We finish off Xbox Month with another game that was exclusive to the console. In fact, not only was this game an exclusive but it was second only to Halo: Combat Evolved when it came to overall sales during the lifetime of the console itself. So it is with a tinge of sadness, and a great amount of trepidation, that I admit to not really enjoying Project Gotham Racing.
It’s a shame, because I know this game is very popular and saw a lot of sequels. However, it falls into a category of game that I’ve just never been able to enjoy, that being “Racing Simulation that takes itself seriously”
I’ll level with you, I don’t find cars interesting. Like, at all. As a big sports fan, I was used to seeing people’s eyes glaze over when I used to talk about Everton’s recent results or how close The Ashes Series currently was, but I never really understood how those people felt. That was until I was locked in a confined space with a car nut and had to hear them wax lyrical about how the new Subaru Skyline Viper had a plutonium grade engine with seventy million break horse cart power and ambergris encased wheels.
I just cannot find cars interesting. To me, they exist only to transport me to work, the football, the shops and the occasional brothel. They are for parents to take screaming little terrors with sticky fingers to their place of education/containment, thus bringing the roads to a veritable land lock just at the same time I happen to want to nip out to Subway for a Chicken and Bacon on Honey Oat.
Cars represent dour normality, and it doesn’t matter how many nice paint jobs you give them or how loud you make their engines yelp on cue, whenever I have to talk about them it immediately becomes Snoresville.
This is why I’ve always been attracted to the Mario Karts, Ridge Racers and Burnouts of this world. Games where deriving fun from the actual racing itself is prioritised over whether you can get a new upgrade for your suspension or whether you can get your B license and then “enjoy” races that take literal hours to complete.
Games like Gran Turismo utterly baffle me. Hey, if you’re into those sorts of games then fair play to you, but to me I can’t think of anything less interesting. When I play a racing game; I want wacky power ups, insane speeds, incessant screen blurring and big wild crashes that cause your vehicle to crumple into a thousand gnarled pieces.
Essentially, I want a racing game that is pick up and play, the same way your average non football fan probably wants the same when it comes to a football game, which is probably why even when PES was by far the better game FIFA still regularly enjoyed more mainstream success despite being particularly awful for a large chunk of the 00’s.
Project Gotham Racing immediately threw me with its default control system, which involved accelerating using the right analogue stick. Though I have to commend developers Bizarre Creations for trying something new, this was such a thoroughly unintuitive way to control a car in a racing game that it immediately took away from the games accessibility. Thankfully, there is an option to amend the controls to a more recognisable scheme whereby you can accelerate with “A” and brake with “X”, which made it easier for me to adapt.
The controls themselves felt stiff and even with practice I didn’t find the game especially fun to play. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to call this a bad game, it’s just not the game for me. The graphics are thoroughly stupendous and look good even to a modern eye. San Francisco, New York, Tokyo and London are recreated in impressive detail and the soundtrack is high tempo and enjoyable to listen to.
The game uses a “Kudos” system, whereby you can earn points not just by winning a race but also by doing it in a stylish manner. This will lead to you getting the most out of corners and trying to chain as many skids and close calls together as possible for maximum points. Higher Kudos scores unlock new cars to race in, which I assume are all correctly designed and drive according to their real life counterparts.
In addition, your car does degrade as you suffer collisions with other racers and smash into the surrounding scenery. There are a selection of different modes, ranging from your basic time trial to races against CPU controlled opponents and modes where you have to drive through courses in a certain manner on your lonesome with the aim to rack up as much Kudos as possible. So there is lots to offer and the game is well imagined. I just don’t want to play it.
I know some people will be unhappy with my comments here, but I want you to understand that I don’t hate this game or think it’s terrible. It’s just not the sort of game I’d want to play. As a casual racing fan, it didn’t convert me, so if you yourself are a casual racing fan you might want to take that into account if you’re thinking of getting the game.
If you’re a full on car lover, then I reckon you’ll get a lot out of this game. If you have an Original Xbox and are yet to purchase this one, and you love horse powered pollution causing devices of doom, then this is certainly something you need to take a look at.
As always, I’ll post some game footage below
Next week, we return to SEGA for some rollicking hockey action!
Thanks for reading
Until next time
Come On You Blues!!!
Looking for other great content here on the site? Well then take a goosey gander at the following!
You can read Alec’s review of the new Mirrors Edge game by clicking right HERE
Joe thinks Sony beat Microsoft at E3 (Haven’t they been doing that since the 8th Gen began? HEY OHHHH!!!) and you can read all about why by clicking right HERE
And you can read Steve’s recent article about Indie gaming by clicking right HERE