Review: Project Gotham Racing 4

Review: Project Gotham Racing 4
Review: Project Gotham Racing 4

If you're looking for a racing simulation on the Xbox 360, you probably already know that there's a lot of choice on the market. But one series steps it up a notch and competes head on with the Gran Turismo series found on Sony's PlayStation consoles. We're talking about Project Gotham Racing.

Bizarre Creations have taken the game numbers to a fourth entry and Project Gotham Racing 4 is hotter than ever. They've added a variety of cars, tracks, and gameplay modes as well as a hotly touted weather system that makes racing the sharp corners of a course like Nurburgring come off as simply incredible.

Loading up PGR4 for the first time, you'll find yourself with the character creation screen. Making your very own male or female race driver more or less resembles The Stig from BBC's Top Gear no matter how you dress them up but at least this helps to make it a universally accepted game. Player customisation aside, once you're in you'll be treated to a host of game play modes including a variety of arcade modes where you'll have where you can rack up points, time attack, multiplayer, a custom match mode that'll let you play any car on any track, and Gotham Career which sports a new calendar for tracking when events are on similar to the career systems in EA sports titles.

PGR4 takes what made Project Gotham 3 good and makes it better by taking that game and improving it. While the graphics haven't changed drastically, things like anti-aliasing are now turned on and the game can be said to look a whole lot better.

Motorbikes have also been thrown into the mix making this game possibly more challenging than it ever has been. While probably not the most realistic of experiences, motorbike racing is still a lot of fun but be aware that the control you'll need is astonishing. The stick tends to be very responsive. Too responsive in fact as keeping a solid line as you run through the corners can turn into disaster very easily.

New to the PGR wealth of features is the weather systems which now give you more than just the uninteresting light settings like day or overcast from past PGR games. You'll be able to select settings like storms, snow, rain, and fog and each of these will be used in game as close to what you might actually see in real life. Racing in one of the open cockpit racers, we found snow came at you in a flurry of excitement. Storms too can be fun especially if you choose something like the McLaren F1 super car which when played in the cockpit mode gives you a windscreen so small that you're unlikely to see anything beyond the wipers and the lightning.

The wealth of cars has improved and while you might sit there wishing that PGR could have as much as a variety as say a Gran Turismo game, the detail to which Bizarre Creations has done to even show the speedometer and other gauges in both the driver cockpit and full-screen racing will likely leave you speechless.

Tracks are equally impressive as places like Shanghai have been modelled almost to perfection. Streets, shops, lights and building are all there in equally high quality and while you'll be driving past it at high speeds, you'll be pretty tempted to stop and take in the scenery just to see how amazing it all looks.

Those of you who've played past PGR games will know that Bizarre Creations like to pack their games with a whole variety of extras. PGR 4 doesn't change that formula keeping some of their much beloved favourites and making them better. If you check out the garage, you'll notice that there's a new Geometry Wars Evolved arcade game to play which introduces waves of new triangles for you to blow the crap out of when you're not in the mood for running down opponents on the slick asphalt of one of the world's greatest cities.

Photo Mode has also been given a tune up with more control in how your images look including noise control, tunnel vignetting, sepia tones, and different types of blur that you can apply to your shot. When connected with the communities, you can share them with friends or send them to yourself giving PGR 4 a wealth of customisation that you can be proud of later on.

There isn't a lot to complain about with Project Gotham 4 leaving you a lot of time to focus on your in-game driving skills. Some of the things that we found could have been handled better mainly focused on the load screens and load times. The load times aren't the best and the lack of visual stimulation you get with them isn't the greatest. While they're a step up from the loading picture of past PGR games, you now get a picture with a bit of race information that changes when you press the left and right triggers. It's a small complaint but it's one we're surprised Bizarre Creations didn't put a little bit of time into and come up with something better for.

While it does have its small amount of niggles, Project Gotham Racing 4 is a piece of racing gaming art. It is what PGR 3 should've been and a worthy addition to the collection of any gamer, racing fan or otherwise.

Developer: Bizarre Creations
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Classification: G
Formats: Xbox 360
URL: Project Gotham Racing 4

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark

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