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 http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/643/643992p1.html


August 20, 2005 - Although PGR 3 has virtually been Microsoft's poster child for their next-generation system, to be honest, we really haven't heard much about it. MS has released shots, shown some mighty pretty trailers and has even been hyping PGR 3 in their viral marketing campaigns, but we have yet to actually witness any real-time gameplay. That was, until today when we had a chance to sit down with Bizarre Creations' Design Manager Nick Davies at the German Games Convention and see the game in motion.


Nick started off the demo by sharing Bizarre Creations' motto for designing PGR 3: "Life begins at 170 miles per hour." He explained that all of the 80+ licensed cars from over 30 manufacturers (including Ferrari, Dodge and Lamborghini) in the game will go at least 170 miles per hour, so don't expect any granny-mobiles here. Unlike most racing games, you can drive any car on any track out of the box. Nick explains, "Our thought is that if you spend $50 on a game, you should be able to play whatever you want."

The next part of our demo focused on the highly realistic environments in the game. To build the cities in the game -- New York, Tokyo and London -- artists took a minimum of 20 thousand photographs of each city, and compiled a whooping 40 gigabytes of picture data for each locale. We saw a side-by-side comparison of a real-life building in Manhattan and the in-game model, and it was difficult to determine which was which. Some of the signs were changed for legal reasons, but for the most part, the buildings looked spot on. As Nick tells us, "If you live there, you'll recognize the building around the corner."


The game also sports realistic, detailed interiors and dashboards that animate as they would in real life. If the player uses the handbrake in the game, the animated driver will pull it up in the car. If the player shifts gears, the driver will work the clutch and gear shift. The car models themselves also look quite realistic, and you can even notice little details like the engine gleaming through the grill on the Enzo.



The audio in PGR 3 should also be some of the most realistic in any racing game as the development team recorded every car in the game, redlining all of the engines to get the full range of the noises these powerful speed beasts can make.


Realism won't just be confined to the cars and the environment, though. Instead of being just flat, cheering masses, even the crowd will react to the race as it happens. If you slam into a guard rail along the course, those behind where you struck will jump back in fear. If you're doing well in the race, you may hear cheering as you fly around the track; if you're not doing so well, you may hear booing. In addition, Bizarre Creations has tried to accurately depict the size of the crowd in attendance at every given race, and the number of onlookers will be determined by the popularity of the race within the circuit.


While a virtual crowd may be an ego booster as you're flying around the track at breakneck speeds, Gotham TV will allow real-life Xbox Live users to watch your races, or let you watch other drivers and learn what makes them so good. Nick told us that literally tens of thousands of people can watch a race at the same time and it won't slow down performance of the live race at all because it's all central server-based.



Not only will Gotham TV allow you to tune into races, but it will also be the hub for online stats and world leaderboards. It will also be used to advertise official tournaments and broadcast breaking news when big events take place, like when the number two driver in the world challenges the best driver so you can go watch the race.

While the focus of the game is on speed and winning races, the kudos system will make its way back to PGR 3, which encourages players to not only drive fast, but also with panache. Powerslide, stunts and driving on two wheels will all be awarded with more kudos points. Some of the best kudos moves may also be featured on Gotham TV, and you can, of course, share your finest moments with any of your XBL friends.


After giving us all the pertinent background information on the game, Nick fired up an X360 dev kit and jumped into PGR 3. The first thing I noticed was that the graphics were definitely toned down from the screenshots we've seen. Although it looked decent enough, the effects weren't pumped to the max and all the texture passes weren't active, so we weren't treated to the amazing visuals we've come to expect from the screens that have been released.


The environments looked quite nice at this point, with realistic textures on all the buildings, but there was some quite severe pop-in from buildings in the distance as Nick drove around a track in Tokyo. The frame rate was also a bit choppy at this point, but Nick told us that the game was running at about a third of the speed they plan to get out of the final version, which should achieve 60 frames per second.



To be fair, the demo we saw was running on a beta kit that is around 60% as powerful as the final Xbox 360 hardware, and the demo code is still unoptimized for best performance. Basically the demo was just to give us a glimpse of how the gameplay and environments will look in the final game, and it wasn't meant to "wow" or amaze us.


Project Gotham Racing 3 is officially a "launch window" title, which means that, although no exact date has been set at this time, it should be released by the end of this year. Nick told us to expect a more solid release date around TGS, and hopefully a playable demo in Tokyo. That's less than a month away, and we're looking forward to taking PGR 3 on a little test drive for ourselves.
 

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I'm a little worried that they said ingame stuff didn't look like the pics...it was toned down. i hope they pull it together...this game is key to a successful launch.
 

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Nice article, thanks for the heads up.
 

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