Project Gotham Racing 3 Review

To quote the manual, “Life begins at 170.” In Project Gotham Racing 3, AKA PGR3, you get to race over 75 of the world’s baddest and fastest cars. These are the types of cars where you whip out a drool cup and fork over a truckload of Benjamins to buy one.

PGR3 is all about racing and attaining rank because being second sucks. The game offers a very robust scoreboard system that focuses on your attempt at becoming the best driver in the world of Xbox Live. You will get to rock out to the latest and hippest tunes while you are doing it as well. You want to listen to your own tunes you say. Well you got it. PGR3 allows you to stream music via an MP3 player. Don’t have an MP3 player. Cool because you can rip your favorite CDs to the Xbox hard drive.

Fasten your four-point racing harness and forget about the airbags because this ain’t your momma’s minivan, or your sparkling new Honda Civic with aftermarket intake. You are about to experience racing like you never have before in a beautiful, widescreen, and high-def experience across racetracks in Las Vegas, London, Tokyo, New York City, and Nurburgring.

The fact that the new lineup of Xbox 360 games are designed for a high definition TV automatically gives them a leg up on previous titles graphically. PGR3 is full of wondrous beauty and elegance coupled with state of the art lighting affects.

The really amazing thing about PGR3 is how they managed to simulate speed. You truly get a sense of speed by the awesome use of blur affects that scale up as you go faster and faster. This is really noticeable at top speeds.

The scenery and backdrops are beautiful and highly detailed. From the skid marks from your recent round of power slides to the bevels in the guardrails you get a never seen before graphical depiction of how it is to race on the streets of the world’s most attractive cities. Nothing spurs you on more as you whiz by fans at 180 plus and witnessing the myriad of flashbulbs from the spectator’s cameras.

Enough of that stuff, let’s talk cars. All 75 plus cars in PGR3 are highly detailed replicas of the actual cars including the interiors. From the emblems to the dashboard no detail was left out to bring you the truest representation of the world’s top cars.

The other thing that amazed me the most was how the scenery reflected off the highly polished, waxed and supreme paint jobs of the cars. Even the windows reflected the scenery in perfect synchronization. It was like nothing I had ever seen before in a game. I can’t express how much this game shows off the graphical potential of the next age of console goodness. You have to see it to truly understand.

The only criticism I can make is with the damage modeling. When you whack your car into objects your mirror might break or your spoiler may bend, but that’s about it. I guess the cars were too expensive to dent them up real well.

The wealth of music options cranks up the score for this category. Let’s take a look at all the options. The game comes with an impressive playlist from both popular big name bands as well as break through newcomers blasting out the notes from nine musical genres. Some of them include Alternative Rock, Rock, Hip Hop, Classical, and Bhangra, which is a combination of India’s classical heritage and London’s club sound. My favorites are the ever so overplayed Queens of the Stone Age’s Little Sister and Staind’s rock ballad, Right Here.

So you are starting to get burnt out on the selections. No problem. PGR3 comes with the ability to stream music from your favorite USB enabled personal audio device. Connect your iPod let’s say, and go to the Xbox dashboard and select the music you wish to listen to. Wow Xbox 360 and iPod working together! Is this a sign of the second coming?

Maybe you don’t have a personal audio player because you hawked it on Ebay to get the money to pay for your Xbox 360. Well you are in luck because you can rip CDs to your Xbox’s hard drive. That’s right, I said you can rip’em to your hard drive. Imagine doin’ a buck-eighty while Rush’s Red Barchetta wails in the background.

Whew, that’s just the music options this game comes with. When developers go to the trouble to offer all these features you can’t help but shout out kudos to them, but they didn’t cut corners to bring you all that goodness no sirree.

The different rumbles and roars can be heard in all the vehicles in PGR3. From the high pitched whines of the turbo V6s and V8s to the guttural throaty punch of the intimidating muscle cars you get the full real life sounds of all these racing machines. You also get to hear the tire screeching as you slide around corners as well as the bangs and thumps when you miss and hit another car or barrier.

You want control, how about the ability to pull off 360 donuts, E-Brake slides, and power and brake drifting. It’s all available in PGR3. Everything you need to whip your high-powered machine around every corner and turn.

The racing physics are some of the truest I have ever experienced. This is just one more quality representation that is Project Gotham Racing 3. The throttle is very responsive and varies in level depending on what machine you pulled out of your garage. It doesn’t take anything to stop these mothers on a dime either.

The trick to controlling these over horse-powered beasts is to work you way up in difficulty levels so that you can learn how the different cars handle. Eventually you will be able to figure out which type of car suits your driving style. Whether you are dive bombing into a curve or fading into a corner and powering out all the cars in PGR3 respond the way they state they will based on their specs.

Most of the time you’ll be using the triggers to control your throttle and braking, and the thumb stick to steer. A racing steering wheel setup would be pretty cool for this game, but the standard Xbox controllers are very accurate in their own right. You can tap the “Y” button to get a peek of all the drivers getting your dust behind you, and you can use the “A” button to pull the handbrake to help perform a wicked 360. You can use the “X” and “B” buttons to manually shift, or just let the car shift on its own.

The game pad handles music controls and you can get a different view by using the right side thumb stick. All of these functions can be swapped around and customized via the options panel.

My God, where do I start? There is a wealth of different types of challenges and racing to be had in PGR3. The main thing you want to do in PGR3 is expand your abilities and accomplishments in the solo career. This allows you to build up your cash flow so that you can buy different cars. The online racing only allows you to use your cars, and you have to have the right class of car in order to compete in the different racing classes. The solo play is known as Gotham Career.

In Gotham Career you race different circuits in an effort to gain kudos and achievements like badges and trophies. You earn kudos by executing good racing technique like for instance holding a nice racing line and entering a corner at the optimum spot as well as style kudos for grabbing some air or performing a 360. There are a bevy of badges you can attain by achieving certain milestones in the game.

You also earn credits so that you can increase the digits in your bank account. This will put you in a position to be able to purchase different cars in order to round out your stable of racing machines. Believe me it is money well spent when you upgrade your Acura NSX to a GTR, man what a difference. All of the PGR3 vehicles would cost an estimated total of 22 million dollars in real life.

PGR3 also features Ghost cars so that you can challenge your previous run, or maybe grab someone else’s ghost so that you can learn how they maneuver the track. This is a great training tool, and PGR3 isn’t short on these either. The Gotham Career is not just racing tracks. There are certain challenges that will help you to hone your skillz like the cone challenge where you navigate your vehicle through cones on a track simulating a slalom course. Another challenge hones your ability to overtake a certain amount of cars within a certain time limit.

The only thing I didn’t like was that some of the tracks limited the amount of speed you could muster as some of them are more like road courses than oval racing tracks. It isn’t that big of a downside as you want to have the different track challenges available, but I felt it limited the experience in what the game does best, simulate speed.

PGR3 is chock full of value. If what I have listed already doesn’t convince you wait until you read about the online experience and custom track builder.

Gotham TV allows you to watch your friend’s races or you can tune to the Heroes Channel to watch the best drivers duke it out on a professional level. These races are not pre-recorded. They are live races you get to watch of the best drivers on Xbox Live. Like Cole Trickle said in Days of Thunder, “I learned a lot from watching racing on ESPN, the coverage is excellent and you’d be surprised at what you can pick up.” Well he isn’t kidding. This is where you go to see how the pros do it. You can also watch your friends via the friends channel and jump in as a spectator. Oh yeah, don’t forget to keep your eye on the ticker that updates you on all the latest happenings with PGR3 on Xbox Live.

Online Career allows you the ability to take your garaged cars and match them up against all the online action. Everything you do is tracked via the TrueSkill ratings system so that the system can put you with the players in your skill range. Ranks are provided like Newcomer and Rookie so that everyone knows where you rate. Do you have what it takes to make it to Gotham Star? Few do.

PGR3 also comes with a racetrack editor named Route Editor. Route Editor lets you customize the pathways and corners in each of the existing maps. The editor is really easy to use, and you can test out the tracks to make sure they are designed the way you want. Once you’ve ironed out the kinks you can host a race on Xbox Live or use your track for solo play or your own LAN via system link.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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