Project Gotham Racing 3

There's a few racing games available for the Xbox 360 but Bizarre Creation's Project Gotham Racing 3 just might be the best of the three because it combines some of the technical bits of Need For Speed: Most Wanted and fuses them together with the arcade craziness of Ridge Racer 6. And it also gets high marks for being one of the most visually impressive launch titles, featuring realistic cars and environments so real you'll be able to easily identify land marks as you tear down straight-aways and scream around hairpin turns. And while the offline game is great it's PGR3's multiplayer component that shines brightest, as it not only lets you hone your skills against seven other people but also watch races as a casual observer.

I'm a bit disappointed that the developers didn't take any huge risks with the gameplay, but my critics could always counter with the old "if it ain't broke" excuse and they'd have an excellent point. The next generation is here, courtesy of PGR3. Just make sure you hop into its driver's seat.

The Score

+ A robust single player campaign bursting with races, challenges, and the best bonus games of all, Geometry Wars 1 & 2. However, the complete Geometry Wars, Retro Arcade, must be acquired thru Xbox Live Arcade.

+ An equally appealing online mode that not only allows you to race against up to seven other players but also observe races without actually competing.

+ This game is absolutely gorgeous but only when your component cables French kiss your TV's component inputs.

+ What a superb soundtrack! Even the music that plays in between races is hot.

+ The rest of the audio is also very high quality. Roaring engines, screeching tires...I love it.

+/- Earning credits is way too easy. On one hand I like being able to buy expensive cars almost immediately, but on the other, I want to work for that Ferrari.

- Standard definition TVs make PGR3 look almost exactly like PGR2.

- Because the developers haven't taken any real gameplay risks, PGR3 feels a bit too much like its predecessors.

- Not enough cities to race on out of the box.

- Lengthy load times before races are unacceptable.

Bottom Line

PGR3 is what I've come to expect from anything developed by Bizarre Creations; a painstakingly polished product that plays magnificently and has plenty of delicious eye candy to sweeten the deal. It's a racing game that has both beauty as well as the brains to match, and I highly recommend you purchase it. But it doesn't look nearly as good running on a standard definition TV, so if graphics mean a hell of a lot to you, then I strongly advise you to open a Best Buy circular and go HDTV "browsing" like I unfortunately am.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.