The original Project Gotham Racing wasn't much more than an upgraded version of the Dreamcast classic Metropolis Street Racer, and was seen by some gamers as simply being a lick of new paint - along with a new city and a couple of extra cars of course. Project Gotham 2 on the other hand has taken huge leaps forward and really showcases the best of both the Xbox console and the Xbox Live online gaming service.
As was the case with both MSR and PGR, presentation is excellent - there's clean and easy to navigate menu screens, and a real feel of quality presentation throughout the game. Interestingly when you start up PGR2 you are invited to log in to your Xbox Live account, and this is because the game is fully Live-aware, even when you are playing a solo offline game, and means you can get invites from other friends who are online or simply get real time scoreboards which show exactly where you are in comparison with other gamers.
Kudos makes a return as the point scoring system, and as before you get rewarded for style - taking a close line around a corner, drafting a faster car in front of you, spinning your car around in a doughnut all gives you those vital Kudos points, and fortunately Bizarre have made some tweaks to the system this time around which mean you don't lose all of your kudos if you've racked up a combo, but you will lose any bonus points which you'd managed to accumulate. As you make it to certain levels of Kudos points you get awarded Kudos tokens which let you buy more exotic racers.
Offline "solo" play is perfectly adequate with both kudos and arcade style racing modes which feature street racing, speed camera challenges, and cone challenges. However Project Gotham Racing 2 really comes in to it's own when played online via Xbox Live with up to seven other racers, in what's largely a lag-free experience and provides for the best online gaming we've ever experienced.
It'd appear that from comments of gamers who live in the cities recreated in PGR2 such as Edinburgh, Sydney and Chicago, that Bizarre have got everything spot on, with buildings and streets in exactly the right positions, and down to the very last detail - it is however a bit of a shame that some cities aren't a bit larger, as a few of them such as Edinburgh only seem to allow races around a limited area of the city.
There's only a very small number of areas in which you can find any sort of fault with PGR2 - one would be the lack being able to "cruise" around the cities with other online friends. It's also a shame that some of the offline non-racing modes aren't available on Live, such as Cone Challenges or the Speed cameras.
Project Gotham Racing 2 is easily the best racing game ever to have been released, and it'd probably not be far off the mark if it also took the title of best Xbox Live game currently available, as it simply leaves other similar racing games on both the PS2 and PC standing in the tyre smoke.Overall score: 9 out of 10
Recommended Price: £39.99
Available: November 2003Buy Project Gotham Racing 2 from Amazon