Project Gotham Racing 4 Reader Review

Brouhaha. That's something you get a lot of when you try to fish out information regarding PGR4 on the net. Weather effects! More cars! More tracks! Bikes!

First and foremost, let me tell you - don't get too excited about the bikes. Though a lot of hard work has gone in this feature, ultimately it sucks. Why? You can't realistically pit bikes against cars in real world, and consequently you don't feel any pressing need to do so in the game. The handling of the bikes is diluted and user-friendly, which will fail to arouse your interest if you are a car enthusiast and will fare very poorly if bikes are your thing. Get MotoGP 07, then.

With that out of the way, we have a game that is little short of brilliant. The cars' handling is perhaps the most entertaining ever in a racing game. I cannot praise that enough. It is the perfect balance between sim and arcade, and you couldn't go wrong with that kind of approach. What it boils down to is that while driving the Audi RS4 (my favorite car within the game), you will rejoice in its sure-footed Quattro grip, relishing it in corners, meanwhile not suffering the notorious nose-heaviness that real-world drivers of this car do. In other words, the best bits about each car are all in, the iffy ones have been banished to the litter can labeled 'This is NOT a sim!'. Brilliant, clever, and FUN.

The challenges themselves are amazingly varied and entertaining. There are speed traps, hot laps, and good old races. Every day, every hour there is something new to do. One slight gripe here is that the Gold ones seem a little too easy, while Platinum ones are way too difficult. But perhaps that's just me. Another, even slighter, gripe is that the initial challenges in the arcade mode tend to skew towards nighttime tracks - and I cannot get rid of truly traumatic memories of NFS Underground games.

What about the weather effects, you ask. Well, they are there, but ultimately they are no big deal (sorry, Bizarre). They do affect the gameplay but they seem to affect your car more, that's why they are not entirely pleasant. They are great to look at, though and those lightning flashes in the night will sure make life miserable for you.

Much has been said about the graphics. With due apologies, I think they are underwhelming. I can still see a lot of jaggies, and the lighting is just not convincing in the same way as that in the Gran Turismo games is. Somehow the individual components are all there, but they fail to coalesce into a realistic whole - you can see individual flashes of brilliance in the artwork and the game design (building, reflections in your bonnet, car interiors), yet failings in other areas jar and ultimately kill the illusion of actually being there.

Another complaint is that the rumble in the gamepad feels curiously muted. Forget about feeling the texture of the road in your hands.

That said, there is plenty of compensation. Track design is beyond brilliant - I don't recall enjoying it more in any other racing game. Buildings are rendered in so much detail that you won't believe your eyes while in the photo mode. The cars themselves are so accurate you will hardly notice them (funny, but true). The interiors have been rendered in loving detail.

So there you have it. A fitting finale to the series which you should buy for the driving fun alone, not bikes, not weather, and not graphics. So it's a 9 then.

No, wait. I have my issues. You could fairly say that the issues I mention are common to all racing games on the 360, but PGR being arguably the flagship, it should have risen above. The first issue is that loading times are a little on the long side.

The second issue is: why can't I save my replays and my screenshots on anything other than the hard drive? Hell, GT4 allowed me to copy the screenshots on USB and take them anywhere. No such luck with next-gen gaming! And I would have appreciated the ability to export those replays as video files and play them on my PC. Again, something that Xpand Rally allowed me to do three years ago.

Ah, well, its still a 9.

9 / 10

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