Overall User Average: 9.20 / 10 (90.0%)
Gameplay User Average: 9.33 / 10
Graphics User Average: 9.67 / 10
Sound User Average: 9.73 / 10
Date reviewed: November 9, 2007.
PGR 3 may be one of the first games in quite awhile that has fooled me with the screenshots before hand that looked pre-rendered but upon playing it the first time, you realize that it’s completely in-game and much more than you expected. Not being one for many racing games, I decided to pick PGR3 up to add some more variety to my launch collection, and I was not expecting it to turn out that it would be my most played title. With so many different modes, a large selection of cars, and a plethora of extra features, PGR3 has huge replay value that doesn’t get old quickly.
The Project Gotham series has always had a unique premise; to win races, not just by being the first across the finish line, but to do it all with such a style that would be fit for a Hollywood movie. This is achieved with the games Kudos system and it works simply yet effectively. You take a turn normally, no big deal, but take that turn going way too fast, power sliding by hitting your emergency brake and having the nose of your car inches away from the turn’s wall, and that is how you get the Kudos that you need to progress further and unlock more goodies. Catching air, going on 2 wheels, doing clean sections, and racing perfect lines can earn you more. Kudos is all about skill and precision, not going fast as possible into a wall and just accelerating out of it like most racers. Your score goes higher the more you string together moves and slides, so to get some of the goals you need, especially in the hardcore setting, you need to sometimes even slightly slide on a straight track to keep your combo and multiplier going. The risk being that if you have a huge combo going and then misjudge when you start sliding into a turn and hit a wall, you lose your whole point combo. Knowing when to keep stringing moves together and when to let the Kudos add to your score definitely comes in time, and will differ with everyone’s play style.
PGR 3 is much more heavily based on skill rather than “wall riding” that other games let you do without much consequence. The first rule that you learn very quickly is that you must use your brakes to take turns slowly and controlled until you learn how to do sliding E-brake turns at breakneck speeds. Braking means you will make the turn, which in turn means you keep your momentum much faster and have an overall higher speed. Sometimes the game can be a little forgiving in which you just barely touch the wall and it won’t penalize you and take your Kudos away, though it doesn’t always seem to be consistent when it chooses to do this, nor does it happen that often unfortunately.
You are placed into the game with a set amount of cash to buy your first car and then sent off to go start winning your trophies and medals. Not only do you get a decent amount of starting cash, but you quickly notice that you won’t be starting off with an ancient car that has no real hopes of winning any races; but instead, you can start off with quite the decent racer to get your racing career headed in the right direction. Quickly you start earning more than enough cash to buy yourself a much faster vehicle, and instead of selling off your old car to afford the newest ones like most racing games have you do, PGR 3 leads you more in a collective direction; where all your exotic beauties can be showcased in your numerous garages.
PGR 3 offers 5 different city locations which doesn’t sound like a lot, but there are many variants of the city, all with different turns and even feels to them. One feature I quite enjoy that Bizarre Creations has added is not just made the tracks separated by car cl@!%#*!es, but by race types. This means that while there aren’t many different city settings, there are numerous different race types for every one. These can range from drift style races, speed challenges, to cone challenges and more. So rather than giving you a set car for a certain track, you will want to pick a car that is going to be better suited for the type of race you are attempting to complete.
With of choice of 80 different vehicles ranging from the “lower” end Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, and Lotus’, all the way to the super top performance TVR, RUF, Benz, and even the coveted Ferrari F50 and McLaren F1, along with concept cars that would make you drool if you were to see them p@!%#*!ing on the street. Each car handles very differently and certain cars are best suited for different race types. You will obviously enjoy and prefer certain cars to others for their own individual handling and speed, but as soon as you play on Xbox Live, if you aren’t using the “normal” cars that the majority of players do for each cl@!%#*!, you will sadly be left in the dust; regardless if you can take turns superiorly better than the rival that can double your top speed and acceleration.
Single player career mode is divided into 23 multi-tiered championships, and each of them usually has their own “genres” or style to them to offer a play change, rather than the same monotony most racers do. So one championship may be all head to head street racing mixed with some one on one medals to win, while another championship can be all cone challenges mixed with drift and overtake objectives. While the single player is short to initially complete, there is plenty of replay with trying to get all the different medals and achievements that can only be done by choosing a harder difficulty level. Having never really played much of the previous series, I can hold my own while challenging the medium setting, but trying hard is a challenge best left to PGR veterans. For those of you that absolutely love a challenge, hardcore is just that. One mistake on this setting could mean the whole race, and usually does. While this is great news for those that are that good, it can be quite frustrating when you are about to win a long enduring race, having then having lose it on the last corner because you started to turn a split second too early or late. It leaves extremely little room for error, but it’s a great way to keep going back and trying to achieve those elusive medals.
If you want to just quickly start a race, you can do so easily, but there is much more that you can choose to do rather than your typical race. Modes differ from the standard Street Race to Eliminator in which the last driver to complete is lap is knocked out until there is only one victor. Team Street Race adds almost a Nascar feel in the sense that you and your teammates must do what it takes to win; so sometimes having the better racer up front with your partner behind you trying to block the opponents from gaining is what it takes to win this Red vs. Blue battle. Team Eliminator which is much like the normal version, but the victor wins it for their whole team. One of the more unique modes is the Capture the Track mode in which you have to “own” as much of the course as you can by having the quickest time in certain sections. So while you can be amazing at certain corners and have great speeds in sections, you need to have the majority of the track in your control by the end of the timer.
Should you grow tired of racing, there is still much PGR 3 offers for anyone. The biggest noteworthy of these features being the Route Creator, where you can make your course just the way you want, race it, and even play it with your friends over Xbox Live. You start by choosing the city and it gives you an overview of all the city roads. Picking the start line will get you going right into the good parts where you can pick any road to use, the corners to take, all exactly how you want to race. You are free to make any style of track you want, whether it is a point to point or a circuit race, or even a long straight drag race to finally prove which of your friend’s car is superior in horsepower.
Another great feature is the Photo mode, where you can walk around your garage of all your cars, and freely able to take pictures how you want. There are camera settings for zoom, tilt, height, free movement, focus, shutter speed, brightness, contrast, even sepia. It’s not completely open to take it always exactly how you want, but it certainly does the job. The real exciting part of the Photo Mode feature is that you are able to take a picture of your car whenever you like just by pausing the game. This can lead to some really amazing pictures of you overtaking someone on the inside while sliding almost along the wall, or even with all four wheels off the ground getting some air. Factor in the ability to move the camera freely, and you can turn into quite the photographer. One of the games achievements is to take a picture of your car in every city, so definitely spend the time and play with this great feature. The only complaint I have about this is that there is no ability to share or post your photo’s online somewhere, so you can only share them on your with your friends. Adding an online gallery of sorts with rankings would have been a great addition.
Bizarre clearly had Xbox Live in mind when developing PGR 3, and it clearly shows with the robust online features it contains. While playing single player offline, when you finish tracks it automatically uploads your times and scores and places it into the rankings and before you exit out, shows you where you are in the world’s ranking for your efforts. Think that you are the best in the world on a certain track with your car? Go online, download anyone’s ghost car and race against it to see how you really stack up against the best in the world. You are not limited to the top 10 or 100 people either. If your placed 300th place and the guy that’s ahead of you in ranking has somehow beat your time by a long shot, you can watch their race or choose to race his ghost to see how it was done. One key element in this feature is that you can watch the replay and learn from it, but you can watch it from any angle you choose. If you play in the 3rd person view and want to know how to take a certain turn like the best do, watch in that view. If you use the @!%#*!pit view, you can even watch the whole thing like that if you wish to learn from the best to better hone your skills.
This is where Gotham TV also comes into place. You can see who’s racing online from the leader boards, tune into Gotham TV, and watch in real time; races that they are competing in at that very moment. Of course you have the ability to change to any racer, and any camera angle you wish as well. Play online enough and your TRUESKILL ranking will go up, which is how the game determines who to pair you with, much like Halo 2’s ranking system. Get good enough and you may even appear on the Hero’s Channel on Gotham TV that showcases the best in the world. Having been on Gotham TV numerous times myself, I can tell you that it adds a pressure factor knowing that thousands of people could be watching how great or poorly you race.
To combat cheating by only racing with your friends and working your way up the leader boards that way, Bizarre has made it so you have no choice for your competitors. While not being able to race along your friends for rankings, I haven’t found it to be a huge issue. Another measure they have taken to detour people that cheat by learning one course and just raving that one over and over to improve rankings, is by picking what cl@!%#*! of cars you want to race, not the course. Each cl@!%#*! then has a random choice of a number of maps which are suited for that cl@!%#*! of car. It’s a far from perfect system, but its wonderful having a variety of random maps when earning for your online profile.
One huge difference to keep I mind when playing online, is that you are playing real people that can and usually will do what it takes to win. More often than not you will race against the kind of competitor that will side swipe you just before a turn, making you spiral out of control into a wall at 200mph, and this is to be expected, but when you do have a race where everyone is respectable of each other and won’t crash people into walls for the sake of making a turn, it makes such a memorable online experience. Feedback is there for a reason, and so are the zones that you choose to play online, so prepare for the dirty racers that will take any means necessary to win. One word to the wise is to avoid going into the first turn of a track online with everyone else, as it’s very seldom that you will come out with your clean slide and getaway.
Load times are slightly more than usual, but can get annoying and tedious when restarting races and waiting for it to load all over again. For the visuals this game puts out, I find it’s reasonable; mind you I’m not sure what they would be like without the Hard Drive.
The one feature that this game has that makes it stand out visually is the @!%#*!pit view. We aren’t talking your normal view where you can see the steering wheel and maybe a rear view mirror, this is much more, and shows off what the 360 is more than capable of. Instead, this is inside the @!%#*!pit where you see your steering wheel, you see your hands gripping the wheel and shifting, the rear view mirror, the speedometer, your tachometers, and anything else that is actually authentic to the car you are racing. That is until you flick the right stick which acts as if you were turning your head inside the view. So you actually have to move the right stick left or right to check your side mirrors to see if someone is trying to overtake you. It’s the next step in realism, and overtime I found myself looking at the dash for my speed rather than the overlaying HUD. With each car being an accurate depiction of what the car is actually like to sit inside, it’s difficult to not be impressed, and finding yourself learning all different kind of blind spots. For a truly unique experience, choose the McLaren F1 and race in this view. Since the bucket seat in this car is directly in the middle and not on the side, it’s as close as you will ever get to racing one.
Lights, shadows and reflections will all bend and deform around the hood and windshield of your car, and this is the most obvious when you are using the in-dash view. First time seeing this came should make you impressed with what is possible now in next-gen systems. While you corner, slide, and brake hard, your camera will shake and blur depending on your velocity and force you can going into turns. This again is most apparent when using the @!%#*!pit view. Where the game does not inherently feel as fast as a Burnout title, the speed sense you have while in-dash is quite astounding, and you don’t always see the corner come us as early as you would like.
PGR 3 showcases HDR (High Dynamic Range) lighting which gives a more realism effect. The easiest and more of the impressive examples I can give is that when you come out of a tunnel and back into sunlight, you will have a second of bright light everywhere as if your eyes were adjusting to coming out of the dark like in real life. It’s just one more step closer to realism, and while subtle, it works perfectly. My only wish is that you could choose to turn the HUD completely off so that I couldn’t see a turn coming out of the tunnel on my map, rather than trying to see it coming at me 200mph while my eyes adjust to the sun.
Overlooked aspects in PGR 3’s graphics are definitely the background and layout. Most games will save space and look great while racing, but if you ever stopped and looked at trees or the crowd while still, they were usually animated 2D cutouts. Those are long gone now this generation, with fully 3D pedestrians watching the race, and fully lush trees. They have many more animations than any other racing game I have seen will even take pictures of you as you go by with the flash of their camera’s going off. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s so much improved that it’s very noticeable.
On a bright side, there is damage modeling, but it feels as if it’s almost a cop out and just in there because. The most you can really do to your car is bend your bumpers and spoiler, and crack your mirrors and windshield; regardless that you are going over 200mph into a wall head on. It is hard to drive with no mirrors using the @!%#*!pit view, and does add that want to keep your car in pristine condition, but sadly it’s purely a cosmetic addition, it does not affect your cars performance in any way. The damage does look great, but personally I wish it had more much like Toca 2 did.
Visually, this game is easily one of my top choices for 360’s launch titles. It’s very impressive, and with an HDTV it looks even better. It’s not something that absolutely screams next-gen, but you will be very impressed when you see it for the first time.
Not being much of a car guy, I didn’t really realize that there could be so many different sounds for a car braking at different speeds, different engines revving, tires squealing depending on your speed, and the differences of them depending on your position to the car.
Every car does sound different, and not just the engine sounds. Like said above, anything you do with the car, will sound unique for that car. If you played enough, and had your 5.1 surround sound set up, knew the cars sounds well enough, you would be able to tell if my McLaren F1 was coming up behind you on your right just by the sound of my motor pushing itself trying to overtake you. Yes, it is that impressive and distinct. Something else I wasn’t expecting was that the sound will also differ depending on if you are using the 3rd person views, or the @!%#*!pit. Inside your car, your engine will sound incredibly more mean with your sub woofer turned high up, where as the outer views you will hear the squealing of your tires as well but from a distance.
PGR 3 offers a soundtrack that will cater to almost everyone. You are given the choice of 9 different music genres that you can change on the fly. Pressing up or down on your D-Pad will change between the genres differing from Rock, Electronica, Hip Hop, Industrial, Bhangra, J-Pop, and even Cl@!%#*!ical. Once you find the style of music you want, simply hit left or right on the D-Pad to choose different songs in that genre. This is all great and there should be something in there you will enjoy, but obviously playing your own play lists and music through the 360 dashboard is much more preferred
There are so many modes and extra features that PGR 3 offers that even non racing enthusiasts will want this title. Bizarre has created an extraordinary launch title, and this is not one to be p@!%#*!ed up. Need that final reason to buy a HDTV or simply justify your 360 purchase? This is that reason.
Gameplay – 8.6
Visuals – 9.0
Sound – 10
Overall – 9.2
Overall: 86 %
Gameplay: 90 %
Graphics: 100 %
Sound: 92 %
Date reviewed: July 29, 2006.
Overall: Perhaps the most anticipated racing game ever released.
There was a lot of hype, and ultra high expectations for this title, but did it live up to them?
In many ways, PGR3 takes the "if it aint broke, don´t fix it" approach, which is far from a bad thing.
We see the return of the acclaimed Kudos points, awarded for combining skilled driving patterns and routines. As with last time we use those points as a virtual currency to buy newer and better cars. Xbox live is back, and better than ever, and the loved city track racing returns with amazingly detailed cities, challenging routes... and more promissed for the great XBL download service.
The gameplay is pretty similar to previous PGR titles, though there are major graphical improvements, and fun added features to offline and online mode.
It´s an involving game, easy to get used to and difficult to master. It will keep the casual gamers involved, and the most hardcore racing fanatics hammering their sexy wireless controllers for hours.
PGR3 can be summed up as captivatingly beautiful.
While it is an obviously fantastic game, there are some let-downs - there are some people who have suffered bugging while trying to connect to events on XBL, and a racing career mode that seems slightly anonymous.. though these are very slight issues, and don´t take an inch away from this games greatness.
Gameplay: As said before, the gameplay is very similar. There are a few different views to add to the dramatic sense of realism.
Handling is semi arcade, unique... and, well.. just perfect.
Offline mode is involving, but there´s no major sense of identity. The garage mode, and sexy country house are just some of the worthwhile rewards to your hectic racing... but of course, Xbox Live is where it´s at. it´s never felt better to wipe the floor with Crazy american car dudes, and North english maniacs.
Graphics: Here´s where the major difference between any other PGR game and this one stands.
Huge graphical improvements are seen, in every form.
Added HD lighting, (makes light forms react as the eye would see them) great bumb mapping, normal mapping all the latest and greatest graphical candy is on show here.
The cars look stunning, every reflection and shadow reacts with its shape. The new Camera system is great to really check out the scenery.
Every track is littered with photo realistic buildings, and objects. this time we see people on the side of the tracks, they are fully 3d, and react to your movements in the cars.
Motion blurr, pefectly detailed roads, and an all new and spectacular In-car view really pump up the realism level.
The problem is with all this amazing detail to take in, you´ll find yourself crashing because you decided to look at the reflections on the side of your car!
Though next to perfect, there are still a few off perfect graphical niggles... Well, 2 to be exact, and the only 2 I can think of are the Trees and the detail distance.
Firstly the trees are generally ugly, and copies - and overall just don´t match up the the detail of the scenery around them. Nothing major, but enough to annoy a perfectionist like myself. Secondly, and lastly the detail distance. Not a major problem, but detail in certain objects is blurred until it reaches a certain distance in front of the car. (probably for processor purposes) This is all well and good, and used in most games - though on certain surfaces, like roads it is overly obvious at times.
These 2 very slight problems are the only things that stop the game scoring full points in the graphical department, though you can rest assured that PGR3 is a new graphical standard for any games to come on the 360.
Sound: Perfect. I can´t think of a thing wrong with the sound, environmental sounds are spot on, in game music is a fantastic feature... but why would you want music when you could listen to the spot on roar of your brand new mustang?
Overall: 90 %
Gameplay: 90 %
Graphics: 90 %
Sound: 100 %
Date reviewed: April 27, 2006.
Overall: PGR 3 is the most realistic racing game on the Xbox 360. However there isn?t that much of a difference from the last installment.
Gameplay: Very fun racing game, and ultra realistic. The vehicles act just as they would in real-life. The controls are very good.
Graphics: Wow, is all I have to say. The environments are so detailed and big, its absolutely amazing. The cars are so close to there real-life counterparts it makes you feel like your actually in the real car.
Sound: The engine sounds and the music in this game are very well done, good job Bizarre Creations for making this amazing game.
Overall: 100 %
Gameplay: 100 %
Graphics: 100 %
Sound: 100 %