"Although Project Gotham Racing is one of my favorite Xbox games, I know that thereís plenty of room for improvement. After two years of solid playing Iíve accumulated more than five hundred thousand total kudos, earned gold medals on the hardest races, and unlocked everything that the game has to offer. But with that being said Iím also aware that it isnít for everyone. To accomplish this goal I had to go through several hours of frustration that wouldíve caused most gamers to quit. In the matte..."
Although Project Gotham Racing is one of my favorite Xbox games, I know that thereís plenty of room for improvement. After two years of solid playing Iíve accumulated more than five hundred thousand total kudos, earned gold medals on the hardest races, and unlocked everything that the game has to offer. But with that being said Iím also aware that it isnít for everyone. To accomplish this goal I had to go through several hours of frustration that wouldíve caused most gamers to quit. In the matter of fact all of this struggling only earned me twenty-nine cars. I can acquire more than that in Sonyís Gran Turismo by pressing start. But it was still one hell of a game.
Thankfully Bizarre Creations didnít change the core gameplay with Project Gotham Racing 2. The basic premise is the same: The goal isnít always to get first place, but to earn points known as kudos for sliding around corners, getting air, passing opponents, driving through cones, and more. But this isnít necessarily a bad thing, since more of the original game in this case is a blessing. However the hours of frustration and lack of rewards is not. Luckily PGR2 doesnít fall into the ďtoo similar to the firstĒ trap. It isnít anything that I havenít done before, but itís deeper, much more accessible, and still to this day one of the very best multiplayer experiences on Xbox.
The first thing a PGR vet will notice is that PGR2 is much bigger than the first. The several smaller gameplay modes that were present in the first game have been combined into one, giant mode that features more challenges than ever before. Every challenge in the original is present, plus a few new ones such as speed camera, which requires you to pass through a camera at a certain top speed. Thereís also an arcade mode in which you will attempt one of three different challenges on a pre-selected course with a pre-selected car. Itís helpful if youíre trying to build up your total kudos, but compared to the main kudos challenge mode it feels tacked on and uninspired.
The game is bigger in other areas as well. The original only had twenty-nine cars, but PGR2 has well over 100 from the most renowned manufacturers in the world, including Ford, Ferrari, BMW, Porsche, and much more. They are unlocked by purchasing them with ďkudos tokensĒ, which are earned by achieving certain levels of kudos. This works much better compared to the completing challenges to unlock cars system present in the first game. With this you can unlock whatever you want whenever you want, and you donít need to worry about spending hours and hours on a single stage to earn a gold medal in order to unlock the best car so youíre not lagging behind the competition.
PGR2ís ability to appeal to everyone is what makes it so much greater than the first. You are given five difficulty levels for each challenge ranging from novice to expert. Playing on an easier difficulty will earn you enough kudos to unlock one or two great cars in each class so you can get by, and going for all platinum/gold medals will give you enough kudos so you can unlock any car. This is why the game is so awesome Ė if you want you can just get by on easy and only purchase one or two cars per stage or you can unlock everything that the game has to offer. This will satisfy both newcomers to the series/genre as well as racing vets craving for a challenge.
This isnít the only aspect that was improved. One of the worst parts of the original game was how you could rack up a huge combo and lose it by gently touching a wall. Constantly restarting the game because of this was very annoying. Luckily PGR2 completely changed this. Now if you tap a wall you might just lose your bonus kudos from a combo, or maybe even fewer, depending on how hard you hit the wall (ramming into a wall at 100 mph will cost you everything). Obviously itíll be hard to ace each challenge, but if youíre just plowing your way through everything than achieving everything isnít your goal. At the same time vets will be stuck restarting, which isnít a bad thing to them at all.
Besides the larger size and more friendly difficulty there are a number of old and new features included in PGR2 that make the game so awesome. First of all the excellent AI is back and is just as good as ever. If you plan on winning on the higher difficulties you better come up with a plan on how to make your opponentís lives living hell, because if you donít theyíll do just that to you. I donít know how many times I was rammed into and spun out of control or passed while taking my time around hairpin turns. Basically if youíre not keeping your eye on the opponents at all times theyíll make you pay for it. If racing against computerized opponents isnít enough to you thereís also a great online mode included. Everything from exhibition races to kudos challenges are included with up to eight people per race and very little lag. Itís also possible to unlock cars via online as well as view the ghosts and scores of your friends and other people. So if youíre wondering how someone is constantly beating one of your times by thirty seconds you can simply view their ghost and try to imitate the pros!
Unfortunately the fact that PGR2 is very similar to the first game is its biggest weakness. Even though itís highly accessible the cars still handle with a very ďarcadishĒ feel, and the overall experience feels too similar to the first. Itís superior to the first in every way, but it seems like Iíve done everything before. There are also a few issues regarding the backgrounds and car damage, which is lacking compared to the gorgeous automobiles. But with all that being said Project Gotham Racing 2 is still an amazing game. It is better than the first one in every way possible, and although it sticks to the same basic formula that the first game and Metropolis Street Racer did, itís improved accessibility and depth makes it a must have racer that everyone should own, regardless of your previous opinion of the series.
Community review by Halon (November 28, 2007)
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