|Project Gotham Racing (2005)
Available for: Xbox 360
Never really being a fan of simulation racers, like the “Gran Turismo” series or Microsoft’s own “Forza Motorsport,” I went into “Project Gotham Racing 3” with a closed mind. Sure, the graphics would look pretty – heck, even the tiniest details can be made out in the reflection on the hood of the car – but could “PGR 3” really offer a gaming experience that would change my opinion of the genre? You bet. It took a little getting used to – driving a car with finesse, that is – but “PGR 3” is the closest most people will ever get to racing in a Maserati or a Ford GT, let alone some of the more expensive wheels available for purchase.
There are actually about 80 different cars to choose from – every one of them a super vehicle of sorts – but you can’t just pick any car you want right off the bat. You’ll have to earn the privilege of racing these babies, and in order to do so, you’ll need to earn some quick cash with your affordable car of choice. In fact, the instruction booklet to “PGR 3” states that if you wanted to buy the real-world versions of each of the cars available in the game, it would cost over $22 million dollars. Ouch. Unlike other simulation racers, “PGR 3” offers no customization options other than the paint job, but these cars hardly need a tune up, seeing as they’re already the best in the world.
Still, this doesn’t mean that just anybody can get behind the wheel (or controller, in this case), because it’ll take quite a bit of practice before you’re good enough to take on the steep online community. Luckily, the controller set-up couldn’t be any simpler, with the right trigger as your acceleration and the left as your brakes. The left shoulder button is used to change between one of five camera angles, while the A button accesses your handbrake. Those are the only four buttons that most gamers will need to worry about, though it’s important to note that manual shifting is also possible with the touch of a button.
The handbrake also affects one of the most important aspects of the game, namely in the drifting you’ll need to become a pro at in order to make it around some of the tighter turns. Once you get the hang of it, though, you’ll begin to be rewarded for your fine driving skills with a point system called kudos. Kudos are, for lack of a better word, style points that you can rack up for drifting, finishing first, racing clean, etc. And the more kudos points you earn, the bigger your bank account, which means you’ll then be able to buy some of those more expensive cars, like that shiny yellow Lamborghini Diablo you’ve been eyeing.
The different modes of gameplay in “PGR 3” are pretty self-explanatory, including Solo Career and Online Career, as well as the ability to watch the cream of the crop race on Gotham TV. Also available is the Create-A-Route mode, which allows you to, well, create a route using one of five city templates (Las Vegas, New York, London, Tokyo, and Nurburgring) and your imagination. This is hardly worth spending a lot of time on though, as game developer Bizarre has done a fine job with creating a healthy supply of unique routes. Most gamers will spend a bulk of their time working their way through the rewarding solo career mode, though after you’ve honed your driving skills in a series of challenges, you’ll more than likely want to jump on over to Xbox Live to race against some high-energy competition, and that’s what “PGR 3” is all about. You may not be the best in the world. You may not even be the best among all of your friends. But you’ll still look stylish driving 170 mph in your Aston Martin coupe.