The Project Gotham Racing games have always been a big deal. The original MSR that started the whole thing off was a biggie on Sega’s Dreamcast and the PGRs since have come out with big launches of consoles. Which is why I was surprised when PGR 4 popped through my door without a procession but with a little whisper. Obviously Microsoft have blown all their marketing budget on Halo 3. However, that means it doesn’t have so much pressure to be good, and it is good, just not fantastic.
This game, as with others, isn’t about how fast you drive, it’s about how you drive fast. You get Kudos points for not hitting walls, drifting and sliding round the courses. The more points you get, the more levels you unlock and the further you can get in the game. They’ve added a few new features to this one. Some work well,some don’t. The first thing you’ll notice when you look at the box is there are now motorbikes to razz around on.
The good news it’s easier to stay on these than Moto GP, the bad news is for some reason it’s just doesn’t feel like they belong in the game, even with the ability to earn extra Kudos by popping wheelies and doing tricks. There’s also a new career mode which plays through an entire season with dates on a calendar. Weirdly, if you fail an event, there’s no option to try again. The game just moves onto the next day so you don’t get to learn from your mistakes and really nail the tracks.
One thing they have got spot on is the weather effects. You can be halfway through a race and it will teem it down which effects the way your car handles and makes it drift further. You also get heat waves which unfortunately don’t have such a severe effect.
Online this is a solid racing game and you can also watch races and clips if you don’t actually want to join in. It takes everything they did in PGR3 and tightens it all up. You still get the occasional lag with cars breaking the laws of physics and teleporting about occasionally but this is part of the perils of online play.
PGR4 is a great driving game but for me, just a little too technical. I enjoy burning round tracks in Burnout. PGR4 gets 7 out of 10.