Project Gotham Racing 3 for Xbox 360 is the 4th installment of the racing game series that started way back on Sega Dreamcast with Metropolis Street Racer. The game has you racing through different challenges, such as, navigating through pylons, completing laps under a certain time limit, hitting a certain speed at the finish line, and racing against other opponents as you earn money and kudos (style points) to purchase and unlock new cars. Project Gotham Racing 3 is a cross between arcade and simulation racing games that encourages you to slide around corners to earn kudos, but also has a simulation feel to the cars and their physics. This may appeal to both types of racing game fans or turn both of them off.I originally didn’t really like the driving style in the game, since I had been blazing through Ridge Racer 6, which is an arcade style racing game. After some practice I learned to enjoy Project Gotham Racing 3’s style of driving. I still seem to slam into walls more often than I would like, since I still can’t figure out if I should slide around some of the turns or actually slow down and take them more like I do in Gran Turismo 4. The other thing you may notice when playing the game is that the difficulty settings seem to have a strange division or maybe it is just me. When I first started playing the game at “Medium” difficulty I was losing almost every race especially if I hit a few things or took a turn wrong. This became frustrating, so I switched to “Easy” and then seemed to win and complete every challenge on my first try. I will admit that now after beating the “Easy” offline mode I can win more of the “Medium” difficulty races, but not all of them as you would think after that much practice. Which car you choose also determines how easy it is to handle and maybe that was my problem when I first starter playing the game. It just seems like the difficulty levels need more balance or maybe I just suck at the game.
One thing that doesn’t suck about the game is the graphics and they truly are a showcase of what the Xbox 360 system can do with all of its next generation power. I still noticed a few jaggies across the top of the cars and lines on the road shimmer, but everything else looks beautiful. The cities are also modeled to perfection and driving down the Las Vegas strip brings back memories of when my wife and I went on vacation there a few years ago. Everything is modeled exactly as I remember and in the exact same places. The tracks in Project Gotham Racing 3 are not made to look like Las Vegas, New York, London, and Tokyo, but actually are the cities exactly as you see them when you are there in real-life. Now, I haven’t been to New York, London or Tokyo, but from what I have heard of the other tracks and seen in the Las Vegas track I would be very disappointed if they were not exact duplicates of the real-life cities. All of these cities and backgrounds fly by at a good pass with no slow down either. You will also see 3D modeled fans next to the track cheering you on. Gone are the flat paper doll fans of previous generation games. The cars are also amazing looking inside and out and the amount of detail in them is truly outstanding. I really can’t saying anything bad about the graphics in the game and hooking your Xbox 360 up to a High-Definition TV makes them look even better, even though they look amazing on a regular TV too.
Project Gotham Racing 3’s sound effects are also very well done and you will hear the motor revving and tires squealing as you race around the tracks. The crowd can also be heard as you fly by the grandstands and will react depending on what place your are in. Everything you would expect to hear in a racing game is accounted for and well done. The music though is a mixed bag, some is good, some is bad, and some of it is just weird. The developers I think tried to appeal to fans of every genre of music and included rock, pop, hip-hop, rap, instrumental, and more. The orchestra songs are mostly decent, but just don’t seem to fit with a racing game. Some of the other music from the other genres are good, but some leave you wanting more. Thankfully you can use your own custom soundtrack and also switch the songs using the digital pad like you switch radio station in your real-life car and maybe that was what Bizarre Creations was going for in this game.
The controls in the game are also decent and easy to learn where the buttons are located. As mentioned above, sometimes I had a hard time figuring out if I should be trying to slide around a corner or slow down enough to make the turn like a real-life race car driver. Controlling the cars in all the different in-car, bumper-cam and behind the car modes seemed about the same and you shouldn’t have a problem switching form the different views and driving decent. One of the coolest views is the new in-car mode that puts you in the driver’s seat where you can see all the of the dashboard as you look out the front windshield. The view also shifts and moves when you accelerate and head into the turns simulating how the drivers body shifts as the G-forces kick in and the car throws you from side to side. Also, the windshield actually has small imperfections, dirt, and scratches on it to add to the realism. Plus, you get a glare if you are racing on a sunny day track. This mode is really impressive, but the only thing that was a little disappointing was that you can’t see the rearview mirror at all times in all the cars. At first I thought this was because I was playing on a regular TV and that I was not getting the full widescreen experience, but then I hooked it up to HDTV and I still couldn’t see the rearview mirror in some of the in-car views. I was thinking that the widescreen HDTV mode would give you a wide enough view to see the mirror and allow you to see your competition coming up from behind, but I was mistaken. This doesn’t ruin the game and a lot of the cars allow you to see the mirror, but it was surprising to me that it wasn’t this way for all the cars. Maybe the developers know something I don’t and they couldn’t give us the true “in the driver’s seat experience” and show us the rearview mirror, since the screen isn’t wide enough for some of the cars based on the position of the drivers seat.
That last part of Project Gotham Racing 3 I need to touch on is the online modes and this is a major part of the game. The offline mode is just pre-season and a way for you to tune your skills before going online against the real completion of real human drivers driving real fast cars around highly realistic race tracks. The online modes of PGR3 are very impressive and should keep any racing fan happy until the next game in the series comes out. There were always people online to play against every time I got online and most of them seemed to be cool and trying to win the race instead of goofing around. I also didn’t notice any lag during the races and it felt just like the offline mode. Speaking of the offline mode, every race you compete in under it will also show your online ranking if you are connect to Xbox Live. So, even if you are only racing against the computer you can still see where you stand against the world based on your kudos points for every race. The online modes include your standard races and also have other cool racing options like Red vs. Blue, Eliminator, Capture the Track, and more. Then when you need a break from the online racing you can go into Gotham TV mode and view some of the best racers in the world race ranked races live. You can also keep track of the latest events and your friend’s status by watch the news ticker when you are connected to Xbox Live and participating in on or offline races. Project Gotham Racing 3’s online Xbox Live features are a showcase of what can be done with an online Xbox 360 game and Xbox Live. If you are into online racing games then PGR3 probably is the best on the market right now for features and online integration.
Project Gotham Racing 3 is truly a showcase of what the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live has to offer. It has a decent offline mode with different challenges, but some of these challenges are more exciting than others. I would’ve liked to have seen more races than pylon and speed challenges, but that might be just me. Online mode is where Project Gotham Racing 3 really shines and if you are into online racing then look no further than PGR3 on Xbox 360. The graphics and sound effects are great and the music and controls are decent, but could use little more tuning. The music can easily be fixed by playing your own custom soundtrack and the controls you will get use to, so just give them some time. All-in-all, Project Gotham Racing 3 is a solid racing game that is a showcase for what the Xbox 360 can do. The scary thing is that this a launch title, so what should we expect a year or two from now from racing games on Xbox 360?
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.