Project Gotham Racing 2 will
keep you busy for months. Unlocking all of the cars and winning all of
the single player races takes ages, and the addictive Kudos system will
keep you coming back to try and beat your top scores. For people with
Xbox LIVE the game can potentially last even longer since you can
compete online and even download ghosts of the best times on each track
so you can see how well you stack up. And underneath all of the features
and options, the racing itself is extremely well done, and it is simply
a joy to play this game. PGR2 is awesome and deserves a spot in just
about any Xbox owners collection.
The actual racing itself in
PGR2 isnt all that different from other games in the genre. The cars
all handle fairly well and it is pretty easy to drive however you want.
What PGR2 does differently is that it asks you to drive with style in
order to rack up points known as Kudos. You earn Kudos for passing other
cars, sliding around corners, catching air, and completing sections of
the track without taking any damage, among other things. You use these
Kudos points to unlock new cars, and it is always fun going back to
races you have already completed and trying to beat your best Kudos
score in order to earn more points so you can pick up that new Ferrari
you had your eye on.
single player mode in Project Gotham Racing 2 is the Kudos World Series.
This mode is organized into different car classes with each class having
several races to choose from. There are over a hundred races in all and
it is a good bet that you will run some of the races several times, so
there is a ton of stuff to do. Something that I absolutely love is that
you can choose the difficulty level you want before each and every race.
This ensures that you can constantly advance through the game and not
get too frustrated when you come to a race that you cant seem to win.
Each difficulty setting changes the requirements to complete that
particular race (you dont always have to win in order to move on) and
you will get different Kudos bonuses depending on what difficulty you
are on. New classes are opened up only when you beat the one before it,
so it is nice to be able to open up everything on easier difficulties
and then go back to races on the harder difficulties later on.
are several different types of races that the game will throw at you in
the Kudos World Series. Time trials and hot lap races pit you against
the clock as you try to beat your best lap and race times. In street
races youll compete with between 3 and 7 computer-controlled drivers.
Cone challenges place a number of checkpoints on the track that you have
to pass through in order to rack up Kudos and reach a certain score.
Speed challenges require you to reach a certain speed before you come to
a "speed camera" located at the end of the track. All of these modes are
a lot of fun and give the game a lot of variety
modes found in PGR2 include an arcade mode and time trials and also a
fun option called instant action. Arcade mode gives you a predetermined
car on a track and it is up to you to win. Time trials see you trying to
beat your best time on each track. The instant action mode randomly
selects a car and a track and lets you jump right into a race. You have
to complete the arcade and time trial modes along with the Kudos World
Series in order to fully finish off the game, so in short, there is a
lot to do.
are over 100 different licensed cars in PGR2, and all of them are exact
models of their real life counterparts. There are classic sports cars,
American muscle cars, high performance cars and many others to choose
from. Manufacturers include Ferrari, Porsche, Chevrolet, Dodge,
Mitsubishi, Subaru, Mazda, and many, many others. A cool feature in PGR2
is that you can visit a virtual showroom and walk around in a first
person view and look at all of the cars in the game. Even better is that
more cars will be made available in the future through Xbox LIVE. The
car list is already pretty impressive, but Im looking forward to what
new cars well get to play with.
tracks in PGR2 are extremely well done and there are over a hundred of
them in all. The races take place in more than 10 different cities such
as Sydney, Tokyo, and Washington D.C. with each city having a large
number of different track layouts. The track design is uniformly
excellent and there are a lot of different styles of tracks, ranging
from tracks with lots of sharp corners to lots of hills to oval races.
everything about Project Gotham Racing 2 is perfect, however. The AI
isnt all that interesting in that no matter what difficulty level you
play on they always follow the same line and rarely deviate from it. If
you do happen to get in their way, the AI cars will bump the back end of
your car and cause you to spin out about 90% of the time. This is
annoying but it forces you to be a better driver, so it isnt that big
of a problem. Another small annoyance is that the nighttime races are
almost too dark. You literally cant see anything beyond your headlights
and it is frustrating to have to feel your way around a track while the
AI cars are just breezing through it. It would have been as much of a
problem had the races occurred on tracks you had seen before, but more
often than not new tracks were introduced during nighttime races. Other
than these couple of annoying things about the game, pretty much
everything else is a racing fans dream.
have Xbox LIVE, the game gets even bigger and better. Whether you are
competing against other people online or not, your best lap times and
Kudos scores are automatically compared to the best in the world on a
scoreboard that is constantly updated. It is fun to race just to try and
beat the best scores in the world. Online races run very smoothly and
give you lots of options so you shouldnt ever feel outmatched if you
havent opened up the best cars in the game yet. Your Kudos scores
online count towards your overall total as well, and there are some
races that can net you huge amounts of Kudos, so it is even easier to
unlock all of the best cars if you can compete in both the offline and
online game. Project Gotham Racing 2 still offers a ton of things to do
if you dont have LIVE, but there are a lot of little extras in here for
subscribers that make it an even more worthy purchase for them.
graphics in PGR2 are excellent. The cars are very detailed right down to
the manufacturer emblems. Likewise, the environments you race in are
incredibly realistic and are varied enough from city to city that you
can easily tell where in the world you are just by the way the buildings
around you look. The lighting effects are particularly impressive
because everything looks so realistic. Headlights look like headlights.
Streetlights look like streetlights. And it is really exceptional
looking when you pull up a hill out of the darkness of city streets and
it is still daylight on top of the hill. Some of the races can get a
little too dark, but overall the lighting isfantastic. I wont go so far
as to say PGR2 is the best looking racing game ever, but it certainly
does look very good.
The sound isnt quite as impressive, but it is
still very good overall. There are over 200 songs on the game soundtrack
that span pretty much every genre imaginable, so it is hard not to like
the selection. Each of the cities has three unique radio stations where
the DJs actually speak in the language of that particular city. This is
an amazing touch that adds a lot to the audio portion of the game. You
can also use your own custom soundtracks if you want. Where the audio
fails for me is in the sounds of the cars themselves. There are lots of
different engine sounds, but none of them sound quite right. Other than
that, though, the sound is great.
If you are looking for a new Xbox game, Project
Gotham Racing 2 is a solid purchase. The racing is incredibly fun and
the sheer number of cars, tracks, and race types ensures that you will
be playing PGR2 for a long time to come. The game gets even more
addictive if you connect to Xbox LIVE, but it isnt required for an
amazing gaming experience. This is an exceptional value for the $50
investment. Rent it first if you must, but youll most likely end up
purchasing it anyway. Project Gotham Racing 2 is simply one of the best
racing games on the market today.
Eric Qualls (12/14/2003)