars.
The single player is pretty well balanced and the Hardcore level is pretty challenging for Project Gotham pros. It would take a lot of time and effort to beat the game on platinum. I'm sure gamers will be striving for a perfect Xbox 360 achievement scores, Project Gotham Racing 3 has plenty of replay value which is half the games appeal.
The engine under the hood in PGR3 is the online mode, like the Project Gotham Racing 2 this game is heavily endorsed online. With full Leaderboard support, online Kudos, and a small Online Career mode there is plenty to do. Now with PGR3 also have the ability to import custom made tracks from the new "Route Creator" function and race some crazy designs. Trust me on that one some people make the most unraceable labyrinth of tracks. Online racing is a lot of fun a definite bonus to the longevity of this title.
Even though the basics of the online mode are excellent there are a few bugs still in PGR3 which can cause your 360 to crash. It's random, but if opening your blade while in an online lobby can cause the machine to lock up. I had this happen to me several times, and now I don't touch that glowing X on my controller. Hopefully the can patch this up in the future. Also other features which struck me as odd is that you can't force a car class on the online races when you create a race. All the other features are included, game modes, laps, force view, but no force class. I'd figure it would have been a given since it was in the older version of the game. This would be my only complaint about the live aspect, and other then that its one of the best game multiplayer games this year.
The Other Stuff
PGR3 also has some extra features like "Badges of Honor", "Gotham TV", and "Race against the Clock". Badges of Honor are rewards that you can earn in three categories, Race Craft, Career, and Online Badges. These are unlocked by simply meeting the qualification during a race. The badges range from hard to easy and help boost up your credits. Gotham TV is a portion of the online service which is pretty interesting and a new feature to Xbox Live. In the "Heroes Channel" you can go and watch live races happening on the network. They boast up to 30'000 people will be able to spectator a race; this is a spectacular new mode which makes for some cool background action when doing other things. Gotham TV also has a "News Ticker" which runs along the bottom and gives you updates from happenings in PGR3 and can even update you on a friend's progress in a game. This is exactly what Next Generation is Xbox Live is starting to really show its capabilities.
Project Gotham Racing 3 is a well rounded fine tuned machine. This could be reason enough to purchase an Xbox 360, if you haven't done so by now. PGR3 stays close to the concept that made the first two a hit and gives us more online flavor with a major boost to the graphics and audio. Everyone should check this out, and racing fans this one is a for sure buy.
Gameplay: 9.5, Graphics/Sound: 9.5, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 10. Final: 9.5 / 10
The original Kudos challenge: Powersliding, pulling off a 360, getting airtime, staying on the race line, drafting, and getting up on two wheels will earn gamers Kudos points for their style and skill.
The ultimate supercar collection: Take the wheel of more than 80 authentically modeled and licensed supercars from manufacturers such as Ferrari, Dodge, and Lamborghini with fully modeled interiors, functioning dashboards and individually recorded engine roars.
A world of living, breathing cities: Drive in New York , Tokyo , and many other cities, all brought to life with motion-captured crowds of people.
Gotham TV: Show off in front of a global online audience. With GothamTV, gamers can watch any player in the world on live news feeds, get live ticker-tape information when friends break records, and compete with anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Customized gameplay: How you play the game, and in which car and city, is now up to you.
Real life in the living room: With Xbox 360, PGR 3, an HDTV, and Dolby 5.1, you can plug it all in and take it away. With individually recorded engine sounds and ambient recordings.