Xbox’s History of Racing Game Dominance

Unlike Sony’s racing game monopoly on PlayStation with Gran Turismo since the 90s, Xbox racing games have seen more variety. Starting out with the PGR (Project Gotham Racing) series, Forza released alongside eventually, and finally took over as the main racing game on the Xbox. So what happened to Bizarre Creations and their unique racing game franchise?

Humble beginnings

Bizarrely, it didn’t start with racing. Originally under the name Raising Hell Software, they developed games for the Amiga and Sega Mega Drive, before making their racing debut with with two Formula 1 games for the PlayStation. They then released one for the Dreamcast called Metropolis Street Racer. Finally in 2001, Bizarre Creations developed for Microsoft’s new console, the Xbox.

With some racing game experience under their belts, Bizarre went up against Halo and Dead or Alive 3 with a racing game launch title called Project Gotham Racing. Within a year the game received great reviews and sold over a million units worldwide. And for good reason. The arcade style racer was like nothing seen before, while it built on Bizarre’s previous Dreamcast title.

Bringing over their Kudos points system from Metropolis Street Racer, PGR coupled this with superb driving controls. This made for great racing with a compelling rewards system. It was amazing racing hard to be fast, while also trying to rack up those Kudos points. Drifting and drafting while just driving hard rewarded you so much.

New Kid On The Track

Two years after the first PGR instalment, PGR 2 released to more great reviews like its predecessor. Project Gotham Racing 2 truly was a racing game like no other on the Xbox. Fast forward to 2005 and a new contender arrives in the form of Forza Motorsport. More representative of Sony’s Gran Turismo, racing fans found circuit based racing rather than street racing. Forza released with decent success, but their rise to power was yet to come.

Also in 2005, Bizarre Creations released the first PGR title on the next generation of consoles, PGR 3 for Xbox 360. Turn 10 followed suit with Forza Motorsport 2 in 2007, and this is where Forza started to gain traction. Their popularity grew from this point which really put them in a good place for Forza Motorsport 3. PGR 4 released a few months later to, once again, favorable reviews. This however would be the last entry in the series as Activision acquired the team for a couple of games that didn’t quite meet the success of PGR. Then the company was no more.

Releasing in 2009, Forza Motorsport 3 sold over a million more units than its predecessor and massively built on the success of the previous title. It was at this point where Forza was the place to be for racing on Xbox.

Passing the Torch

With Forza well and truly settled in as Xbox’s mainstay racing game, they certainly made the most of it. Forza Motorsport 4, being regarded as one of the best in the franchise, introduced many things we see in Turn 10’s titles today. Features such as the Autovista mode, which allows you to get a detailed look in and around a car while learning facts about its production. This mode was somewhat reminiscent of PGR’s showroom and garage modes. Here, you could walk around to get closer looks at the cars you’ve bought and purchase new ones.

From that point on, Turn 10 continued to innovate the racing genre in many ways. Most notably, the introduction of the Forza Horizon series. Horizon is a much more arcade like – and often times wackier take of – Forza Motorsport. As opposed to the circuit tracks of Motorsport, Horizon features city streets, dirt tracks, and even off-road sections. These are all set in an open world and various countries, which makes for extremely varied racing experience. Horizon even features its own skill points system, much like PGR’s Kudos system.

Forza Horizon’s DLC is where it shines most. With collaborations with Hot Wheels and LEGO, the spin off is truly some of the most fun you can have on Xbox. But the humble Motorsport series still has its place on the console with a few hiccups here and there. Its time on Xbox One has had its low points, but the future is bright for Forza.

Final Lap

While Forza continues to dominate the current racing game scene on Xbox, I will always have extremely fond memories of the PGR series. Throwing every car into corners to build up as many Kudos points as I could is a childhood memory I will keep forever. Here’s hoping Microsoft can recognize the greatness of PGR and bring them all to backwards compatibility. While many features in Forza titles are reminiscent of PGR’s history, it’ll never be quite the same as the original.

Are you a fan of the original Project Gotham Racing series? Let us know over on the Generation Xbox Forums! Also be sure to checkout our home page often for the latest news, reviews, and opinion pieces!

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