18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Project Gotham Racing 4 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
Having thoroughly enjoyed both PGR2 and PGR3, I was eager to get my copy of the newest installment. And I do not regret it one bit. This game has become one of my all-time favourite games in such a short space of time.
Firstly, the positives, and where to start. The graphics on the game are spectacular. One of the things that has always drawn me to the PGR series is the graphics and the amazing street environments you race through. The cities are so accurately depicted and you can really tell how much work the creators have put into them. I can attest to the accuracy of the London environment, and I have friends who live/have lived in some of the other cities who can say the same for theirs! All of the cities from PGR3 have returned as well as some interesting new ones such as Macau, Quebec and Shanghai and others (the Nurburgring is here as always). Each city has its own unique street style providing great variety.
The weather effects are a very good point as well, having improved on the physics from previous games. The new rain and ice effects feel very authentic. The location of puddles at certain corners really forces you to rethink your driving line. The driving physics in this game are as good as ever. You have a real sensation of speed when driving down narrow streets at top speeds.
They have altered the car lineup from PGR3 to give a broader range of car performances rather than purely focusing on supercars (this was a weakness of PGR3 imo). This brings it closer to the good old days of PGR2 where you start off in the small slow cars and work your way up. Whilst the starting cars aren't quite as slow as the mini coopers of PGR2, it's a nice compromise between the 2nd and 3rd game. The range of cars is great though. They still include many unknown but great manufacturers (check out the MTT turbine superbike - powered by a helicopter jet engine!!), but for some reason they don't include Porsches, only a company that tunes and re-engineers porsches (RUF). As always, the american muscle cars oversteer like crazy, racking up some nice kudos (despite costing you valuable seconds), whilst the hyper cars are still as lightning fast as ever.
Unlike what other reviewers have said, I find the single player mode to be very lengthy. It takes a few seasons to get to rank 1 and once you're done with that the arcade mode will keep you occupied for a long time as well as xbox live. The introduction of the PGR shop was a good idea, it lets you use your kudos to buy different car packs, new tracks, new helmets, or even an achievement (just for the gamerpoint whores!).
The geometry wars game found in the garage is different to the xbox live arcade game. It's called Geometry Wars: Waves and is a fun and addictive twist to the series. It can't be played anywhere else apart from PGR4 and you could quite possible lose hours of your free time to this addictive little side game.
Achievements are nicely balanced in the game, most of them being for single player, but requiring you to put plenty of time and effort into it.
Of course the big addition which I have failed to talk about so far is the appearance of motorbikes. They are a phenomenal new feature. They take some practice and getting used to but they feel quite realistic (not that I've ever been on a motorbike) and completely different to the cars, forcing you to adjust your handling style. They allow you to perform some cool stunts for kudos with the B button and left analog stick (for wheelies and endos). Before each tournament you must make your decision for a car or a bike carefully (since you are stuck with the same vehicle for the duration of the tournament). If it is a city like new york with giant straights in it, then choosing a bike will get you slaughtered because of its poor top speed. On the other hand, a motorbike would fare equally as well on a twisty track as a car would.
On the sound front, the soundtrack is what you would expect from PGR games up to now, except there is probably a greater variety this time around (from indy, to hip hop, to classical). For some reason I seem to find Mozart incredibly suited to high-speed races :D. Obviously you can listen to your hard drive music as in all games. The engine sounds are great and unique but are quite overpowering on the default setting.
Now for the negatives. Whilst the ice settings are very realistic, they make winning near-impossible and you HAVE to race in it on a certain championship in single player. As for the snow settings they don't seem realistic enough as they are relatively easy to race on. As some of you may know, driving in heavy snow at low speeds in real life is a difficult challenge, let alone going at 100mph.
I have found the frame rate stuttering sometimes in rainy races where all the cars are kicking up spray. Whether this is a fault with my machine or the game I don't know, but it is certainly present. Despite the huge range of cars, you will probably never use most of them because one or two cars will tend to stand out in each class.
Overall then, this is definitely a must have game if you are a racer fan, or indeed any gamer, and it is a more enjoyable alternative to simulation games like Forza (imo). This game will keep you entertained for a long time to come. If you're on the fence about this game I hope this review has persuaded you to go for it. You won't regret it.