Project Gotham Racing 3 is shaping up as being one of the biggest launch titles when Xbox 360 is released in the UK next month, with new gameplay features and next-gen graphics all adding to the enjoyment of the already popular Project Gotham series.

PGR3 hands-on at UK First Play event - Photo copyright GamesPaper

A 90% complete version was available to play at the UK First Play event in October, revealing some of the single player point-to-point and circuit racing which will be on offer from the full game, with all five locations playable and looking highly impressive with a real solid feel to them.

It's clear to see where the extra polygons have been used up, as there are now clapping and cheering crowds standing behind the crash barriers and safety fencing, and cameras flash away as photos are taken of the race in action - cleverly spectators also take a step back and try to get out of the way of any possible debris when you hit in to the barrier, which is an effect that you'll probably not even notice in the manic action of the racing unless you get shunted head-first in to the wall by your opponent and see the crowd scatter in front of you.

The ghost-town feeling which previous PGR titles have suffered from, has always been a criticism which has been levelled at the game and did let down the atmosphere, so it's good to see that the power of Xbox 360 is allowing this vital addition to the trackside scenery, and really benefiting from doing so.


Another consequence of the processing power that Xbox 360 offers is that a new in-car drivers eye camera view is now available, and it offers a highly realistic driving position with the full car interior including dashboard, steering wheel, radio, smears on the windscreen and wing mirrors which get shattered when you collide with a wall or another car and reflect a jumbled view just like real broken mirror would.

Some 12 routes make up the London map, which stretches from Piccadilly Circus in the north to St James Park at Buckingham Palace in the west, across to Westminster and the Houses of Parliament, and then the new section alongside the Thames using the Embankment which has the London Eye wheel on the opposite bank, and leads up to Charing Cross station before heading back towards Trafalgar Square.

Extra track configurations can be made by using the "Custom Route" tool, where you have to string together a route by connecting up a series of checkpoints between start and finish points on your circuit. It obviously can't offer the same level of control as a full map editor, but gives you the chance to try out some different routes instead of the handful that are included for each location.

PGR3 hands-on at UK First Play event - Photo copyright GamesPaper

New York's lengthy Brooklyn Bridge just goes to show how much detail has been modelled in each of the cities, and the towering skyscrapers which line the streets in downtown Manhattan cast huge shadows over the track - all of which reflects on your windscreen if viewed from the in-car viewpoint.

A more summery feel to the races can be found in casino city Las Vegas, with palm trees dotted along the edge of the boulevards and glowing neon signs lighting up both the day and night skyline, whilst the cramped Tokyo streets will offer some challenging racing - especially if you're in a pack of cars about to enter one of the cities underpasses and have to negotiate a tight spiral ramp on the way in!

The fifth track in PGR3 is the hugely popular Nurburgring in Germany, and whilst only part of the circuit was experienced during our time with the game, the section which was raced really stood out as being a much higher detail version of the circuit than other games have managed, which is no surprise when you consider how far Bizarre Creations have pushed the other locations in the game.

Project Gotham Racing 3 is due for release on the Xbox 360 in time for the European launch on December 2nd, and you can pre-order yours from now.

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