Bizarre Creations
Microsoft
Racing
1-4
11.18.03

Project Gotham Racing 2


It all started with Metropolis Street Racer for Dreamcast, then Project Gotham Racing for Xbox. It was made clear that Bizarre Creations can sure make a great racing game, but I wasn't expecting Project Gotham Racing 2 to be this good.

Gameplay

Real licensed cars, such as the Toyota Supra, Mitsubishi 3000 GT, and the Mazda RX-8 are just some of the awesome cars selectable from the start. You can unlock so many new cars such as the Nissan 350z, the Bentley, many Ferrari's & BMW's, as well as and Audi's & Mercedes. There are just too many cars to list, but making a rare appearance in a videogame is the Pontiac Trans Am. I really haven't seen this car in many games, thus it is an older model (probably the fastest one).

This game revolves around "kudos". Kudos are basically a measure of your style and speed. Kudos are earned by powersliding, having a clean race, or even catching some air. There is a whole list of ways to earn kudos in the kudos breakdown (at the end of a race). There's at least 15 different ways to earn them. After each race you can check how many kudos points you earned, and see what you did.

The in-game menus are setup very nicely. There are three modes of play in the single player mode. The main one is the Kudos World Series, and the other two are Arcade Racing and Time Attack. The Arcade Racing mode is set up with preset cars for you to race with. Playing in each of these with a profile will earn Kudos, except for the Time Attack, which is for the most part just for fun to get the fastest times. You need Kudo points and tokens to advance through the game.

Instead of just picking a car from a list, you can enter the actual garage where the cars are being held. The cars that haven't been unlocked yet will have a cover over them. You can use the walk mode to walk around the garage to select a car. I'd have to say that is a pretty nice feature. The other neat feature is that you can go to the showroom before selecting a car. Here, you can walk around in first person through hallways and go into separate rooms that are marked accordingly to the car's manufacturer or origin. And the best part about the showroom is that you can test drive them all! Being able to test drive cars that you haven't even unlocked yet is awesome. Some bonus cars in the showroom are covered though.

As you progress through the single player mode, there are five selectable levels to play ranging from novice to platinum. The higher level you race at, the more Kudos points you get if you win. You start of with a certain class of cars. Contained in each class are races and challenges. Besides winning races, there are cone challenges, and "overtake". The overtake race is basically you passing a certain amount of cars before the time is up. As you earn kudo "tokens" you can buy and unlock cars within that class. You don't have to spend your tokens right away, so you can save them for later. As you complete an entire class and finish all the races and/or challenges, and have the appropriate kudo status rating, you can then move up to the next class. You do this for about 14 classes. Some of the categories of cars are: Compact Sports, Coupe, Sport Utility, American Muscle, and Grand Touring series.

The control of each car handles accordingly to its type. There are four main attributes for each car. Some cars are terrible at power sliding, but great at top speed, and vice versa. The control feels a little more defined than in the original PGR. The game does not give you the feel of a Sega GT, because PGR 2 is a little more on the arcade racing side. If racing at high speeds is your style, then you cannot miss this one. There's no detailed information about any of the cars, but each car still drives significantly different. Apparently, even if you pick automatic, all the cars seem to be a manual stick shift. When you're in the automatic mode, you can actually see the driver shifting gears, and you can even shift up or down if you want to.

When racing on a track for the first time, you'll notice you have nowhere else to go, but into another car, and it shows the damage noticeably well. Shattered tail lights, smashed in bumpers and windshields, and any other detail you can think of is here. There are no flat tires though, so don't think too hard.

The 2-4 player split screen and System Link support offer a nice variety of multiplayer enjoyment, not to mention Xbox Live.

Graphics

The graphics are some of the best I have ever seen, not just in a racer, but in any Xbox game I have ever played. The outside environments are amazing to look at, and there is so much detail. The cars alone look exactly like their real life models. Car damage is something that I really enjoy looking at. There is just too much detail to explain what actually happens, but just so you know, things will fly off cars. If your car is totally getting hit hard, even the license plate will fall off. Alas, you cannot damage a car so much that it is un-drivable.

I often just would stare at the buildings and bridges in Sydney, and be in awe of how amazing these graphics are. Don't do that for too long though, you'll lose track of what you're doing and wind up crashing.

The weather effects are amazing, especially the rain. Other nice graphical effects are the reflections and night time shadows. Smoke from squealing tires is executed perfectly. The haziness, dusty wind, and debris flying around amazes me every time I see it.

Some of the real places that you race in are Chicago, Hong Kong, Moscow, Washington DC, etc. These places are all accurately modeled, and everything is in the right place. Bizarre was not playing games when creating these environments. Our nations capital (Washington DC) looks absolutely gorgeous. The government, as well as the office buildings all look so real. It looks so good that I wish there was a mode to walk out of the car and just walk up to the beautiful monuments.

Sound

The way the radio will just start your custom soundtracks in the middle of a track while on a radio station is awesome. The people talking on each station sound like they are real live DJ's on a real radio station. They hype up a song that is about to play, and if you have custom soundtracks on, then it sounds as if you were listening to a real DJ. I have to hand it to Bizarre for creating this distinctive feature. As for the rest of the stellar sound, the roaring engines, squealing tires, sounds of collisions, are done with excellence.

Replay

This game will be your favorite racing game for quite awhile. The Xbox Live play and rankings are enough to keep you busy for an eternity. Being able to earn kudos on Xbox live takes this game so high in value that you're not going to be able to get enough of it. Just so you know, the kudos online are different from single player ones. Besides playing on Xbox live, the multiplayer split screen with up to four players is great to say the least.

Bottom Line:

PGR2 shocked me. It's really nice to see how far this franchise has come. PGR 2 sets the standard for Xbox racing titles today. If you don't own this game, then your missing out on the best racing game ever to be on Xbox. If you need a racing game for Xbox, this is the only one you'll need for awhile. The replay value is high enough that you don't even need Xbox Live to be addicted. This game is so perfect that it you will not need to think about or play another racing game for a very long time.

This is the best racing game I have ever played. This game will bring you back to being a racing fan if you haven't played them in awhile, and is the single reason to get Xbox Live.

Related Links:

Official Project Gotham Racing 2 Website

-Steve Melanson




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