Project Gotham Racing 2 Review

As a game reviewer you play a lot of games. A lot of games get their playtest time and then are shelved and forgotten once their review is written. However, there are some games that you want to keep playing and playing, games that a part of you does not want to review because that means that it is time to move on to another game. Project Gotham Racing 2 (PGR2) is one of those games, and has earned a rare and coveted place on the stack of games that will be played again the first break I get in my review schedule.

Hot cars in exotic locations.

PGR2 is simply a blast to play. The game is not revolutionary by any means, but it does a great job of getting all aspects of play right and expertly tying them together. And if you’re an Xbox Live subscriber then you’re in for a real treat. In PGR2, Xbox Live is more than just a venue for matching players for multiplayer races - if you are hooked up when you start the game up, PGR2 makes Xbox Live an integral part of the gameplay experience. But more on that later, first let’s take a look at the basics.

PGR2 is a street racing game, pure and simple. You get a lot of real-world cars in a whole slew of classes that include compacts, exotics, muscle cars, and even SUVs. There are 14 classes in all, and over 100 different cars.  Each car is rated on speed, acceleration, handling, and its ability to make a controlled slide around corners, and you’ll really notice the difference in handling between different cars – even among those in the same class. The game goes for an arcade-like sim experience, if that makes any sense. Think of it as a game that features more realistic handling than an arcade racer and that is more forgiving than a true sim and you’ll get the idea. This means that most gamers will have no trouble getting their Mini Cooper around tight city streets, but it will take some skill and practice before you can handle a Porsche at 140 MPH without fishtailing around bends or slamming into the guardrails around corners. If you’re one of those players that will probably hit a lot of stationary objects while driving then you’ll be happy to hear that the game takes a decidedly arcade tact when it comes to modeling damage. Cars show very little damage considering the speeds at which they hit objects, and damaged cars seem to handle pretty much as well as those with no damage.

Now for the real racing - there are a variety of different race types in the game that will pit you against the track and your driving skills as well as other drivers. Of course you have the basic lap race in which you must beat computer-controlled racers over a set number of laps around a course, but other races require you to beat the clock on a closed course while maneuvering through a slalom course of traffic cones. There are also some challenges that you don’t see in most videogame racers. One requires that you pass a minimum number of other racers within a time limit. Another challenges you to get your car to certain speed before reaching the end of a short stretch of track. The variety of race types is a treat for the player and helps keep PGR2 from feeling repetitive as you make your way through the game. If you just want to get behind the wheel of a car and put it through its paces, you can do that as well. In a really nice touch, PGR2 makes a couple of cars in each class and a couple of tracks in each location available from the start of the game. You’ll need to beat all of the races to unlock everything, but at least you can still try out some of the top class cars without having to beat the game. All games should let you do this – why should only the top gamers get to drive the top cars when everybody has to pay just as much to buy the game?