Project Gotham Racing 3 (PGR3) Xbox 360
Xbox 360 has been thin on the ground when it comes to killer original launch titles. Virtually all the games available on launch have been rehashes of PS2 or PC games. PGR3 is the first game that has only previously been available on the original XBox.
PGR3 has a lot of things in abundance such as the large numbers of tracks and locals and the extensive list of high end cars that are available. PGR3 has less vehicles now that previous versions have had, but the 80 available this time around are all supercars in their own right. When starting out one of the worst cars you can pick is the Noble M400, there are no hot hatch's here. The list of makers is extensive and if you want to drive Italian exotics this is one of the only games which features marks such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati.
Paying for cars is not such toil as money comes quickly and easily in PGR3 through the career mode. It's worth mentioning that the career mode can be played as a single player and also online. By completing events you will win medals and earn plenty of credit so you can fill your garages with some of the most desirable cars ever made.
The kudos system is back in place and again kudos seems to come fairly easily. Kudos is earned for spinning wheels, jumping, drifting and late heavy braking. As the handling is pretty easy to get to grips with and the cars have such power the kudos can come rolling in. The most challenging or maybe frustrating challenges are the cone challenges. Getting your car around the course, through the cones and managing to drive in style which earns huge amounts of kudos can be frustrating, or some may say challenging. You're certainly not going to fly through these challenges with ease. The only real problem with the single player career game is the length. There is a total of only 23 medals available so it won't be long until you start looking for other options.
You will probably end up playing the online career mode which is similar to the single player version but you will play human opponents. You will be matched up with players of a similar connection speed and skill. All the races are ranking events so if you mess up your ranking will drop. The major difference with the online career mode is that is never really ends, you will always be on a quest to win as many racers as possible and increase your ranking.
The online game offers more than the career mode you can play the single race as is pretty standard with online racing games. There are also a couple of other modes to spice things up. Street race, eliminator and capture the track. Street race is straight forward racing, eliminator is as you would expect, the last place racer at the end of each lap is eliminated. Capture the track is all about getting the fastest sector times and by doing so you will earn a section of the track.
Gotham TV which is definitely worth mentioning and one of many small additions which really add to the whole PGR3 experience. Gotham TV is basically a TV channel, as it suggests, automatically picking the best race at any one moment from the hundreds that are running at that time. I'm not sure how many people will switch on Gotham TV to watch some racing but it is certainly a very cool and clever little addition to the game. There is also another nice addition which lets you build your own race track in any one of the PGR3 locales.
PGR3's handling is realistic to a point it is more forgiving than simulators such as GT4. These cars are relatively easy to drive and I expect far more so than they would be in real life. The blend of relative realism coupled with the forgiving nature of the game is definitely a crowd pleaser. You feel as if you are able to throw the cars around and become more confident with the cars as you progress. Once you have driven one car you will feel pretty comfortable with the next. As with previous PGR games version 3 doesn't penalise you for crashing. Cars will appear to have broken glass but that damage stops there unfortunately. You won't feel any difference to your cars performance or handling. So you never have a fear of crashing, especially as most crashes won't slow you down as much as you might expect.
Graphically PGR3 is pretty impressive. The sense of speed is good especially if you are using the in car view. The first thing you will notice when starting the game is the look of the cars from the outside. They certainly look very nice, but the real treat is when you use the in car view to drive. The interiors are fantastic and surprisingly the in car view is very usable. Most users generally use the outside car view on a lot of racing games maybe with the exception of Ridge Racer. But all views in PGR3 are surprisingly user friendly. As with all 360 games, to get the best out of PGR3 you really need to be playing on HDTV.
Project Gotham Racing 3 is only a let down in a couple of areas, the main one being the short single player career game. The speed and style of PGR3 really makes up for this small short fall. If you have your 360 online you will really benefit from the endless online career mode and the novelty of the amazing Gotham TV. Probably the best launch game on the 360 and one of the best driving games available on any console.
8.5 out of 10