Project Gotham Racing Mobile
Project Gotham Racing's mobile translation includes many of the little touches that made the franchise a hit on the Xbox and Xbox 360. You earn "kudos" for lengthy powerslides and other stylish racing, every event can be played at a variety of difficulties right from the start, and you even earn achievements as you progress.
While all those things remain intact, the actual key to the franchise, its great sense of speed, was lost. I appreciate that the mobile phone is not an Xbox 360; I think anyone picking up PGR Mobile will go into it with realistic expectations. But still, when your car literally feels like it's crawling when the speedometer says 50 MPH, and accelerates out of "boring" at around 120 MPH, this is a problem. I wish developers making mobile racing titles were more willing to sacrifice graphical detail for speed.
Despite the overall sluggishness of the racing action, I still enjoyed PGR Mobile quite a bit. It's a rare example of a mobile game being more than the sum of its parts. No individual racing event stands out in my mind as being especially fun, but I still played through every single race, logging in much more time than I needed to strictly to put together a review. It's rare that I actually feel compelled to "100%" a game, so it's clear that developer Glu did something right.
The 2D version I played is still presented in a 3D manner (camera behind and above the car). It controlled rather well with just one thumb on the D-Pad, but to truly get the most out of the experience using both thumbs on the numpad works best. 4 and 6 steer left and right respectively, with 1 and 3 initiating a powerslide (or 7 and 9, if you prefer). 8 breaks, although honestly I don't think I used it once the entire game.
A large part of what makes this mobile release work is its smart, open-ended sense of progression, borrowed from the console titles. Although new events aren't open until the previous races have been cleared, any open race can be attempted across five difficulty levels - from "novice" to "hardcore." The catch is that the higher the difficulty, the more credits you win, allowing you to buy faster cars quicker. Some events on the higher difficulty levels will literally be impossible at first, and you'll have to come back to earn those platinum medals after you have a better vehicle. It's a great system - the game is as easy or hard as the gamer wants, but provides incentive for players to challenge themselves.
The other differentiator is the game's "kudos" system. Successfully pulling off certain actions (overtaking a car, drifting, clearing a track section crash-free, etc.) adds to your kudos total. In most events this total is basically just for bragging rights, but the PGR formula gets mixed up (in a good way) for certain events where the goal is not to come in first, but to earn a specific number of kudos, by chaining together crazy powerslides and otherwise being a racing badass. They're a great change of pace.
Besides the racing speed not being as fast as I would like, my only other big issue with the game is slighty iffy feeling of the controls themselves. It's not a big deal, but it reminds me of old 16-bit racing games like Road Rash - it feels more like your car is standing still and the track is racing beneath you, as you move left & right to avoid obstacles.
The bottom line is that PGR Mobile isn't perfect, but it is filled with content, and manages to stay fresh and fun right to the end, despite its above-average length.
What's Hot: A ton of content, good progression system, good event variety.
What's Not: No sense of speed, questionable steering controls.