Another spin around the track
Project Gotham Racing 4
Developer: Bizarre Creations
Platform: Xbox 360
Price: $59.99 (Shop.Ars)
Rating: E (Everyone)
The Project Gotham Racing series have been headline games for Microsoft's Xbox consoles. PGR2 was a major hit with fans on the original Xbox, and PGR3, with its good looks, was a launch title for the Xbox 360. I enjoyed the last release, although a lot of fans felt let down compared to PGR2, and we've been waiting these last two years to see if Bizarre Creations and Microsoft could pull another rabbit out the hat. So with that, on with the show!
As with the previous installments of the series, PGR4 isn't just a straight racing game, where your objective is to make it to the finish line before anyone else. There are straight races, but unlike in Gran Turismo or Forza, you don't win credits, you gain kudos points, and there are more ways of winning these points than simply coming in first place. Perhaps more in common with a skateboarding game, showboating earns you points. Lurid slides, drifts and jumps all score you kudos, and the more kudos you earn, the more of the game you can unlock.
As with most racing games, there's an arcade mode for "pick up and play," and a more involved career mode where you progress through the ranks, earning your stripes. This being an Xbox 360 title, there's the ever-present and ever-excellent Xbox Live for multiplayer, plus a basic livery editor and a place to watch replays. Upon starting the game, you're first asked to pick a nationality; this will become important in multiplayer games, where teams are organized based upon which flag the drivers are competing under. This might have been inspired by the A1GP series, but given the trouble they seem to be finding themselves in, let's hope PGR4 can do better.
After picking your flag, you'll notice something else. The characters in front of you might be wearing helmets, but they're not garbed in virtual nomex; those are bike leathers! Yes, PGR4 isn't just about going fast on four wheels, and it now includes motorbikes, a subject I'll come back to later. So you pick your flag, you choose a helmet and some colors, and then it's time to go racing.
Just like before, the game takes place in different cities across the world, with locations from prior games being included, along with some new ones. The developers have also finally had a good hard look at real street circuits, and as a result have reprofiled a lot of corners to leave a bit of room on the outside, so two-wide through the turns is now a possibility. But whereas before you only had to worry about racing during the day or night, now things have become more interesting with the addition of weather conditions; rain, fog, and even snow are on the cards.
Fog in effect