Style over substance
In terms of realism, it seems that the PGR series has never really made its mind up. Realistic enough to simulate real world vehicles, yet unrealistic enough to allow you to drift effortlessly around corners and to put a warning up at the beginning of the game stating that no one should ever drive like you are encouraged to in the game. Still, this indecisive nature has always been the charm of PGR.
So, what’s new? We’ll start with the not so amazing configuration of the Kudos system. Drifting around bends and pulling off stunts still earns you Kudos – points which go towards winning championships and buying new car. In PGR4, every 100 Kudos you earn in quick succession earns you a star, giving you a Kudos bonus the next time you pull off a stunt. Apart from having an event dedicated to how many stars you can earn in a set time, however, this really doesn’t offer anything new.
Now we have the mediocre out of the way, we can move on to bigger improvements to the game; the racetracks. Locations from previous games have been reused along with a few racetracks, but new ones now feature tighter corners and narrower lanes than in previous games, making racing a tense experience and a true test of driving skill.
The game has still stuck with the progression of the medal system, but has dedicated it with its own single player Arcade Mode. A second single player mode,
Car and bike engines roar out of the television at such tremendous clarity and volume
Career Mode, offers players the chance to progress through a racing calendar and take part in events to earn themselves the position of the greatest Project Gotham racer. The system goes through a racing calendar, landing on various different dates, some offering the chance to win new cars, some giving you the chance to take part in up to 4 tournaments (depending on your rank). Although this system does take away a majority of freedom of choice, it always ensures that you are given a variety of new challenges. Besides, if you don’t like it, you can always go back to classic Arcade Mode and win yourself those medals.
Finally, onto the biggest and most obvious improvement of the lot: the bikes. It is incredibly hard to find flaws with the bikes and makes you wonder why the series didn’t start off with them in the first place. Driving them feels incredibly satisfying, pelting it down straights, smoothly curving corners and pulling off wheelies, driving them – especially from a 1st person perspective- is guaranteed to offer you a least one ‘Wow!’ moment in the game. Cars haven’t changed a huge amount, but then again, they never really needed to.
Graphics are of a high standard as always, although you can’t help but feel they could have been worked on a little more in terms of reflections and details on the car when thrown into a collision.
Sound, however, is almost frightening. Car and bike engines roar out of the television at such tremendous clarity and volume that they could tear your ears off if you’re not prepared (I should know, I played it with Surround speakers on and am currently holding my ears in place with Blu-Tac until someone can find something stronger). The sound effects really do compliment the realism of these vehicles and heightens the enjoyment of high speed racing. The soundtrack also does the game fantastic justice, blasting out various different genres of music (including classical), and all (strangely) fitting in fantastically.
It is very hard to find fault with PGR4. At times the difficulty does jump around midway through a series of events and some courses do favour one vehicle over another, making races with both cars and bikes a little one-sided at times and perhaps difficult for beginners, but the game gives you plenty of practice and the chance to change the difficulty level, so it in no way gives you impossible feats to accomplish.
With loads of vehicles to unlock, two extensive single player modes, great online and a load of achievements to unlock, this is an extensive racing game which is sure to please fans of both ultra-realistic and over the top racers alike.
The Bad: Difficulty of AI can sometimes alter midway through a series of races, Not a huge amount of things have changed