Project Gotham Racing 2 Publisher: Microsoft Platform: XboxThe first PGR was great because it presented a huge variety of cars, from the Japanese sport compacts all the way up to the Italian purebred exotics. What PGR2 brings to the table is an evolution of sorts to the original. The physics are the same, except with some tweaks. The graphics are kicked up a notch on this version. And there are more cars and tracks. The Kudos system is still in place, while the A.I. has been tweaked to be less forgiving as the difficulty levels go up.
Although the improvements are nice, it's the Xbox Live functionality that makes PGR2 really shine. For me, personally, it's great to get online and know I'm better than about 2,000 other people (but worse than 180,000 or so). The best thing about PGR2 on Xbox Live is the fact that you can tailor the matches to better suit your ability.
As a whole, PGR2 is an impressive package. From the A.I. to the vast number of desirable cars in the game, PGR2is simply the best racer available on the Xbox at the moment. This game belongs in every red-blooded armchair racer's collection. Now, let's just hope some new cars start showing up in the Xbox Live portion of the showroom.
R: Racing Evolution Publisher: Namco Platform: Xbox, PS2, Gamecube
R: Racing Evolution is the long-awaited next installment to the Ridge Racer series. Believably, Namco is trying to go for more realistic cars and physics, while bringing a new look to the series. This look is the lovely Rena, who wears her racing suit open just enough to expose her most valuable racing assets.
Nonetheless, there's enough real world cars to get you interested in playing the game for a few hours. Interestingly enough, there's also a "pressure" system in which you can intimidate other drivers on the course into making mistakes that could cost them the race. The story in and of itself, leaves much to be desired. Perhaps it's tough to make a storyline without some soap opera elements in it.
The unfortunate aspect of R: Racing Evolution is that it attempts to capture some of what Pro Race Driver succinctly portrayed, but falls short in its delivery. It's great to race in several different types of circuits (drag, rally, road courses, etc.), but when the physics all feels the same and the engines sound similar despite being of various displacements and configurations, it's tough to get overly enthusiastic about the title.
Needless to say, R: Racing Evolution is a decent title, albeit not overly memorable. This is one you would graciously accept as a gift or pick out of the bargain bin if you're looking to obtain a complete collection of racing games.
J-List (www.jlist.com) is the tireless efforts of an American expatriate who journeyed to Japan to teach English and found a niche market to fulfill here in the States. Are you in the market for dating-sim (a.k.a. dirty anime or hentai) PC games? J-List has it. Heck, J-List stocks a ton of items you'd never find in the States but are fairly prolific in Japan. Just think, where else can you get a Hello Kitty "personal massager" or interesting and unique Japanese candies and toys? J-List also stocks a fair amount of VCDs, DVDs, and picture books of famous Japanese "idols" in various states of undress. One other cool thing about J-List is that they import all of their stuff to the States so that you can save some dough on shipping. Either way, the tireless efforts of J-List's progenitor Peter Payne have not gone unnoticed here at 2NR.