At the moment, it looks like I'll be strung up by my thumbs if I start a review of an Xbox360 title without mentioning the "graphical leap" factor. Honestly, the fascination with how big and how far graphics have come from the Xbox days is beyond me, but here we go none the less. "You have to see it in motion," shouldn't just be the new mantra of the new next-generation, but the rallying cry of every owner of a next-generation console, be it Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
Project Gotham Racing 3 is a game that has been unfairly labeled "PGR2.5" by those who've seen mere screenshots. Why? There's a subtle motion blur, but unlike in past racing games this blur isn't just wiped all over the screen, instead objects blur in relation to where they are to the car. This motion blur which I've never seen captured by any trailers adds a strange feeling of realism and a heavy dose of "sense of speed" to PGR3.
The special effects employed by PGR3, which includes such exotic eye candy as high dynamic range lighting effects and more reflections than your father's turtle wax ever showed, look solid even on my boring old 24-inch, non-HD TV. How anyone could reasonably say that this game looks just like PGR2 on a regular TV is beyond this reviewer, but if you do happen to hook it up to a 45-inch high-def DLP running in 720p? Well then you'd best have some paper napkins on hand, because this substance called "drool" will be rushing down your chin.
Enough graphical gushing for now
The gameplay of PGR3 remains relatively unchanged save for the obvious impact of the new marketing line, "life begins at 170 mph." There are no Mini Coopers to chase like mice in this title, but I haven't met a person yet who's complained about having 80 high end sports cars to race. Besides we finally get Lamborghinis!
How the 360 controller feels when racing these exotic sports cars is where the real joy of Project Gotham Racing 3 is found. Once again, the clever Brits at Bizarre Creations have created a game where real world data makes each car handle both uniquely and realistically; but at the same time every car is capable of mad drifting. This mixture of simulation and arcade style racing isn't for everyone, but I've never met anyone who says it wasn't fun to throw these cars around the ‘ring.
An interesting gameplay change was made to how cars are unlocked. Instead of earning kudos points for stylish racing and earning the right to buy new cars every couple of thousand kudos; all cars (except concepts) are "unlocked" right at the beginning of the game. Collecting all your favorite sports cars is now based on how well you earn credits and not beating lap times.