Friday, November 2, 2007

Review: Rev your engines with "Project Gotham Racing 4"

If you are a fan of racing and own a 360, you should take "Project Gotham Racing 4" for a spin.

Bizarre Creations, who developed "Project Gotham Racing 3" for the Xbox 360, decided to keep their original formula and add some new twists. The new ingredients? Motorcycles, dynamic weather conditions and a sweet photo mode. The result? One of the best racing

When you start playing the game, you can choose between Arcade mode and Career Mode. You can also choose between Time Attack and Custom Matches. You can go on Xbox Live and prove yourself in Ranked Matches.

You can drive most of the 120 cars and bikes at the start of the game. As you progress, you can unlock several other cars and bikes to use in Arcade and Career Modes. Some of the sweet whips are BMWs, Ferraris and even some classic cars (Shelby Mustang GT, Fiats). And guess what? There are more on the way, thanks to downloadable car packs.

In this installment, Bizarre has added new tracks, a new feature called "PGR on Demand," which allows drivers to save their favorite races, driving ghosts (it's a transparent car/bike that mimics what you did during races) and vehicle shots and share them over Live. You can even search for the longest slide, wheelie, endo and drifts from all Live racers. The photo mode is very intense - and after you save your shots (I have a sweet one of me doing an endo on a bike right before I crashed into a wall), if your Live friends have the game, they can see your shots. This feature is a definite welcome addition.

The game also supports Microsoft's 360 Wireless Racing Wheel.

Of course, what would a PGR game be without kudos? What's cool is - bikes and cars have different kudo systems. For bikes (and cars, if they can do it!), catch some serious air, hit an endo and do a clean section (basically, racing through a section of track without hitting anything) to boost your rep. You can use your kudos to buy even more items - especially access to cars - in the PGR Shop. Some of the items you can buy at the shop include new tracks, cars, bikes and helmets.

As far as kudos, you can earn a ton of them. You can earn kudos offline and on Live. You can earn general kudos for catching air, two wheels, driving a clean section and not hitting cones. There are other kudos, including speed kudoes, style kudos, racing kudos and bike kudos.

The dynamic weather is absolutely the best new feature in "PGR4." You can enable fog, rain, ice and snow - and trust me - those conditions aren't cosmetic. When it rains, your speedy bike gets even harder to handle. Ice and snow? Forget it.

I tested the dynamic weather and decided to have it snow. As I went around corners in my Concept Dodge Challenger, I was fishtailing like an 18-wheeler on an icy overpass. I had completely forgot I had enabled snow and icepacks were ruining my flow.

The other feature is the precise driving. Other driving games for the 360 sometimes fall short on offering the feel of speed and don't offer tight controls. Not "PGR4." As I stated earlier, "PGR4" is what-you-see conditions. If it's fog, slow down. If it's snowing, slow down. Otherwise, risk having Mother Nature put you into a wall like she's Tony Stewart in his Home Depot mobile. Seriously, the weather conditions really affect driving - and that totally rocks.

The graphics? Killer. You can notice the details in the car. Having driven a 5 series Beamer a few months ago, getting behind the virtual wheel was awesome. Bizarre really did an excellent job recreating the cockpit of these exotics. The backgrounds are detailed - and the crowds aren't static either. The cars and bikes are also faithfully reproduced. I can't wait to see the downloadable cars that Bizarre will offer. Bring it on, Bizarre!

The final feature I want to touch on is multiplayer. Yes, "PGR4" has it ... and executes it well. Up to 8 racers can battle it out online or via system link. Two players can battle split-screen on one Xbox 360. You can also build a global racing community online as well. All you need is a Gold Live account.

"PGR4," as well as "PGR3" supports custom soundtracks. However, "PGR4" has a pretty diverse soundtrack as well, with everything from classical to classical hip hop! Just kidding, but there's techno, hip hop and a vast selection for even picky listeners.

The sounds in game are insane. You can hear the constant hum of a bike as you stomp the accelerator. On my 5.1 system, it rocks. And you can definitely hear when an opponent wants to overtake you.

Combining the new, dynamic weather features, motorcycles, the intense photo mode and more cars and tracks really makes this one unbeatable title. If you the competition, get ready to hand over your pinks.

Why should I care: It's one of the best racing titles on the 360. If you love driving fast and want to without making Court TV, you should steer your way to a game store near you.

The good: Where do I start? The selection of cars and bikes, the sweet graphics, the dynamic weather conditions, the excellent and solid controls, downloadable content, multiplayer, online and offline modes, killer sounds, ability to share photos with Live buddies and other folks and "PGR on Demand"

The bad: No downloadable cars right now! ;-)

The ugly: My endo that ended in a wall

Overall: 9 (out of 10): I tried my best to find something wrong with this game, and I couldn't. The only real gripe is it's not open sandbox (like "Test Drive Unlimited"). I also wish there was more customization in the game, as well as working windshield wipers. I would absolutely LOVE to see Bizarre offer F1 race cars in a downloadable car pack. Now, if that happens, I would definitely raise this score a bit! Small details, but still - this game is sick. If you love driving, you have to give this game some gas. See you in the winner's circle!

No comments: