PAX 2007: Project Gotham Racing 4 hands on

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I want to preface this post by saying that I had my driver’s license suspended almost a month ago. Through a combination of driving like Batman and driving like Batman while under the influence of drugs, alcohol and Dragonforce, I managed to anger up my local constabulary enough to have them snatch from me the one true sign of being an adult: the ability to navigate a two ton piece of metal dangerously close to other people. As such, my driving abilities — especially in games — are the sort that would make for a good Roger Corman film or a bad Ron Howard film.

My inability to function in either real of virtual life aside, Project Gotham Racing 4 is sort of a mixed bag. While it does look phenomenal — try not to pee when you see the lighting effects bouncing off the hood of your car — there really isn’t much to it that you didn’t already see in its third iteration.

Hit the jump for the full rundown. 

“But Nex” I hear you say “it’s supposed to be similar! It’s a driving game! How much can you add to a game that is fundamentally about driving fast from point A to point L?” And to that, my only answer is to hold up a copy of Forza 2. They managed to shoehorn in a lot of extras that weren’t present in the first one and while Gotham does have minute extras, the racing itself — y’know, the entire meat of the game — remains almost entirely unchanged.

The big addition to the entire thing is the motorcycles. Unfortunately, in the mad dash to out-do reality, they implemented the stunning revelation that driving a motorcycle next to a car at nearly 200 MPH generally results in the car smashing your face in and murdering your eyeballs. I like what they’re going for here, as variety is the spice of life, but racing bikes against supercars simply isn’t that fun unless your bike is equipped with missiles and a flamethrower. Yes, I know my personal ideas on what should be in the game fly in the face of the realism they’re aiming for, but oftentimes, reality bites. Thank you Ethan Hawke! 

For some the similarity to the previous title may be seen as a good thing. If you enjoyed Project Gotham Racing 3 and simply want more of it, you’re in luck because that’s exactly what you’re getting. They’ve added cars, they’ve added the motorcylces, they’ve added tracks, they fancied-up the graphics and the entire thing runs without a hitch. In that regard, it’s a stunning achievement, or, at least, it would be if they hadn’t already done so well with their launch version of the series.

On the upside, when I say they “fancied-up” the graphics, mentally I added in a bunch of swears and a metaphor about how the game is like a beautiful Brazilian woman lying on the beaches of Rio with an adorable simian companion. On its release it will be the prettiest racing game available, even eclipsing the aforementioned Forza 2.

I guess, in the end, it’s a matter of personal taste. I was hoping for more from the team that brought us not only Gotham but the incredibly addictive Geometry Wars, and while they gave us more, at least on this play through, it wasn’t quite enough for me. 

[Muchas Gracias a for the picture and forcing me to type en Español.]

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Image of Earnest Cavalli
Earnest Cavalli
I'm Nex. I used to work here but my love of cash led me to take a gig with Wired. I still keep an eye on the 'toid, but to see what I'm really up to, you should either hit up my Vox or go have a look at the Wired media empire.