Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Bizarre Creations
Release Date: November 22, 2005
With the upcoming launch of the Xbox 360, there were some individual titles that were expected, and Project Gotham Racing 3 was definitely a title from Microsoft Game Studios that was on the short list.
The last time around the block for Project Gotham Racing 2 was enjoyable for many, but there were a few qualities that really got some gamers’ radiators boiling. One big issue was a highly exploitable bonus system; by making flashy turns, kudos gained would accumulate to boost your racing score. It was kind of like being at the restaurant in the movie Office Space, where your performance was rated on pieces of flair instead of your skill. Ultimately, competition suffered because some players would just rack up kudos instead of really racing.
Another issue in Project Gotham Racing 2 was car control as an arcade racer. The superhuman cornering was a little too good to keep players in for the long haul. That said, Project Gotham Racing 2 was still a solid game, and tearing around the tracks with your friends usually made for some really close matches.
So, with Project Gotham Racing 3 we’ve been waiting to get close to the final build to see exactly how the tweaks would play out, and if the jump to the Xbox 360 would make a world of difference in the environment.
From the moment we stepped into the world of PGR 3, it was evident that things have changed. The very first car we saw, a shiny little Honda NSX, was so pretty it warranted some extra time to admire. All of the cars in Project Gotham Racing 3 are so well rendered that they look too good. They are sharp, colorful, and really, really shiny; almost too shiny. PGR 3 cars are so clean that you can get distracted watching the clouds’ reflection on the clear coat of the hood, so make sure you choose a cockpit vantage point, or you might just run head-on into a wall.
The highly rendered exterior combines with some other details about the car, proving that the audio and visual effects for vehicles in PGR 3 were extremely well thought-out. Project Gotham Racing 3 stuck microphones all over the real cars that match those in the game, and the result is a driving experience that can allow anyone to close their eyes and just imagine they are sitting in the driver’s seat of a Ferrari. As far as the visual effects go, the cockpit view seems the least developed, but all other views couldn’t be much better.
Continuing with the visual rendition is the speed effect. PGR 3 lands somewhere in the middle of the effect compared to previous titles in the genre, making it a pleasant fit with its simulator-looking, arcade-feel approach.
If there’s one part of Project Gotham Racing 3 that is most like a simulator, it would be the environment. If you are from NYC, or Tokyo for that matter, PGR 3 might freak you out a little bit. There is little doubt that New Yorker friends of those who buy Project Gotham Racing 3 early will buy the game just to see their neighborhood in the game. It’s no joke – Microsoft Game Studios had to go out and get licenses for nearly every individual building in Project Gotham Racing 3. It sounds crazy, but after not being to the city for a while, it was really awesome to see buildings I remembered, with the same businesses that are actually there.
So, with the fact that PGR 3 is an arcade racer on a bit more conservative track than recent predecessors in the series, it still shows the grace under fire around the corners that keeps many from losing their minds. Drivers like Forza aren’t for everyone – most can’t handle the stress of that reality.
In the end, it all comes down to the fact that Project Gotham Racing 3 is trying to nestle itself right into the slot of an arcade racer that makes you feel like you are driving a simulator because the graphics look so good. Will they succeed at that? Absolutely.
But how will drivers get to enjoy the worlds of Project Gotham Racing 3? Microsoft Game Studios has come up with five modes, as follow below.
Capture the track : Team racing, where individuals win segments. Team that wins the most wins.
Team Eliminator: Last to cross the finish line each lap loses until one team wins. With two teams of two, if team one is last the first lap, they lose a racer. If they are last the second lap, the second racer is lost, and team two wins.
Team Street Race: Red Vs. Blue. Sound like Halo? Score points throughout a race series, and the team with the most points wins… deathmatch?
Eliminator: If you’re last in the lap, you die. Everybody dies, except for the last driver racing.
Street Race: The old stand-by, juice it up, hit the corners and win it the old-fashioned way – by yourself!
If you are going to hit the streets alone, make sure you are well equipped. We started out with a lower-end Honda, and it was tough at first. After all, in multiplayer, it’s not easy taking on 400+ horsepower beasts with your little machine, so beef up a bit in solo play before you decide to take on the big boys.
Cars are available in Project Gotham Racing 3 right from the start -- all of them, if you only had the cash! That’s right, big spender, PGR 3 has the whole automobile world unlocked for you, but it will leave most window shopping for quite a while before they can afford it. Don’t worry, you have company any day of the week… just swing by British Motor Cars on Van Ness in San Francisco, and you will see plenty of guys staring in the window at the newest Lamborghini, Lotus, or Bentley seven days a week.
For those of you who can’t make it, PGR 3 has made it possible to drool over these cars in the comfort of your own home – but you might actually be able to afford one in the virtual world sometime in the coming months, and don’t worry, we’ll be right there buying one in the Project Gotham Racing 3 fantasy world with you.
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