937th played so far

Genre: Racing
Platform: Xbox 360
Year of Release: 2005
Developer: Bizarre Creations
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

It feels like Microsoft has had the lead in racing games for the past fifteen years, if not more. We’ve played a few Forza games, which are Xbox or Microsoft platform exclusive, and the Project Gotham Racing comes in set in real cities – starting with Metropolis Street Racer, one of those situations where the developers move to a different console, doing the same thing without being able to say that.

The series hasn’t lasted past the fourth installment, which I guess isn’t quite as good as it was released in time for the list but didn’t make it on after all.

Our Thoughts

I don’t know where the world is by the time this post goes up or even more when you read this, but as I write this we are deep in another Covid lockdown and even living in outer London, I haven’t seen the city itself in ages. The one time we went it was for a shopping trip (as was allowed) but the sights we did see came from deserted streets. It made the first city you visit in this game, London, a lot more interesting. I know it recently got a great recreation in Watch Dogs Legion and got a historical one in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, but seeing it in a list game felt suitably impressive.

And sure, I’ve tried to drive up Wardour Street as an alternative to Piccadilly Circus, but there’s something quite reassuring driving through parts of Westminster down streets I’ve walked down regularly. The speeds at which I was racing down were still too much for me to make sure I did so safely, but it was a weirdly nice feeling when I was able to cover part of a past daily commute in the game. It’s obviously not quite the same, but it feels close enough to work. Even nicer was that the game has a custom race mode that allows you to plot your own races through, which helped both with some sightseeing and to see some different modes for myself.

Now, I can’t judge the other cities’ accuracy quite as well, as I’m not as familiar with the parts of New York that were modeled and our time in Tokyo wasn’t spent on the same level as where the races take place, but they, too, feel right.

The game itself feels quite accessible. The easier difficulties actually feel easier and accessible – not to the extent that you pass everything, but you get a good enough shot at making your goals, and enough wiggle room so you can continue with the occasional failure or mode you struggle to beat. While the game obviously has standard races, it also has other challenges. We’ve seen reaching speeds at the right point in other games like Test Drive Unlimited, but I don’t recall seeing an overtaking challenge before – where the number of cars you overtake is what matters, and overtaking the ‘leader’ wins you the challenge. It’s a nice variation on the way these games play.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, Project Gotham Racing 3‘s representation of London isn’t the main thing that happens, but at the moment it felt like a nice extra thing to have. What the game really provides is a solid racing game that caters to multiple skill levels and feels fun to play, with a variety you might not think you’d see in the relatively constrained maps. The fact that you can build your own races in these areas quite easily helps with that, and I can see how a larger community feel can grow around that.