For a launch title, Project Gotham 3 was impressive. Great graphics and some enjoyable racing made for a title now found in most gamers collections. Nearly two years later, Bizarre has turned it on once more, giving us the same fantastic graphics and game play we’ve come to expect, whilst lengthening the vehicle list and improving online play. Not to mention a brand new weather system, four new cities and bikes!
First and foremost, graphically the game is absolutely stunning. One of the most impressive visual additions is the introduction of a weather system. Ice, snow, fog and lots of rain will all be encountered and not only does it look fantastic, but it also impacts on the gameplay as Bizarre seem to have placed huge puddles of water right where you’d like to be braking.
The two years Bizarre have had to get to know the 360 have certainly paid off when you look at the cars and the tracks. The cars are superbly detailed, and look extremely realistic due mainly to the new lighting systems employed. Though the bikes are new to the series, they aren’t slackers in the looks department; entering the series with highly detailed models.
In game sound is even more impressive than the visuals. Every car and motorbike has an individual and distinctive sound that differs with the camera angle being used. The engine and exhaust sounds are also very different too. The soundtrack isn’t bad either, a decent selection of songs from a wide variety of genres, including a good mix of well known and ‘underground’ tracks.
What are graphics though unless the gameplay is equally good and there are plenty of modes to experience it in? Luckily Project Gotham slacks on neither. The main single player mode is the Gotham Career mode, which is quite different from what we’ve seen before. The goal is to become the top ranked driver in the world by competing in events scheduled in your calendar. As you win races, the events that open up to you become more prestigious worth more points. The career mode makes use of a number of a number of challenges, including eliminator, slalom like gate challenges, cone challenges and eliminator, in addition to the standard races.
The selection of cars available in the game is remarkable, with a huge roster to choose from. The arcade like feel the cars have make it easy to pick up and play so to speak, but the feel is not so far away from simulation that it could be mistaken for the latest iteration of Mario Kart.
As previously alluded to, for the first time on the 360, Project Gotham has brought bikes with it. The choice on two wheels is as vast as it is on four, with a long list of bikes here. Everything from a touring Buell RR 1200, the GP style GSXR1000 or CBR1000 and the extremely powerful MV Augusta F4, they’re all here. Bikes are really easy to drive and have a slightly arcade feel to them. They handle well and the braking is smooth and just seems a little too simple. Couple this with the huge acceleration advantage they have over the cars and it all just seems a little in balanced.
As always the online play is fantastic. You can log onto Xbox Live and race in individual and team events in an assortment of game modes. Online the game was lag free and kept up a consistent frame rate. There’s also the PGR on demand service to play around with. On it you can upload photos and replays for others to watch and rate.
Project Gotham Racing 4 has once again raised the bar for racing games on the 360. The addition of motorbikes and the stunning weather system has change the face of Project Gotham. This makes it all the more disappointing that this could very well be the last iteration of Project Gotham we see after Bizarre Creations was sold to Activision, if it is, PGR 4 certainly is a sweet swansong.