Project Gotham Racing 4 - Xbox 360 review

4 out of 5
£35

For

Loads of cities, gorgeous weather effects

Against

Bikes are frustrating to drive, too many jagged edges to the vehicles

What a difference a few months make. Not so long ago we were clamouring for some new racing titles to appear on our Xbox 360’s. Now we have on our hands the forth big name to hit the console in a handful of months. Talk about buses turning up at once…

This year, the car isn’t the only star in PGR4. Motorbikes are finally set to make an appearance in this long running racing series, with both two and four wheeled vehicles battling it out on the track.

Toss in the inclusion of some gorgeous weather effects, loads more tracks, tonnes more vehicles, and Microsoft are surely on to yet another winner. Let’s see where this one slots in on the grid.

Forza Motorsport 2 is the king, and despite Project Gotham Racing 4’s gorgeous attempts, it still clings on to that number one slot. Not that PGR4 doesn’t push it all the way to the finishing line.

Unlike Forza, PGR4 is all about style. The Kudos system, that awards you points for driving with the kind of flair of a young Mr Hamilton, remains. You gain points for all kinds of stylish driving, from long powerslides around sweeping bends, through to encouraging your car on to only two of its four wheels.

Cash might mean prizes everywhere else, but here Kudos are the "moolah" of choice. Your gained points via stylish driving, and winning races, can be exchanged for not only brand new sets of vehicles, but sparkingly new tracks too.

Arcade and Career modes make up the main bulk of the single player action. Arcade mode remains to be a steady stream of fast and frantic challenges, with tonnes of excitement to be had.

Career mode however loses the medal system of old. Instead of this age old style, you get a year long calendar of events. Events vary from the standard brand of racing goodness that all us gamers have always loved, through to a test of your driving skills by knocking over a set number of cones dotted around the track. A bit of a bastardised version of bowling.

The only problem is, compared to the lengthy career option of Forza Motorsport 2, PGR4 pales in comparison. While there may be a lot to do, it's lacking the real quality and devilishly complex difficulty curve that makes Forza such a stunning title.

But the real fun is in the fantastic multiplayer offering. While racing is indeed a huge source of riotous fun as it has always been, the inclusion of a wild number of variations of racing multiplayer action makes an even more impressive package.

The extra additions don’t stop there. For the first time, your races can be interrupted by both rain and snow showers, making an already slippy slidey track all the more torturous.

The rain doesn’t just make things a little trickier mind you. It also helps make the visual splendour of PGR4 all the more stunning. There’s just something about a shiny wet car speeding along a damp track that just dazzles the eye.

Roaring through the neon splendour of some of the games cities helps make for one of the most visually spectacular titles available on the 360. There’s some real quality been chucked into designing these cities, and the various tracks hidden within each one.

Set in a variety of world cities, every single track seems to have some special moment, be it a gorgeous tunnel section, or a wickedly tight turn set against a stunning backdrop. It’s a shame that the cars suffer from more jagged edges that Britney Spears’ face.

Verdict

Sadly, the biggest addition is a bit of a miss. The inclusion of motorbikes sounds interesting enough, but they just aren’t as fun to drive as the many cars available. Take a bike on the track in a mixed race and you’ll be frustrated by the annoying ease in which the cars will prevent you from overtaking by simply moving onto your racing line and bashing you to the sides of the track. Doesn’t make for a fun time the umpteenth time that happens.

It might not be quite as good as Forza, but there’s no doubt that PGR4 is a cracking racing title. Just try and avoid the bikes if you get wound up a little easily.