XBOX 360 REVIEW: PROJECT GOTHAM RACING 3

Once you get past all of the pomp and circumstance you'll be able to dive into the various game modes of which PGR3 has no shortage. Veterans might take immediately to the Online Career Mode offered in PGR3 for the first time. This new mode allows you to go through a series of Championships while playing against human opponents. Using the new TrueSkills matchmaking system, you'll no longer have to compete against people who have no lives and play this game all day, 24/7. Your TrueSkills rating will als be there to remind everyone that you aren't as good as you've been boasting. Ha Ha! (Insert Nelson Muntz voice). If you're a tradionalist, set your sites on Gotham Career which is the single player career mode or head immediately to Playtime which replaces PGR 2's arcade mode. Playtime allows you to race any track with any car and allows you set a number of racing attributes such as the number of laps, time of day etc. Playtime mode also houses the Route Creator which is exactly what it suggests: build your own courses from a variety of waypoints located along several different routes in any given city which is far less work than starting from scratch. Once you've built your course, you can race it against bots, take it online or play it on a LAN or systemlink.

The meat and potatoes offline mode as mentioned is Gotham Career. This offline Career mode has been altered for the better compared to the previous game. PGR2 forced you to complete an entire sequence of race challenges based on vehicle class (Compacts, Roadsters, Muscle etc.) set in one city before you could move on to the next city and class. PGR3 feels much less restrictive as the class system has been removed in favor of letting you race whichever model of car you can currently afford. Let me just say 85,000 credits buys you a helluva lot of car to start. I made it through almost the first half of PGR3 with only three vehicles.

The Career mode Consists of 23 Championship Series, with subsequent challenges unlocked by earning trophies. You'll be up against 3 main categories of race, each with their own sub-categories and any particular Championship can consist of varying amounts of the following:

  • Timed Events: Hot Lap / Timed Run / Breakthrough / Time vs. Kudos
  • Racing Events: One on One / Eliminator / Street Race
  • Style Events: Speed Challenge / Cone Challenge / Drift Challenge / Overtake Challenge

You'll be given your choice of difficulty for any of the challenges. If you're a classic underachiever PGR3 allows you to settle for Steel Medals but if you plan on taking the game online, you won't make it very far with that kind of lazy man's work ethic.

Playing PGR3 online will most likely occupy the next few months if not years of your gaming life. It's easy to locate friends and races and with so many copies of this game sold, it's not hard finding playmates at any time of day. I didn't have a lot of time playing online as my ISP has been up and down lately and when it was working I had some trouble connecting to the server. I was assured by an Xbox tech rep that there were complications and the problem was being rectified. I certainly won't go on record to suggest that I've spent much time playing online, but the few races I did play were outstanding, completely lag free and enjoyable thanks to the TrueSkills system. If you don't want to play you can feel free to tune into Gotham TV and watch the best of the best go head to head or locate your online friends to see who's in need of a verbal shunning. It's an interesting and very voyeuristic feature and I think it's very well indicated, especially when you can see how great PGR players create awesome lines through those formidable tracks that are giving you a headache.

Visually Bizarre Creations wasn't able to get this bad boy running at 60 FPS and you'll either notice or not as the debate rages on as to whether human beings can actually recognize 60 FPS. I know that I like when games run at 60 FPS because they look smoother - call me a mutant but I can tell the difference. In any event, PGR3 looks great even at 30FPS. Little visual flourishes such as sun glare as you exit a tunnel as your eyes adjust to the light, dust on the windows, crowds who jump back when you smash into a wall near them, headlights reflecting in your windshield - it's a visual feast. In terms of the overall picture, PGR3 is pushing polygons like a crack pusher pushes ummm...crack? The vehicle models feature 8 times the polygons used to to create the cars in PGR2 and legend has it that the Brooklyn Bridge in the New York level features more polygons than an entire level in PGR2. The vehicles and environments are gorgeously rendered and I doubt anyone will argue that once they see the game in action.

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