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Your rating: None

Players: 1-4
Custom Soundtrack
In-game Dolby Digital
System Link: 2-8 players
HDTV: 480p
Content Download
Online Multiplayer: 2-8 players
Voice
Friends
Scoreboard

Da Introduction

I remember my days with the Dreamcast and when Metropolis Racer, developed by Bizarre Creations, was released for Sega

Project Gotham Racing 2

 

Project Gotham Racing 2

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Xbox
Category: n/a
 
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Players: 1-4 Custom Soundtrack In-game Dolby Digital System Link: 2-8 players HDTV: 480p Content Download Online Multiplayer: 2-8 players Voice Friends Scoreboard Da Introduction I remember my days with the Dreamcast and when Metropolis Racer, developed by Bizarre Creations, was released for Sega’s console. I gave it a whirl and found it to be a frustrating title and hoped for more. Two and a half years later Bizarre Creations have refined this game to a tee, but it is on Microsoft’s Console and has a completely different name. Of course everyone knows that Project Gotham Racing has been on of the prettiest racers out there for the Xbox and its sequel, aptly titled Project Gotham Racing 2 (PGR2), has raised the bar for racers on the big black box. Da Graphics I feel that I am starting to repeat myself as first party games on the Xbox just kick ass and PGR2 is no different. This game is not just a great looking title but it falls into the realm of stellar. This game moves at a rock solid framerate while everything keeps its shine. There is ample use of such things as bump-mapping (editors note: take a look at the roads), shadowing, lighting and great use of reflections. The car models are very solid and there is no doubt a large chunk of polygons went to making sure the cars in the videogame mimick their real life counterpart to a tee. And, speaking of the cars, Microsoft made sure to allow damage modelling to be evident. You won’t find this aspect in any other officially licensed racers. Depending on who, or what you hit, cars will show such damage as dents, mufflers hanging of the rear of the car and hoods or trunks popping open as you go over bumps in the road. This is further testament to the level of detail in this game. Furthermore the racer inside the car is also animated as well. Look closely in the replays and you will see him shift gears, steer and even react to the force of a high speed turn. This was a cool addition indeed. The tracks are based on real life locales (Chicago, Washington, Scotland, Yokohama, Australia and Russia) and the scenery is just great. Each area is well modelled and very lifelike. For those questioning the accuracy of the tracks, I have raced with some people who live in some of the areas (at least in N. America) and they have all indicated that the buildings are where they are and that the surroundings are quite accurate. During the times I wanted to look at the scenery little details caught my eye. In Australia take a look in the harbour as boats pass by the Sydney Opera house and in Yokohama, watch the flocks of birds that fly in the sky above. Little things like this add to the game and many people may just take this for granted. Da Sound The sound in PGR2 further compliments the game. Each car sounds distinct and different. When racing in a pack of eight, each car sounds separate letting you know that you are racing in a field of many different cars. I cannot speak for the authenticity of all car sounds in the game because I have never heard a TVR 12 Speed in real life, but I assume it sounds like it does in the game. The use of Dolby Digital is also quite impressive. You can hear the cars both behind and ahead of you and as you pass them, or they pass you, they change speakers from front to back or vice versa. This was quite cool as I could hear the cars behind me only to look in my rear view mirror to see them bearing down on my location. This is especially fun while online too as you can even hear crashes that take place way behind you and you can mock those who are involved. Microsoft has taken much effort in terms of including good music in its latest first party titles, as evidenced from Amped 2. PGR2 is no different as it has a wide variety of music ranging from hip-hop to indie to electronica. I don’t know many of the groups included in this package of music but I did not find myself growing tired of any of the bands while I was playing through the game. For those who choose to play music only they like the use of custom soundtracks is included in this game as well. Da Gameplay Anyone who has played any of Bizarre Creations racing games knows that the staple of their title has been the Kudos system and this is no different in PGR2. For the uninitiated, Kudos are points that are awarded for driving with style. This includes, but is not limited to, drafting, good lines into corners, powerslides and overtaking other vehicles. The more style you drive with the more Kudos you are awarded each race. These Kudos points can be used to purchase more vehicles as you progress through the game. Now, when I first played the original Project Gotham Racing, I found that the Kudos system was unforgiving as even the slightest touch with either a wall or another vehicle resulted in the loss of all the Kudos you had earned to that point. This was frustrating as it forced one to race unscathed, something that was not easily done. However, the latest version of this series allows for some ‘forgiveness’. This time you are allowed to have contact with other racers and should you hit a wall, barrier or cone during anyone of the challenges, you only lose the points that you have accumulated in your Kudos buffer. This buffer allows you to earn multiple points through combos (e.g. overtake, drafting then a powerslide). This is a much better system in my eyes as it still allows drivers of all skill levels to play the game earn Kudos and not get frustrated. I think that Bizarre Creations is to be commended for recognizing all level of gamers this time around. As well, this ‘forgiveness’ also allows for all who play this game to progress through the tracks and have a chance to open up the higher levels and enjoy what the some of the better racers out there are racing. As with any racing title this game has both single player and multiplayer. The single placer game has been broken up into three main sections: Kudos World Series, Arcade Racing and Time Attack. The main hub of the game is the Kudos World Series. Here your races are broken up by car types (e.g. Compact Sport Series, Pacific Muscle, Ultimate). In each group you have a select few cars already open and there are a specific number of challenges within each class where you can earn one of five different medals (from steel to platinum). These challenges range from one on one racing to cone challenges. The higher the class you go, the more challenges there are. Arcade Racing is a series or challenges, either street racing or cone challenge, where the game assigns you a car to use in each challenge. You earn Kudos towards your overall points accumulated as you play the game; however, there is no bonus for finishing all of them except the addition to your overall Kudos score. Time Attack is self explanatory, you are given the chance to race any of the tracks you have opened and try to get the best time overall. Something that most gamers may find frustrating at times is the computer controlled AI. They have this inane habit of following a set line and as they do it, they do not recognize any other car out there. This can make it frustrating for two reasons. The first being that the amount of ‘banging’ you will find yourself doing is incredible as the computer controlled cars will hit you a number of times as you try to take the same line. At times you will even feel that the AI is blocking you on purpose, but don’t quit and you will find yourself on the winning end of many races. The second reason the AI is frustrating is that some races will seem out of reach as the computer controlled cars will run flawlessly taking only the best lines. This becomes evident when trying to earn platinum medals. Don’t get me wrong, they are not all impossible to win in platinum, but prepare to be frustrated on many occasions. As for multiplayer, Microsoft has made sure that PGR2 was tailored for its Xbox Live. Yes, you can race up to 4 players split screen or link up 8 other Xboxes via system link, however, the online play is where this game shines. You can race up to 8 other players from all over the world, full screen and voice chat included. During the many games I have played online to this date, I have noted very little lag. And, if you connection is not up to snuff, you screen still plays smooth, however, other onscreen racers will notice your vehicle popping in and out of view as you ‘lag-out’. This has been far and few between and Xbox Live handles this game beautifully. Speaking of Xbox Live compatibility, Microsoft has not only used their online service for racing other people. When you first fire up PGR2, you are asked to log into XBL. There is a reason for this. During your single player game PGR2 will always show you the leader boards for each and every race. And should you want to see how these people rose to the top of the pack you can watch their race or even download their ghost and race it until you find a way to do better. I can’t count the amount of times that I got a tip or two by watching the ghosts of those on top of the leader board. Microsoft has raised the benchmark for functionality of an online service for a racing title. Finally PGR2 is also compatible for downloadable content. Although there is nothing out yet and no indication of what, one can surmise that this will be in the form of new cars. Take a tour of the showroom and you will find three rooms that are empty and these rooms are titled “Xbox Live”. So put your wish list together and hope that the cars released only make this game even cooler. Da Conclusion Project Gotham Racing 2 is further evidence that Microsoft is making great strides in proving that the Xbox is a machine to be reckoned with. With graphics that shine and improved gameplay over the prequel this game rocks. Add to this package great online play and an innovative use of Xbox Live for downloading or watching the other racers on the leader boards and you have a very solid all around racer. This reviewer cannot see any reason not to award PGR2 the coveted Dagameboyz Players Choice Award.




 
 

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