Xbox 360 first impressions

Written by Wil Harris

November 21, 2005 | 15:15

Tags: #360 #fifa-06 #impressions #kameo #launch #perfect-dark-zero #preview #project-gotham-3 #review

Project Gotham Racing 3

Now confirmed as making it on to shelves in time for the launch, Project Gotham 3 is undoubtedly the hottest title for the 360 release. Surrounded in graphical controversy since its inception, we've already covered some of its technical merits in depth:

Xbox 360 first impressions Project Gotham Racing 3 Xbox 360 first impressions Project Gotham Racing 3
Going hands on, a few things are immediately apparent. The first is that the controls, the gameplay and the overall feel of the game is pretty similar to the original two titles. We've played those both to death, and PGR is amongst our favourite racing games of all time, so we're happy to find that the gameplay is pretty similar. There are some more modes, and online play is obviously far better integrated than it has been previously, but the fundamentals are there.

Xbox 360 first impressions Project Gotham Racing 3 Xbox 360 first impressions Project Gotham Racing 3
The second thing that's obvious is that the visuals on these pages aren't representative of the actual game. Gotham 3 looks better than Gotham 2, and it's by far the best-looking racing game out there - but there are several shortcomings. Number one is that, according to recent reports, the game isn't actually rendering at 1280x720. Xbox 360 games are all supposed to be 720p resolution, but there appear to have been issues getting Gotham to run at a decent framerate at that resolution. With time ticking to launch, the answer the developers have picked out appears to be to downscale the render resolution and then use the Xbox output hardware to subsequently upscale for the TV. Consequently, this can leave the visuals looking less than sharp.

Of course, with the lower resolution, jaggies become an issue. Now, each Xbox 360 game is supposed to have 4x Anti-Aliasing applied, thanks to the custom ATI hardware inside. However, on the version we played, this blatantly wasn't happening. There were a good number of jaggies, and we can tell you straight that these weren't being AA'd out. We need to get our hands on a final console and a final copy of the game, but if this AA isn't in there, then there is going to be a significant difference between the media screenshots we've all seen and the actual output on your TV. This would be more than a little disappointing.

Lastly, trees. Frankly, no one has come up with a brilliant way of doing trees in games, and Gotham 3 is no exception - the trees suck, and actually detract from the realism of the rest of the scenery, which is otherwise fantastic.

Xbox 360 first impressions Project Gotham Racing 3 Xbox 360 first impressions Project Gotham Racing 3
In fact, driving around London in the game, we were gobsmacked with the detail level that is in the texturing. The Houses of Parliament, Hyde Park - they all look absolutely stunning. The reflections on the cars, the road surface, the other vehicles - all these are fantastically detailed, and really epitomise what next generation graphics should be about.

All in all, then, this looks like it could be the title to have. Reviews are already coming in from around the world with positive feedback. We're going to confirm the resolution and AA issue as soon as we possibly can.
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