I’ve been lucky enough today to go in a private demonstration of Project Gotham Racing 3 with Nick Davies of Bizarre Creations. Here are my impressions from what he said and what I’ve seen.
Nick Davies first showed us a PowerPoint presentation of what they wanted to achieve in the game, with a few screenshots too, most of them already released. Here are the main points he really wanted us to understand:
- PGR3 should feel like a real sport, with real champions
- You play how you want, anywhere you want
- All cars can at least reach 170 mph, no smaller cars like VW Golf.
- Gotham TV is a very important aspect of the experience.
- There are about 4.000 spectators you can see in each track. They all react to what’s happening on the track. They can encourage or laugh at you, and of course take a few steps back in terror if you crash near them. Every animation has been motion captured.
- Every car is composed of about 40.000 polygons for the outside, and the same number for the inside. One shot I had never seen before was a fully textured model of the inside of a car, and it looked fantastic. The leather looked really realistic.
- Almost everything in the game is unlocked right from the start. Bizarre does not want to discourage people by having them tediously unlock everything for online racing.
- There will be online tournaments and a leaderboard system.
- The matching system will be very accurate, allowing good players to play with good players, and bad drivers like me to actually have a chance to have some fun.
- The kudos system will also be much more accurate, and will be able to reward you if you do a better style of power slide for example.
- Gotham TV should feel very much like a true TV channel. They want people to be able to use it as easily as a digital TV box.
- There will be some team racing and when I mentioned cooperative game play all I got was a smile and a no comment reply.
Now for the most important part of the presentation. Nick changed the input on the very nice Samsung LCD display and there it was. PGR3, running right before my eyes!
Let me state first that this was a rather old build, running on the oldest version of the black beta kits. The game was very obviously in development, with lots of graphical bugs and a very low frame rate, something like 10 or 15 FPS.
But it already looked so incredible! This was running on the same Tokyo track as shown in the latest trailer, and except for the numerous visual bugs and the very low resolution textures of this debug build, it looked exactly the same. Only this time it was playable!
Of course I did not have the chance to play myself, but Nick managed to show us a few interesting things. First and very noticeable was the awesome motion blur. Even at this low frame rate, the sense of speed was already exciting thanks to a quite natural looking motion blur. Every fast moving object on the screen was blurred very naturally and accordingly to his speed and distance from the camera. Of course other players’ cars will be blurred too. And yes I asked and it will be used in game play as well as replays.
The car was behaving very well to each bump and small jumps of the road, but it was difficult to see if it was accurate or not because of the low frame rate. Nick also detached the camera and got it to face the spectators. They are not very detailed, but they still look very nice and move very well.
We also got the chance to see the true cockpit view running and it was also excellent. It looks like there is a freelook mode that allows you to turn your viewpoint around the car, but maybe it's just the debug build. And yes every gauge was moving in the dashboard.
This build did not have any sound so I can't unfortunately comment on that aspect of the game. I do not doubt it will be as good as the visuals though.
Update: I forgot to mention that we saw a few examples of the damages on the cars. They are about the same as in PGR2, mostly because it's already really difficult to get the license as it is I guess. Also there was no HUD yet in the game.
We did not get to see more of the game than one car and one track, and even with all the bugs and low frame rate, PGR3 did not fail to impress me at all. This is definitely my most awaited Xbox 360 game