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There has been a heck of a lot of hype surrounding the release of Project Gotham Racing. Mostly in terms of the press hoping that it will manage to knock Grand Turismo 3 off of the top spot for racing titles.
Installation, Settings and Loading Speeds
Project Gotham Racing is very easy to setup. Just pop the DVD-ROM into the Xbox and away you go. The first menu to come up is where you decide on your name, helmet color, license plate design and a few other bits and pieces.
I am going to leave discussing the settings in Project Gotham Racing until later because there are just so many little bits and pieces that can be tweaked in the game. So how are the game loading times? They are not too bad at all, the only time I tend to notice an annoying delay is when you are selecting a car, moving from one car to the next means that the DVD has to spin to load up the vehicle, and the colors. This shouldn't take as long as it does.
Gameplay & Controls
So how does Project Gotham Racing stand up to Grand Turismo 3 on the Playstation 2? It doesn't do too badly at all, the gameplay is very similar to the original Metropolis Street Racer game on the Dreamcast (Which is where the company who designed Project Gotham Racing came from).
The first time that you start the game, you are asked to enter your drivers name, this allows the game to keep track of all of your stats, kudos points, time played, medals earned and such like. The game automatically saves all of these for you throughout the game so you don't have to worry about doing it yourself.
The medals you earn in the game depend on various different setups for each race/competition. Sometimes you have to complete a lap within a set amount of time, others you have to finish, 1st, 2nd or 3rd to get a medal - but the main part of the game tends to be based around gaining kudos points. These kudos points given to you while you are racing, they can depend on how well you control slides, 360s, overtaking, navigating cones, clearing sections (Without getting damaged), driving on two wheels, flying in the air and combo's. Each one gives you a certain amount of kudos points depending on how long you can control the car without crashing it while performing these moves. If you crash then you lose all of the points you built up during the move.
Before you start a race you can edit how difficult the race will be, but if you do lower the difficulty then you won't be able to gain as many kudos points as you can if you raise the difficulty in the game.
Project Gotham Racing has a number of different race styles they are as follows:
There are so many different styles that the game is very long lasting, not only that but there is always that added push of playing longer, gaining more kudos points and completing levels so that you can unlock more cars, number plates, tracks and helmets!
Split screen mode in Project Gotham Racing is great fun. You can have up to 4 player split screen races, but I would only recommend 2 player modes unless you have a massive TV. There are two racing options in multiplayer mode and they are Win by time or Win by kudos. These offer a very different set of styles in each game type, and its great to go up against a friend of family member and try and drive them off the screen, or to show them exactly how handbrake turns should be done!
The split screen modes don't slow down at all again, there is slightly less detail on the screen than you see in the single player games, but that is to be expected, but the differences are hardly noticeable.
Graphics & Sound
I have a lot of mixed feelings with Project Gotham Racing's graphical side, on one hand we have some great looking cars with some fantastic shadowing, lighting effects and some great reflections. Then you have some great speed and street lighting. But then on the other hand sometimes you get to get poor, bland looking buildings and streets to drive through and a heck of a lot of jaggies on the cars even with S-Video connections.
The good thing here though is that the bad doesn't outweigh the good. For a racing game, the most important thing is speed and Project Gotham Racing doesn't disappoint - there are no frame rate problems whatsoever.
The sound and music in Project Gotham Racing is great, there are radio stations, music tracks and some very good car, street and environment sound effects. The only disappointment there is that there are not all that many CD tracks to choose from, but I guess I am just spoilt after listening to Amped's 150 tracks.
Project Gotham Racing was a great launch title for the Xbox - probably 2nd only to the amazing Halo. There is some great replayabilty here which will keep you playing for a long time after buying it, and that's the sign of a good game.