We've seen what the versatile 360 hardware is capable of, but it would all be for nowt if the console didn't have an array of must-have launch titles under the banner 'Only available on Xbox 360'. Project Gotham Racing 3 fits the bill.
It's not without its minor issues, but PGR3 is fantastic fun and a beauty to behold. Let's get this out of the way right now: the photorealistic textures really are that good.
You start the game at the seat of a supercar, racing through the streets of a wonderfully recreated London and collecting kudos points for fancy manoeuvring. Pick up enough and you'll get some shiny medals - and, more importantly, progress through better cars and different tracks. Unfortunately, there's only a measly five settings: New York, London, Tokyo, Las Vegas and the Nürburgring.
We wanted to drive like bats out of hell and wreck these fancy motors in spectacular crashes, but a head-on collision with a barrier at top speed will result in a cracked windscreen at most - give us the Toca series' exciting damage modelling any day. And the tracks are forgiving. It's not quite the button-mashing anarchy of Ridge Racer or Burnout, but you do get the feeling you could hold down accelerate and make it to the finish without pressing another button.
The settings also get stale quickly, because there aren't enough of them - PGR3 doesn't have Gran Turismo's wealth of worldwide tracks. You can put tracks together yourself, though.
There's not much new here in terms of gameplay, but the eye candy is sublime; it's a shame we didn't get to hook PGR3 up to a large HD LCD TV for the job. The interior racing view is incredible and adds a feeling of speed that'll rip a hole in your pants. You'll also get your money's worth playing over Xbox live, giving the title serious long-term playability.
This review will appear in the February 06 issue of PC Advisor, which hits the shops on December 15