Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Project Gotham Racing 4

Developer: Bizarre Creations
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: Oct. 2, 2007
Systems: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: Geometry Wars Racer

0:01 A car porn intro. flies in quick succession between Las Vegas, New York City, St. Petersburg, London, Quebec, Macau, Tokyo, Shanghai, the Michelin Test Track and Nurburgring. Wait, what was that second to last one? Who cares about a test track when you've got that amazing list of cities.

Customizing cars is for chumps. Customizing riders is where it's at. I can choose all sorts of crazy colors and designs for my driving suit. Whoohoohoohoo! Yeah!

0:06 Let's start with arcade mode. The "Catch Me If You Can" event sounds intriguing. I mean, I did like the movie.

0:08 To start I have my choice of a selection of crappy cars. If I want more I need to earn kudos in races for performing drifts and such. I like how difficulty options transcend the usual Bronze through Gold paradigm to include Steel and Platinum on the extremes. I don't like how you have to choose your achievement level before the start. Can't they just give you whatever you earned based on performance at the end?

0:10 One lap done and I already have over 500 kudos. The things are falling like candy for "clean sections" and "nice corners." I'm not even trying, here.

0:11 I come in third mainly because I accidentally hit the handbrake button and crash after unpausing. I only paused, incidentally, to write that note at minute-mark ten. Don't say I never sacrifice for my readers. Oh I do!

0:14 This time I try and get too fancy with the powerslides and end up in third again. Apparently when you're going two miles an hour in a dinky little car you don't need to go nuts on the powerslides. My mistake.

0:16 My third try nets me first place easily. I barely used the brake this time. Turns out I'm in the top 37% on Xbox Live. Nice of the game to calculate that for me.

0:19 Course No. 2 (Venice) has some extremely sharp turns and narrow alleys. So much for the learning curve. Seems more like a learning wall at this point.

0:20 The loading when you restart a race is annoying, but not overly so. About 20 seconds from finish to start, overall.

0:30 After six restarts on the Venice track, I finally manage to finish a race without crashing into a wall. I'm still in fourth, though, mainly because I'm getting beat on the straightaways. Maybe a less crappy car is in order.

0:31 Seems I can't afford a better car yet. OK... maybe I'll try my one and only bike.

0:34 Not only does the bike have better pickup and maneuverability than the car, but you can also see the driver make cool gesture when he passes another car. Sign me up.

0:39 I pause to restart a race that's going badly and I get distracted by the photo mode. I spend the next five minutes positioning my racer and taking dramatic photos of him from all angles. The special effects are nuts -- there's even an f-stop option. They should have called this game Project PHOTO Racer 4.

0:40 Even with the bike, I can't seem to finish higher than fourth on this freakin' track. Enough of this nonsense, on to the oddly named "Drifto 101."

0:43 Apparently the nearly 200 Kudo "points" I earned are only worth 13 Kudo "stars." That would be enough for a bronze medal, but since I chose to go for the gold, I get nothing. Sigh.

0:46 I'm coming to the conclusion that I pretty much suck at this game. I keep hitting walls, I can't pull off drifts correctly, and overall I'm just too heavy on the accelerator. For the most part I blame myself instead of the game, which I suppose is a testament to the beauty and simplicity of the controls. Still, this is pretty unforgiving. I mean, I'm no slouch at driving games in general.

0:52 Weaving between carefully placed cones in "cone mode" is a little more my speed, but even here I can't even manage a silver on the first try. This game requires some pretty insanely careful driving, which might not be for everyone.

0:57 Knowing the course a bit and driving a lot more carefully, I come out with the Silver. This is a much more tactical driving experience than I was expecting. Everything is about precision of speed and curves. It's pretty elegant when you get it to work, though.

0:58 I unlock the "Best of British" pack and get some cars from companies I've never heard of. Norton? Vanwall? Mazda? Wait, I guess that last one wasn't part of the pack...

1:00 Speed camera mode is interesting... it only cares about speed at certain key points on the track. The Silver goes down easy... Platinum, not so much. Still, I like the variety past "finish in first place" mode.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? Despite the difficulty I've had so far, I feel like I'd have fun learning to get better.

This review based on a retail copy provided by Microsoft.


Dan said...

This game definitely sounds like something I might like. It seems like a good game on multiple levels. Thanks for the good review.

Tim said...

It's better to think of the medals as levels of difficulty, instead of as medals in the Olympic sense.