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360 Racing Wheel reviewed

Remember that spiffy racing wheel that Microsoft announced a while back? You know, the one that comes with the special force feedback version of PGR 3. Yes ... that racing wheel! Over at Xbox Canadian Live they got their hands on one to demo, and the short and sweet version is that they absolutely love it. The force feedback option sounds extremely fun especially with Forza 2 when it drops. Though, I'm not a huge race fan, I could see this little accessory adding to the enjoyment of a game. Are you willing to drop some cash on this bad boy so you can experience what real racing feels like? Seriously, why wouldn't you purchase this wheel? (I guess you probably wouldn't purchase this if you're totally broke and hate racing games or despise wheels in general ... then I can cope with your decision.)

New 360 Platinum Hits for $29.99

It's platinum, get it?Microsoft has officially announced the first batch of Platinum Hits for the Xbox 360. The games are:

Perfect Dark Zero
Project Gotham Racing 3
Kameo: Elements of Power
Need for Speed Most Wanted

Conspicuously missing from the list is Call of Duty 2, the 360's first million seller. The first four Platinum Hits will be available for the bargain price of $29.99 starting October 15th -- the second set should be announced in the spring of 2007. It's a far cry from what we considered a bargain last gen, but it's definitely better than nothing. So, for those of you that haven't picked these up yet, will a $29.99 price tag make you reconsider?

See the full press release after the break.

Continue reading New 360 Platinum Hits for $29.99

PGR bundle is real, if you're Canadian

The much speculated PGR bundle, including (you guessed it) Project Gotham Racing 3, a premium 360, and Marketplace points, is a reality. Like, a totally real reality. There is, however, one little caveat, it's for Canada only. What's more, there is currently no plan to offer the package anywhere else. Just to make it absolutely clear:

"This is a Canadian-only bundle, so speculation about a US version will not be realized."

Ouch. Kind of harsh for a PR release. Still, if you're a hoser with CAD $499 to spare, you can expect to start seeing the bundle on August 9th.

PGR3 photo mode is Live

Like driving spiffy cars? Fancy yourself to be a talented photographer? Then put those talents to use in Project Gotham 3's new photo upload feature! All you need is Xbox Live, PGR3 and a Passport account. The overall process is simple, just take a picture in the game, upload it, head over to the PGR3 website, sign in, and share your photos. Hit the read link for more detailed instructions.

Now somebody post some kuh-razy photos in the comments section.

Major Nelson 2.0

Xbox Live Programming Director Larry "Major Nelson" Hyrb has ordered a redesign of his must read blog in preparation for E3. Right now it's in sort of a transitional mode, but the Major promises a host of new features once things get rolling (no need to change your RSS feed by the way). While you're admiring the new look, take a minute to get on XBL and download the PGR3 Global Tournament gamer picture he was pointing out before his site went all 2.0.

Speaking of the PGR3 tournament, competition kicked off on Monday. How'd you do?

PGR3 auto-update has issues

The recent PGR3 auto-update features a bunch of great improvements to the game, but reader Pixelantes points out a couple of problems:

1. The rotating car class hoppers has been implemented so that the car classes rotate according to the players' local time. This means that around midnight people in different timezones see different car classes in the online races and they can't race each other. This combined with the rotating schedule itself is causing severe wait times in pre-race lobbies. People are reporting wait times in excess of 45 minutes.

2. Bizarre Creations didn't include a new garage with the auto-update, so while the total number of cars available in the game is 94 (?), there're only 84 garage spots available. This means you can no longer own all the cars in the game.

The lack of garage space sounds like a minor annoyance, but the timezone thing could be bad, especially heading into next week's global tournament. Can we get an auto-update for our auto-update?

PGR3: There can be only one

Globalists, start you engines. Verizon and Lamborghini are sponsoring a world-wide PGR3 tournament on Xbox Live beginning April 17. The top four gamers in each region (Europe, Asia and the Americas) will be hot wheeled all the way to the Lamborghini factory in Sant' Agata Bolognese, Italy to compete in the finals on automotive holy ground. Qualfiying action takes place on the Tokyo Nishigushi Short route track, so start practicing. Here's the full list of prizes for the European region:

(4) Regional Tournament Grand Prize Winners

  • An invitation to compete in the PGR3 Xbox Live Final taking place at the Lamborghini factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy
  • A trip for winner and a guest to Sant’ Agata, Italy departing on Sunday June 11, 2006 and returning on Thursday June 15, 2006
  • A limited edition PGR 100 Xbox 360 console
  • An official Xbox Live PGR3 Lamborghini Jacket

(10) 2nd Place Prize Packages (places 5-14)

  • Limited Edition PGR 100 Xbox 360 console
  • Official Xbox Live PGR3 Lamborghini Leather Miura Racing Gloves

(10) 3rd Place Prize Packages (places 15-24)

  • Limited Edition PGR3 Faceplate
  • Official Xbox Live PGR3 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder T-Shirt

(10) 4th  Place Prize Packages (places 25-34)

  • Official Xbox Live PGR3 Lamborghini Cap

For some reason, American grand prize winners don't get the console. There's also no special prize specified for the overall winner. That sucks because if I beat the entire world, I'd expect a late model Diablo at the very least. Sign up early because registering doesn't guarantee a spot in the qualifying round.

Fulfilling Microsoft's promise to turn obsessed basement dwellers in to global celebrities, the finals will be viewable on Gotham TV. Those sick days seem so worth it now.

PGR3 Fun Time with Japanese 360 Girls

Marketing for morons tip #360: When all else fails, bring out the babes! Sensing that sex sells consoles, Xbox Japan sponsored an apparently successful promotional event subtly christened  "Xbox Live Fun Time" where three popular Gravia (pin-up) girls cooed over the 360 and showed off their modest PGR3 skills online.

It's going to take more than a few cute chicks in headsets to turn things around for Microsoft in Sony and Nintendo's backyard. But in a country where sniffable panties are only a vending machine away, this latest ploy seems like a pretty obvious move. Now how about some killer apps to go with those killer bods.

[Thanks SuicideNinja]

Interviews with "Art of Xbox 360" artists

Bytesector has posted interviews with two artists whose work appeared in the "Art of Xbox 360" event held at the Blue Dot Gallery in Toronto last month. The show featured pre-production artwork and screenshots from Microsoft-published 360 titles Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo, and Project Gotham Racing 3. Bytesector spoke with Chris Davie, a modeler Bizarre Creations' PGR3, and Wil Overton, the Lead Art Director on Rare's Perfect Dark Zero. The interviews present an interesting point of view from artists, who're often unsung members of the development cycle.

Read - Chris Davie interview
Read - Wil Overton interview

COD2 leads weekly Xbox 360 chart

The ELSPA lead chart is up for this week, and Call of Duty 2 has managed to swing the #1 spot, up from 4th last week. Behind it is PGR3 which has remained pretty consistent. Dead or Alive 4 has fallen to third place followed by Perfect Dark Zero and Full Auto. There hasn't been a huge amount of change from the other end of the chart. NBA Live 06 and Tony Hawk's American Wasteland bring up the rear with no change.

Check out the full board to see how the rest fared.

PGR3: Lamborghini Scavenger Hunt

Microsoft is sending German gamers on a scavenger hunt for 13 digital pieces of the extremely cool Lamborghini Murciélago as a marketing gimmick for Project Gotham Racing 3. The PGR Garage site explaining the hunt is in Deutsch only, but you can get the English details, including a list of participating sites, here. Unfortunately for the marketing department, it looks like at least one German auto enthusiast isn't impressed.

[Hat tip Christian at GermanCarBlog]

PGR3 comparison screenshots

So how does Project Gotham Racing 3 compare to real life? When a gaming fan recently got back from a holiday trip to Japan, he set up some very impressive comparison screens. For each in-game urban scene that's pictured, there is real life counterpart to view.

The immaculate details show just how close the team tried to emulate the locale and succeeded in doing so.

[Thanks, Ian Bowden]

Project Gotham Racing 3 demo in the Marketplace

The demo for Project Gotham Racing 3 is available for download in the Marketplace. With the quantity and quality of the demos coming out, the Live Marketplace is really showing off its potential.

Are you still here? Go download it now!

PGR3 video montage shows off cities

London Eye PGR3London. Las Vegas. New York. Tokyo. The Nürburgring. These five cities are recreated with amazing detail in Project Gotham Racing 3, but we may have zoomed through them at over 170mph, missing much of it along the way.

This video montage provides a quick tour of the more impressive cityscapes in the game, and the quality is pretty astounding. If you want to explore, pause your game and enter Photo mode -- you can fly through the city, although you're confined to the track, and take a look at the landmarks for as long as you want.

Update on Japanese 360 compatability

Japan 360As suspected, Microsoft has left the decision of region-locking up to the publishers. Play-Asia has confirmed on a Japanese 360 that Quake 4, Call of Duty 2, and Condemned all work fine, while Microsoft published titles PGR3, Kameo, and Perfect Dark Zero do not. They also report European 360s behave similarly with Ridge Racer 6, Amped 3, GUN, and Tony Hawk all work outside of their regions.

So, while Microsoft made region encoding option for publishers, they themselves have opted to lock their titles down. So don't go importing your 360 to get one in time for Christmas.

[Via Gamebrink]

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