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Product: Project Gotham Racing
Company: Microsoft
Website: http://www.xbox.com
Estimated Street Price: $49.95
Online Manual: Xbox.com
Review By: Byron Hinson

The Features

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.

Kudos reward system - players are rewarded by a point reward system scoring their stylish and skillful, their willingness to take risk,  and ultimate success. Kudos is a measure of the recognition players personally receive for the skill, flair and daring they drive with, and for the accomplishments achieved throughout the game.

25+ radical and stylish cars from top manufacturers including Ferrari, Porsche, and BMW  - a wide range of vehicles offer players a variety of high-performance driving experiences.

200+ circuits, in four cities (London, Tokyo, San Francisco, New York) - the large number of tracks offer players the best circuit-based racing in four of the world's greatest cities.

  • Each of the 12 areas in the four cities has been accurately modeled to capture their most intricate geographical details.
  • The look and feel of each city is enhanced with radio stations and licensed DJs broadcasting more than 60 of the hottest tunes.

Enhanced multi-player mode - special options provide competitive fun at its best.  Not only can the winner be the one who drives the fastest but it could be the one with the most Kudos!

  • Four-player split screen allows players to race head to head, shoulder to shoulder.

Beautiful game environments - the game's highly detailed, mapped out levels allow players to drive along photo-realistic city environments, clearly showcasing the Xbox superior graphics technology.

Installation, Settings and Loading Speeds

Review Quotes

 

"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"

 

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:

  • Quick Race Mode: Racing through checkpoints against five other cars in a set amount of laps

  • Arcade Race Mode: Score a minimum amount of kudos points by going through cone checkpoints.

  • Time attack mode: Post a personal fastest lap on one of over 200 circuits.

  • Kudos Challenge Mode: This is the main part of Project Gotham Racing as I started to talk about above. Test your limits racing through 12 levels and 9 different types of racing challenges.

  • Multiplayer Mode: This gives you the chance to take on other human opponents in split screen multiplayer races.

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!

Review Quotes

 

"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"

 

Multiplayer

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.

Final Comments

How It Grades

 

Controls: 87%
Gameplay: 92%
Presentation: 88%
Graphics: 90%
Multiplayer: 91%
Sound: 91%
Manual: 90%
Interface: 88%
Price: 91%
Overall: 89%

 

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.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 91%
Version Reviewed Project Gotham Racing
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 Project Gotham Racing DVD
1 Set Of Instructions
The Good Points Great feel of speed
Long lasting gameplay
Fun multiplayer
The Bad Points Jaggies on cars
Steep difficulty levels


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