|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Bizarre Creations||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 2, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
At the very beginning of the game before you are able to go as much as 1 MPH, this game gives it to you straight. You are privy to a rather lengthy disclaimer. The gist of it basically says that you should never, under any circumstances, drive the way that you can in Project Gotham 4. I am not normally one to derive much about a game from a simple disclaimer, but in this case this disclaimer showed some insight into this game's future. Because you wouldn't think that the general gamer would think about driving the way they see in an arcade-style racing game. But when you start playing, you realize that there's a whole lot more under Project Gotham Racing 4's hood then just an arcade game. This game is an experience.
The very first thing I noticed when I took control of my vehicle and started racing was the realistic control scheme. Sure, it's not Forza, but for an arcade-style racing game, this one hits it pretty hard. The controls are extremely sensitive, and you have to hit them just right. And there's no such thing as lazy driving. What I mean by lazy driving is just hitting the acceleration, brake and turning. There's no real skill involved, you only essentially "go through the motions." Not so in Project Gotham Racing 4. You have to time every gear shift, every drift, and every tilt of your steering precisely to get your desired result. It is truly the most realistic racing arcade game I have ever played. It was so realistic that I now understood why there was that disclaimer at the beginning. Once you get the hang of this game, you might start thinking you really can drive like a pro!
It's important to state, however, that these controls, while they might be enjoyable for automotive simulator-type games, may be a little off-putting for those used to a simpler arcade-style approach. But the good news is that while these controls certainly mimic the sim controls, they're easy enough to pick up that the standard gamer should be able to get pretty comfortable with them after a few rounds.
However, as impressive as the control scheme was, there was another factor of the game that is immediately noticeable and instantly impressive. The visuals. From the cars to the track, everything in this game looks absolutely beautiful. And the different locales that you visit are brought to life so well that they take on a near-photorealistic quality. Especially in the sequences that occur when your traveling between continents to race, the career mode gives you a little preview of the tracks in the new continent. And these previews could easily be mistaken for camera footage; they're really that good.
One of the really great things about Project Gotham Racing is all the different ways you can play. There are the standard challenges: the race, time trial, the drift challenge, but there are many other types of stages. You'll be doing everything from pass challenges where you have to overtake a certain number of cars to cone challenges where you have to knock down a certain number of cones on the track. There's also a new Kudos system adds a whole new level of depth to the gameplay. What the Kudos system does is essentially reward you for driving exceptionally well and doing things like extra drifts and clearing hairpin turns without hitting the sides of the track. Accrue enough Kudos points, and you can purchase new tracks and vehicles. And when you pull off a super-sweet move, you get a Kudos star. And many challenges are also based around your ability to pull off these sweet moves. And while sometimes these challenges can get admittedly frustrating, if you hang in there for long enough, you'll suddenly be able to hit your marks just right and pull off some pretty excellent driving maneuvers.