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Project Gotham Racing 4 Review
developer: Bizarre Creations
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Oct 02, 07 (released)
|» All About Project Gotham Racing 4 on ActionTrip|
Bizarre Creations has made their mark over the years; with games like The Club and Geometry Wars, and especially with the Project Gotham Racing series. Since the release of the original Xbox, Bizarre has been playing a key role in selling Xbox units.
Fast forward to 2007 and, sure enough, PGR is still around and into its fourth installment. With this game, the team tries to harness the power of next-generation hardware for maximum gameplay effect.
Now if you have played PGR before you know that a lot of the gameplay mechanics revolve around the concept of Kudos - essentially style points you earn by performing well-timed skids at high speeds as you enter and exit bends.
Bizarre takes the concept of Kudos and combines it with various time, cone and other challenges, most classical of which are the head to head and championship races.
This time around, the Gotham Career mode is the bread and butter of the gameplay. You go from a completely anonymous dead-last amateur driver, making your way through the ranks to reach Pro and ultimately Master level. Championships come and go on the calendar as you earn Kudos to uncover new cars and bikes, as well as unlock more gameplay modes.
Bizarre has made efforts to make the career mode a more personalized experience. I couldn't really claim that they utterly succeeded in this, but at least this is a step up in the series overall. Certain other racing games do a much better job here, however.
On the other hand, the core component of PGR 4, the driving itself, is deceptively well done. When I first took the game for a spin, I wasn't at all blown away by the visuals, nor was I expecting all that much in the gameplay department. To be honest with you, we've seen enough next-gen games already not to swoon at each new pretty title that comes out. That's not to say that PGR 4 doesn't look good - it's just within the realm of what you'd expect from a 360 racing game - in motion anyway.
Getting back to the gameplay, at first, PGR 4 felt really hard - it's as if I had to make an effort just to stay away from the 4th (last) spot in amateur mode. But that's just it, as I got more and more into it, I realized how many subtle changes have been made to the physics model, making the driving not realistic, but fine-tuned so that it takes a certain amount of skill, really good timing at each bend to be good at it. I played Gotham Career mode on Normal level of difficulty and the challenging nature of the races felt very well tuned. The same goes for any number of different racing types.
Surprisingly, the weather effects would never drastically change the racing conditions. In this case, however, this is a good thing. Being arcade in nature, the driving feels very unforced and fluent, with clear emphasis on fun and the skill factor as it relates to game design. Sure, your car will handle differently on a slippery road, but this is also fine-tuned not to feel realistic, but fun within the rules of good game design.
Your opponents' AI is in total support of this concept as well; it's tolerably good, so that it doesn't make the whole thing frustrating for the player.
8.8 Very Good
Fun gameplay, lots of sudden skill-based elements to it, bikes, online features;
Gotham Career can get old, bizarre (pardon the pun) selection of some music tracks, relies too much on classic driving modes and variations of.