Project Gotham Racing 3 - Xbox 360

Based around five locations across the world including New York, Tokyo, London, Las Vegas and the Nurburgring, PGR3 brings back some of the classic tracks from its original arcade incarnation - Metrolopolis Street Racer that first debuted on the failed Sega Dreamcast in 2000.

However now, utilising the Xbox360's huge potential the graphics are more refined and considerably better.

Gameplay is as solid as ever, with little change over PGR2 in how you control your car. Gamers are able to select a series of races or venture into a career mode. Races vary between the need to come first and the need to prove you’ve got enough Kudos to score big with other drivers.

As before, speed alone will not win this race. PGR3 rewards the best drivers for their ability to execute bold moves as they race. Called Kudos, there are over 16 different kinds that will earn you points and include powersliding, pulling off a 360, getting airtime, staying on the race line, drafting and getting up on two wheels.

Understanding that every new Xbox360 owner will have the possibility to connect into the Xbox Live service from day one, PGR3 follows the heavy focused tradition of PGR2 and offers gamers a host of online features and downloads.

The game includes something the developers have titled GothamTV, a option in game that allows you to watch the top players in the world on live news feeds, get live ticker information when friends break records, and compete with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

With thousands of worldwide players, a plethora of tracks and a over 80 authentically modelled and licensed supercars from manufacturers such as Ferrari, Dodge and Lamborghini you can see the long-term appeal to any car racing fan here.

The thought of setting out to climb the ranks and become the best in the world will be too great a temptation for some to avoid.

But as we’ve said, the gameplay isn’t what’s new here and Microsoft, with PGR3 and its other launch titles, has played their part hoping to woo gamers with familiarity rather than any wacky idea they might be working on.

What really makes this game next-generation, is the graphics and presentation. Whether it’s the visually punchy menu screens or the in-game graphics everything has that luscious graphical sheen that you only get when you venture to the next generation of consoles. It’s the same glow that we all raved about when Microsoft launched the original Xbox and I am sure we will do the same for the next model as well. As with all the games PGR3 is HD ready and glistens at 720p or 1080i. It's still pretty in 480p, but the higher definition settings, as you would expect, make a world of difference.

Tyres smoke, sparks fly on collision and clouds are beautifully reflected across the shiny cars as they whiz around the course laid out before them.

As with previous versions the odd glimpse of Big Ben or other famous landmarks around the cities really give you a sense of being there and the game's developers have made sure that this time around there are plenty of crowds, all motion-captured, to cheer you along as you race past them at break-neck speed.

Verdict

So what's the end result? With PGR2 conveniently left off the backwards compatibility list, you'll have to upgrade if you want to carry on playing without having to get out your old console each time. The improvements are slight, but that doesn't mean this isn't a good game. Far from it, and as racers go, there is plenty of life in PGR3 both on and off-line.

One of the more solid, but less adventurous titles. We've seen it all before, but if you like cars this is a sure-fire hit.