Project Gotham Racing 2

Review

posted 12/9/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: Xbox
When Project Gotham Racing came out for the Xbox as a launch title I didn’t know what to expect. I had devoted a significant amount of time to Bizarre Creations’ Metropolis Street Racer for the Dreamcast but I have to admit, I was expecting a tech demo that would show off the power of the Xbox and not the fantastic racer that I received. Earlier this year I saw Project Gotham 2 at Microsoft’s pre-E3 press conference and I excited about the franchise all over again. I had a renewed interest in what Microsoft was offering us later this year and for a brief moment, Gran Turismo 4 took a back seat in my mind. Now I’ve had the chance to put Project Gotham 2 through its paces and I must admit that I’m quite impressed by what I’ve seen.

Not just a lazy incremental upgrade, Project Gotham 2 comes out with all barrels firing. It’s readily apparent that the guys on the team spent a copious amount of time to ensure that their hardcore fan base wouldn’t be disappointed by the lack of changes from iteration to iteration. Just what is there to appreciate about this new entry? In one word, plenty. PGR2’s car roster makes PGR1’s roster look puny in comparison. Now you’ll be able to step into the driver’s seat of more than 100 of the world’s most popular and renowned vehicles, all of which have been recreated to their real world specifications. If that’s not enough you’ll get to race on an entirely new set of tracks, not a bunch of rehashes from last year’s game. Still not enough to chew your teeth on? Those of you who can’t get enough of the vehicles will be glad to know that you can get up close and personal with these beauties in the new Showroom and Garage modes. Of course there’s the highly touted Xbox Live mode that you’ve been hearing about on the numerous commercials that play throughout the day. Indeed, it is good to play together.

Like PGR1, the game’s core career mode has you racing in various types of events in pursuit of medals. However, unlike the first game, you now choose which goal you’re going for. You’ll participate in a number of different race types as you make your way through the various series. There’s the straight-up Street Race where you race on a track against a number of opponents, the One-On-One where you have to beat an opponent in a race, the Hot Lap where you’ll have to finish a lap within a specified time, the Cone Challenge where you’ll drive through cones to earn Kudos and the Overtake where you have to overtake a number of vehicles in a set period of time. In addition to these the game adds a new mode which challenges you to pass through a speed camera at a designated speed. It sounds pretty neat in theory but it’s rather boring and pointless in execution.

The game’s career mode is divided up by car classification. When you begin you’ll race on easier tracks with some of the game’s slower vehicles. Upon completing that series of races you’ll move up to the next level and so forth. Your primary motivation in this mode, and the rest of the game, is to earn Kudos through racing. When you earn a certain amount of Kudos you’ll “level up” and earn Kudos tokens that can be used to unlock more power vehicles. When you step into a new class you’ll generally have two vehicles at your disposal. It’s feasible to complete the courses with the slower starting vehicles but unlocking the faster beauties will definitely make your life a whole lot easier.

At first I was very pleased with the career mode’s pacing but as the game wore on I began to feel more indifferent to it. Starting off you’ll have to finish about six or seven races in order to move up to the next class. I loved this pacing as it made me really want to stick with the game to see what new vehicles would become available to me. This all changed when I reached the halfway point of the game. When you get to the mid-level classes you’ll have to complete about 10 races while the latter classes ask you to complete about 15-20 tasks. It’s fun to drive around and all but when a game has a roster this large and prominent, one has to understand that the primary allure here is to unlock newer and more expensive beauties, not drive the same cars over and over again. Also, having mixed classes where vehicles from different types would race against each other could have helped as well.
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