GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

Gamestock 2001: Hands-on: Project Gotham

Bizarre Creations is following its Dreamcast racer with a similar racer for the Xbox, the tentatively titled Project Gotham.


Bizarre Creations is putting its considerable racing lineage and the core racing engine from the Dreamcast driving game Metropolis Street Racer behind its first Xbox game, the tentatively titled Project Gotham. The game's roots lie squarely on the Dreamcast street racer, as it shares the same city courses, comparable driving physics, and a single player mode based on the kudos system. However, according to Martyn Chudley, managing director at Bizarre Creations, the UK-based development studio plans specific additions and improvements so that Project Gotham ends up being more than an enhanced version of MSR.

The Xbox game will include new tracks based in New York City, joining a roster of city courses that are based in San Francisco, London, and Tokyo. Bizarre Creations, in typical style, has sent members of the development team to New York City to photograph and map out actual landmarks and streets--in all, the development team took over 50,000 photographs of the four cities in order to accurately capture every bit of detail possible. However, the build shown was very early--the game has only been in development for a handful of months--and parts of the New York City course didn't have texture maps in place. In fact, Bizarre Creations had placeholder 2D bitmaps in place for certain ambient environmental objects, which in the final game will be rendered in full 3D. But already each of the cities have a distinct look and feel. The New York City tracks are bordered by massive skyscrapers giving them a more claustrophobic feel, while the London-based tracks are less cluttered as they wind through parks and open plazas. There will be 350 individual circuits in the game and 12 primary areas per city. In Tokyo, you'll be able to race through Shunjuku, Asakusa, and Shibuya. The St. James area, Trafalgar Square, and Westminster are the locales that will be available in London, while San Francisco will boast playable areas that include the financial district, Pacific Heights, and Fisherman's Wharf. In New York City, you'll be able to race around Wall Street, Central Park, and Times Square. Bizarre Creations promises more detailed and dynamic tracks in Project Gotham, when compared with MSR.

Perhaps, the primary difference in Project Gotham is the selection of the new high horsepower vehicles. Bizarre Creations has opted to include cars from more high-end manufacturers for this game, as opposed to MSR. So, instead of a selection that includes such vehicles as the Mazda Miata, Project Gotham will include models such as the TVR Tuscan and the Chevrolet Corvette Z06--both of which were shown in the demo. Bizarre Creations is also going after some of the more lucrative licenses in racing games like Ferrari and Porsche, although the designers aren't sure if they'll be able to include those cars in Project Gotham yet. Higher top speeds on the new supercars in the game, along with the promise of a constant 60fps, should speed up the gameplay considerably.

In the build that was shown, it was obvious that the cars themselves, rather than the environments, were given the detailed treatment. According to Chudley, each of the individual car models will be composed of 16,000 polygons. Equally as impressive were the real-time lighting effects and reflection routines. Driving through the London course in a silver metallic TVR, environmental objects such as light posts, fences, and signage mapped realistically and in real-time to the car's shiny chassis. In one of the demos shown, headlights and tailights distorted in realistic fashion as it reflected off the wet pavement. The final showpiece was the driver himself. He was easily visible inside the car and was detailed down to specific facial features.

Bizarre Creations plans to add a new four-player split-screen mode in Project Gotham. However, according to Chudley, the developers haven't decided on the specific implementation. Among the options the development team is considering is simply having four human-controlled players, or having two human players and two computer players. One thing is for certain, Bizarre Creations is adamant about having the game run at a blistering 60fps in both the single- and multi-player modes. The four-player mode was not shown and it will be interesting to see whether four cars can effectively race on the relatively narrow street courses in the game.

The folks at Bizarre Creations recognize that the kudos-based gameplay system in MSR, which asked the player to run near-perfect races, may have been somewhat difficult for the novice player. They hope to remedy that with an enhanced points system that, according to Bizarre representatives, that is clear in its objectives and has a flatter learning curve. Although they couldn't discuss specifics, players that were turned off by the challenging nature of the first game will find Project Gotham more accessible. Bizarre Creations did tell us that Project Gotham will still feature gameplay modes and challenges that will reward players for "driving with an attitude." That designers felt that people should be given credit for executing a perfect turn, or flamboyantly blowing by an opponent, or even kicking the rear end of the car out while blasting through a tight corner. As such, you'll be rewarded more points for absolutely crushing an opponent, than you will for winning by a hair's length. With these points, you'll be able to unlock more cars and you'll be given access to "free roam" entire cities at a time.

Project Gotham is the first racing game officially announced for the Xbox. Microsoft hopes that Bizarre Creations can draw on its Formula 1 lineage and its experiences in developing Metropolis Street Racer to create a city-based driving game that is accessible to a wide range of game players and is challenging enough for the expert racing fans. "We are delighted to welcome Bizarre to the Xbox family. They love to push the bounds of what's possible in video gaming, which makes them a perfect fit for the Xbox," Ed Fries, vice president of games publishing at Microsoft, said of his company's Xbox development deal with Bizarre Creations. Project Gotham is currently 30 percent complete, and the company hopes that it will have the game ready in time for a holiday release.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are no comments about this story