Project Gotham Racing 2
If you like the racing games, and you like the Xbox Live, then buckle the f up. This is the best realistic (well, fairly realistic) racer since Gran Turismo 3, and in many ways, it's even more fun. PGR2 is also one of the first Xbox Live Aware titles, so not only can you play against random yahoos via Live, but you can also see how your scores for each single-player event stack up against the rest of the world. It's genius. The other genius part of PGR2 is the Kudos system, which rewards players for powerslides, overtaking rivals, and generally driving like your hair's on fire. It adds to the game an arcadey aspect that's missing from more hardcore sim racers--if you find Gran Turismo to be equal parts daunting and boring, you won't feel that way about PGR2. Of course, it wouldn't be a review without some bellyaching. The tracks (all based on real locations) are excellent...except when you're racing at night and it's so dark that you can't see the apex of the next turn. The biggest problem, though, is the prison-rules A.I. Doesn't seem like the owner/oper-ator of a Porsche 959 would be quite so zealous to punt you into the guardrail, but turns out he is. Computer-controlled cars are oblivious to your presence, and a lot of frustrating crashes result. Don't let that deter you, though--many events are solo or versus just one other car anyway, and when you go online, you'll find real people are just as cutthroat. Despite the flaws, PGR2 is brilliant.
PGR2 is the ultimate refinement of the formula Bizarre Creations has been working on since Metropolis Street Racer hit Dreamcast: Slick visuals, tight control, and that wacky Kudos system combine to form one helluva racer. Still, all this adds up to only a minor improvement upon the first PGR...except for the amazing new Xbox Live component. This online-all-the-time thing in PGR2 might sound like a lame gimmick, but it really adds immense replayability. Real-time scoreboards and ghost cars of the world's finest players will keep you playing the offline game, if only to get that coveted spot on the top 10 list. Not to mention the sense of competition it instills in you. What could be better than finding the No. 1 player online and kicking his ass in a race?
Online gaming is currently what sets Xbox apart from its competition, and PGR2 is the first title to take full advantage of what it means to be Live-enabled. Sure, series mainstays such as photo-realistic car models, flawless handling, and Kudos style points return in the sequel, but it's the total online integration that makes this the new standard to topple. As you progress through the game in solo fashion, your best times will constantly be posted on Xbox Live for all to worship and, ultimately, dethrone. So even as you play the game offline, you never feel alone in your need for speed. Since there's so much to rave about in Gotham, I'll just say this: You won't find a more value-packed racer anywhere--on any system.
Download Project Gotham Racing 2
Fishtailing is a good thing - air, drafting, two wheels, much better. Project Gotham Racing 2 is more about the artistry of dangerous driving than it is about smoking tires and blurring speeds. Like its predecessor, PGR2 is a superb racing game that leans more towards a fun, easy to play arcade feel than the tighter controls of a true racing simulator.
Although PGR 2 may initially feel like any other racing game you've ever played it won't be long before your massaging your control trying to squeeze out beautiful drifts, two wheeled turns and sly drafting passes. Not only are all of these tricks fun to watch and perform, they award Kudos, a point system that is at the heart of this truly original approach to racing. You earn Kudos by performing tricks without crashing into something right afterward, if you manage to string together a chain of tricks in a short period of time you get combo bonuses. The points you earn with tricks are added to points earned for your final place in the race and the whole shebang is tacked onto your Kudos total.
Get enough Kudos and you get tokens with which you can unlock new cars. It's a pretty cool way to track racing ability and dish out the game bonuses. Once all of the vehicles are unlocked you will have more than 100 from which to choose. The vehicles are lumped into 14 categories and run the gambit from the Mini-Cooper to the monster Mercedes ML55 AMG, to the sleek mostly street illegal Enzo Ferrari.
The game is also loaded with tracks, featuring 100 different streets courses to race on in 11 cities. The game also mixes the races up a bit by including day, night, clear weather and foul weather races. The game features a robust single player mode that constantly checks in with the online world to show how your racing skills compare.
All of this is great but it's the online play that truly makes this game a keeper, with a sleek interface that makes setting up an eight way race a breeze and tracks a whole different set of Kudo points. I don't usually go on about the music in a game, but this game features three radio stations per a city, each with their own local DJ, and more than 240 songs to choose from. You can also import your own music. The visuals are just as impressive with the type of detailed and textured graphics that will have you calling friends over to look.
Project Gotham Racing 2 is certainly the best racing game out there for the Xbox, what it lacks in high level racing realism it more than makes up for in sheer fun.