Project Gotham Racing 3

The famed and loved racing simulation series from the XBOX, Project Gotham Racing, comes to the XBOX 360 with PGR3. Incorporating next-generation graphics and a blistering soundtrack, Gotham Racing once again provides a legitimate competition to Sony’s Gran Turismo franchise. How does it hold up against the heavyweight, and does it compare to the first two in the series?
Overview
Racing through high-definition courses with state-of-the-art sport cars, Project Gotham Racing 3 is a racing simulation with a touch of class. Racing to earn KUDOS and furthermore badges, players must win to compete, and increase your skills as a driver.
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Gameplay – 9.0/10
Project Gotham Racing 3 incorporates the same smooth and easily adjustable game play mechanics that had been present in the first two Gotham games. It is a title that has once again been incorporated to the magnificent 360 controller successfully, and even the most novice Gotham, or racing, gamer will feel right at home with the noob-proof controls. Being mainly a PS2 gamer myself over the past year or two, I found it a bit strange at first to have the acceleration button as one of the top trigger buttons and not one of the face buttons, but the trigger acceleration truly is a great controlling mechanism. It has worked for other XBOX titles and it has once again worked perfectly for this 360 racer. The controls are not too complex, and you should feel right at home when first popping the game into your console.

The only noticeable adjustment to car controlling is that some may seem a bit heavier than others, and this only adds to the realism of the title. Obviously, longer and wider cars are going to be heavier than cars that are smaller, and this is handled well in PGR3. It adds a bit more of difficulty to the racing aspect, and your game can get extremely hardcore once you earn your way up to the more difficult races and the action gets faster and more intense.

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The game AI is quite a challenge. Not to the point where it is unbeatable, but the game does incorporate a given of trial and error. Particularly when playing on higher difficulties, you must try and get as far away from your opponent as possible, and the slightest mistake will set you back a few seconds, and your opponent AI will reap the opportunity and speed away from you. At this stage, it is almost impossible to catch up. This type of challenge is mostly unseen in even the best of racers, and it is realistic and good to see this kind of AI present. In real life if you were to crash into a wall or spin out and 2nd place were to overtake you, chance are you wouldn’t catch up. Same thing happens here and this AI development is a positive that enhances the realism of the title.

E-brake slides are an important aspect of your success. Particular slides earn a certain number of KUDOS, and KUDOS are used to unlock concept cars and tracks, as well as the chance to purchase the concept cars yourself. Starting off on the easier difficulty is any given for a new player to the franchise, but you will eventually move up to the harder difficulties, and harder objectives mean more credits and KUDOS. You will however find your bank account increasing dramatically, quite quickly, even if you play right through on the easy difficulties. To me this was not really that much of an issue as I’m fairly new to the Project Gotham Racing franchise; I played the other two but not in great depths, but the advance gamer to the series might find it a bit simple. Your cash flow gets very high very suddenly, and it does at times feel like you are getting over-rewarded for very minimal tasks and racers. However, this really is not that much of a positive nor a negative, as the game has plenty of objectives and gaming options that will keep you playing on.

Overall, Project Gotham Racing 3 is a simple and accessible racing title. Cars control realistically and to their body. Reward system is solid but at times perhaps too easy and the AI is as realistic as it can get for a racing game.

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Graphics and Display – 9.5/10
Fantastic car models and gorgeous racing tracks and surroundings are what you will find in this title. The game looks absolutely stunning in High Definition and is one title every High Definition Television and XBOX 360 owner should have in their collection. Besides the fact that it plays fantastically well, the graphics stand out as the pinch-point of what defines next-generation gaming today, and Project Gotham Racing 3 leads the way in graphical presentation in High Definition. Unfortunately, it looks like a current-generation XBOX game in SD, but it still looks decent. However, you won’t fully appreciate the beauty of the cars and realism of the tracks unless the game is played in full-pledged 1080i. 720p is amazing also, however 1080i is outstanding and miles ahead in terms of presentation to say the least. The cities are amazingly detailed and the cars are all presented with amazing real-time reflections.

One thing that must be pointed out is that driving in cockpit mode is insanely beautiful. Especially in HD, anyone will be amazed at the realism and effort put into this form of game play, and you really can’t appreciate the beauty of this title until you try out a few races within the cockpit view. Outstanding detail and out-of-this-world visuals is what you will witness and you will be in awe at the standard of graphics presented.

Overall, Project Gotham Racing shines graphically. The only downfall is that it looks much the same to PGR2 in SD. Another great looking 360 titles, Fight Night Round 3, still looks great in SD and beyond current-generation graphics, and this is where the disappointed for PGR3 stands. It outshines many other titles in HD however. The amount of detail and beauty of the cars and surroundings is fantastic.

Sound – 8.9/10
Another great aspect of this racing title is the sound. Firstly, musical track selection is fantastic and fits in well with the genre. The addition of classical music is a brilliant touch and actually adds a sense of “coolism” to the game. You might give a little giggle when you hear it for the first time playing the title, but you will soon find yourself entrenched in the beauty of classical tunes, much as you will be with the outstanding visuals.

A majority of the tunes are techno, but there are other variations, from pop to punk and the great classical touch. Pretty much every musical genre is touched except for heavy metal and hip-hop/RNB, but techno is the main music of choice.

Car sounds are also on par with what you would expect from next-generation gameplay sound. Not overly done and the sound experience is also further enhanced when you play the cockpit view; closer to the action and more intense sounds increase the realism of the title.

Overall, PGR3 sounds great, musically and effects wise. Not outstanding, but perfect for the title. A classical addition is fantastic and you will soon fall in love with the genre after a few hours of late-night racing.

XBOX LIVE – 9.0/10
A great online mode that seems to incorporate the feeling gamers have when playing solo career mode. Ranking system has been upgraded and you get rated as you improve and progress through the online system. All the great aspects of PGR2 online have reappeared, and team-based racing online is great fun!

Overall, PGR3 is a great online experience. Although not what defines the title (the single player mode is quite lengthy and enjoyable), gamers should definitely look into this if they want some solid online racing. Very fun and lengthy and there are many gaming and racing options to keep this is in your “online-only” profile for a while.

Value – 9.0/10
Offering a long and enjoyable single player mode as well as a fun, wide and long-lasting online system, PGR3 is a great next-generation racing title. The graphics really enhance the gameplay, the gameplay mechanics are clear, simple and solid and the difficulty is great.
Overall – 9.1/10
Project Gotham Racing for the XBOX 360 is a fantastic racing title. It offers great value because of the lengthy single player and online modes. Fantastic visuals and graphics help define the title as a true next-generation title, and the game play is also a major positive. For those of you looking for a racing fix on your new 360 console, be sure to check PGR3 out. Although it doesn’t offer much more than the previous Gotham games on the XBOX, its visuals and slightly improved online mode warrant a purchase. Furthermore, the title is a great addition into the next-generation gaming field and is a benchmark for future next-generation racers.

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