Project Gotham Racing 3 Review Platform: Xbox 360
by: Nicholas “bapenguin” Puleo, Editor-in-Chief
Project Gotham Racing 3 has been a poster boy of sorts for the Xbox 360 Console. Since well before launch we heard of the thousands of polygons this title is pushing. We've seen the screenshots, the renders, and the videos. But does the end result match the pre-launch hype? Oh yes, very much so.
Graphics are at the forefront of Project Gotham 3, and they are downright beautiful. The game sports 5 cities: London, Las Vegas, New York City, Tokyo and Nurburgring. Each city hosts at least a dozen tracks all meticulously modeled to incredible detail. The textures are downright amazing. For instance, the Las Vegas track has over 22,000 reference photographs and 10 hours of video. There are over 14,000 textures in the final version of the track. On top of the photo-realistic textures sits an amazing lighting engine. The game can simulate day, dusk and night on any track. Buildings light up, neon signs reflect off your car, the sun glares off your hood. It's all very impressive and convincingly realistic.
The game features over 80 cars all realistically modeled and waxed to perfection. The inside of the cars all have an individually modeled dashboard with working gauges. The implementation of the inside the car view in Project Gotham is perhaps the best implementation to date. One downside is the cars have a limited damage model, but the damage that shows up (paint scrapes, broken mirrors, and minor dents) looks really great.
Project Gotham Racing 3 sports detailed engine sounds. When switching to the in car view, the engine muffles and really gives the impression that you are sitting in the car behind the wheel.
The game has a wide variety of songs in its soundtrack. Everything from rock, alternative, techno, rap and classical is here. You can easily cycle through tracks while racing with a flick of the d-pad or you can pull up your own custom music. One nice feature here is the game reads your MP3's ID3 tag to display song title and artist information. It's a nice touch.
Fans of previous PGR games should be right at home here. Kudos is still the heart and soul of the game. Kudos is earned by doing various “driving tricks” like powerslides around corners, drafting your opponents cars and 360 spins around corners. By earning kudos you can unlock new cars (which you still have to buy).
The game has a solo career mode in which you can compete in various events from street racing, time trials, cone racing, and other various modes. I particularly liked the Time vs. Kudos mode in which you have a certain amount of time to finish a track. The problem is, the time they give you isn’t enough to finish it, and you must earn kudos to extend your time. The offline solo mode is a good way to build up your cash and buy some new cars before taking yourself online.
Then there’s the online career. Online career is a totally seamless experience and ensures total variety of AI opponents. Pick your event, and you are dropped in with various other racers. You earn cash and kudos the same as off line. You'll also find yourself being ranked on the leader boards with other racers. You’ll have to earn yourself good enough vehicles and trophies to make it into some of the higher level races. A neat feature during on line play is the sports ticker at the bottom letting you know what's going on with the leader boards and with your friends. Did your buddy bapenguin just capture rank #1759 on the leader board? The ticker will let you know.
The game offers a lot of nice little extra features. Gotham TV is a way of watching on line career matches. There is a hero’s channel in which you can watch the top racers in the world squaring off. Up to 30,000 people can watch a single match at a time. Unfortuantely there is no way to tell how many people are watching a single race from the spectator or racer perspective. This would have made the events have a little more of a “sport” feel to them.
The game also features a track editor in which you can create a custom course in any of the cities in the game. The game claims there are over 10 million possibilities for tracks using this tool.
One last feature is the photo mode in which you can take a screenshot of your car. This isn't your mamma's photography studio though. You can adjust anything from lense aperture, shutter speed, film speed, contrast, color, brightness, depth of field, and add a sepia effect.
All in all this game is full of tons of features and a wide variety of game types both on line and off line. The graphics are top notch and really start to hint at the power of the Xbox 360. The in car view is the best you'll find in a racing game to date. The on line modes are fun to play, and on line career is a great way to keep the game from going stale. Gotham TV is a nice bonus as well as the track editor.
Deep on line career
Tons of extras
Lack of Damage Model
Long loading times (especially on custom courses)
Too many people better than me on line
5 out of 5 EvilEyes
Last edited by bapenguin; 11-28-2005 at 12:20 PM..
PGR3's XBL options are fairly decent: we can custom create tracks as you mentioned, we now have the ability to throw some AI bot drivers into otherwise lonely rooms, we can force In-Car views and manual transmissions for added simmyness, we can save online race replays, we can set the number of laps, and nearly all the cars are open and ready to race with (save for unlockable Concept cars) from the get-go.
An additional drawback in the face of all these options are that the host cannot lock the type of car class.
The different garages you can earn as you buy new cars are awesome. I currently house my Ferrari collection in Las Vegas, but I think I'm going to ship them to Tokyo...
Im loving the game personally, but I have to agree with the earlier poster, the lack of major variety in cars is a bit of a bummer. I actually enjoyed tooling around in a Mini Cooper or VW Bug, working my way up to the nicer cars. In this case, I dont feel alot of desire to buy new cars. Basically, I am still using the Ultima I selected at game start to do most races. If the track requires raw speed, I break out the Ferrari F50. Point blank, I basically play the game with those two cars only. I buy other cars just because I can, not because I will use them. That part is a bit disappointing. I can understand the design decision of taking the grind out of the game, but alot of us like having to build up from the gutter in these games.
That said, the game is an absolute blast. The difficulty level for medium has been scaled *WAY* back since PGR1 days. This game used to be obscenely difficult, now I tend to beat the track at medium difficulty on my first pass through. Hard and hardcore however are a different story. Sometimes Hardcore is pretty simple ( mostly in the race scenarios, where on medium I would tend to finish first anyways, so I might as well have played hardcore ). Other times, Hardcore is obscenely difficult, especially on Timed Runs and Speed Target races. This is about the only time where you frankly need a car of the F50 caliber as any other car just isnt fast enough to get up to speed in time.
I guess that would be my complaint otherwise, the difficulty level is way across the map. Sometimes, often during kudos challenges, or time vs kudo's mode ( which is awesome btw... ), the kudos target for hardcore really isnt that difficult. Othertimes, Hardcore requires like 8x more kudo's then hard, and hard requires 10x more then medium. Ive seen a few races where I frankly think hardcore is impossible, and others where hardcore is frankly no more difficult then medium. Keep in mind, I come from the perspective of PGR1 which was insane in the difficulty department ( some Kudos challenges actually required you to power slide around the entire track twice, without so much as nudging a pylon to hit the platinum kudos target ).
Online is a blast though, with no slowdowns in site, atleast for me. I think if we have enough EA people that own this game, which should have an unofficial EA tourny some night. Especially if what Bap says is true, and he truly sucks
Oh, and it wasnt mentioned, but the AI in this game can be a right bunch of bastards. The number of times ive been spun out by one of these pricks is overwhelming. You truly start to hate some cars out on the track. Anytime the AI can make me hate it and not just because it cheats, I have to say thumbs up.
Great review. PGR really is a VERY polished game. For me the difference maker is the cockpit view. I found the first 2 games in the series to be frustrating, but for some reason the cockpit view in this game just takes all that away. It's more natural, I guess.
I'm normally not interested in any racing games beyond Mario Kart but I decided to give this game a try. It really is a lot of fun and the Hero's Channel is pretty cool. The Novice and Easy modes are way too easy though, it's almost silly that they even put Novice in there considering how easy the easy mode is. I guess if you had a little kid and wanted them to be able to win a race Novice would be easy enough for just about anybody to win.
By not having regular cars, this has dropped from a "Must Have" to a "Gamefly". I go to a real race track (Summit and VIR mostly) with my worked civic as often as I can (and can afford). Being able to drive a car on these virtual tracks that I might actually buy in the near future was the main appeal.
I brought this game back...I kinda felt like it just wasen't as much fun as say burnout, need for speed, or even grand turismo. If i had to put my finger on it i would say that the controls were horrible but who am I. Returned and got condemed and am happy with my choice. as far as racing goes? i'll wait for burnout revenge for some fun arcade racing that my girlfriend can get into!
Am I the only one here that thinks PGR3 is the most over-rated game ever?
There's only 5 tracks in the game : New York, London, and Tokyo... Is there more? If so, I forget because they all look the same anyway.
All the cars feel exactly the same, and the more "expensive" cars, are just not that much better.