Project Gotham Racing is the informal sequel to Bizarre Creations' own Metropolis Street Racer, which was published by Sega for the Dreamcast. Project Gotham Racing centers around accomplishing set goals while at the same time getting Kudos, which can also be thought of as style points. The "Kudos Challenge" mode allows you to unlock new cars, tracks, and other cool stuff, by participating in several challanges such as time trials, races, style competitions, and other events. In addition, for all of these events you can increase the difficulty and get more Kudos, increasing your chances of winning a gold medal in each event. For those who just want to play the game without all the other events, there is an arcade mode where the goal is to get a certain amount of style points per track. Get them, and you unlock more tracks. There is also a fun multiplayer mode, where you can race (and smash into) your friends.
Amazing models, detailed backgrounds, and outstanding animation all lead to Project Gotham having the best graphics of any racing game to date, ousting Gran Turismo 3 from that spot. The replays are incredibly realistic as well, seeing your driver's head jolt when you crash into things, sparks fly from your wheels, and realtime reflections. Best of all, you get this with no slowdown at all even in split screen multiplayer, and little to no jaggies. My only complaint is that if you look really closely during the replays and occasionally when racing, you can sometimes see a few pixel seams (white in color) at places where the track joins, however you really have to look close for this and you only see them sporadically. Nothing's perfect I guess.
Project Gotham has a great sound system, letting you use some of the games' own excellent soundtrack to compile your own playlist, or adding tracks of your own to the playlist. You can add your own tracks by ripping your CDs to the XBOX's hard drive in the console's "Music" menu. In addition, you can have mock radio announcers overlay whatever songs you choose, or you can simply just listen to the music by itself. Sound effects and music in the game are very high quality, with astounding low frequency effects. If you have a subwoofer, this game will give it a workout. Project Gotham, like all XBOX launch games I have played so far, supports realtime in-game Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Most of the sound in Project Gotham Racing is tied to the front two speakers. The surrounds are mainly used for ambience, and more agressively during replays, while the center channel is mainly used for in-game Kudos-collecting sound effects. An excellent soundtrack, but not nearly impressive as Halo's.
Controls are wonderful, as the game is very responsive and easy to get into. Force feedback is also used well in this game. The unlockable tracks, cars, and customizations available will have you playing hours on end by yourself, or with a friend.
Many call this XBOX's Gran Turismo 3 killer; it's not - that will likely be Sega GT 2002. Though Project Gotham does kill GT3 graphics-wise, it is simply different gameplay-wise. Project Gotham emphasizes balancing style with speed while throwing a little gambling into the mix, as opposed to tuning your car to win races. In addition, the game is not as simulation oriented as GT3, but not a total arcade fest either; it lies somewhere in between. Bottom line - Like racing? Buy it.