PGR differs from most racing games in that winning a race does not necessarily mean the player advances to the next round; instead advancement in PGR requires both driving fast enough to meet the challenge set, and scoring enough Kudos points to advance. Kudos points are gained through the player's driving skills, such as power sliding around a corner at speed, or overtaking other NPCs in the race. There are 4 world cities, realistically recreated including San Francisco, London, Tokyo and New York City.
The game received positive reviews upon release. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has described Project Gotham as his favorite video game.
Because of the success of the Project Gotham Racing" series, Guinness World Records awarded the series six world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include, "Most Complex Car Models in a Racing Game", "Largest Licensed Soundtrack Included in a Racing Game", and "Most Complex Race Environment" for the New York City area of PGR3. The Brooklyn Bridge alone is made up from over one million polygons.