The PGR series was one of those games that looked great on the first Xbox and has just kept looking great.
The driving has always been a bit weird to me — the single-player game emphasizes “kudos,” which you get for doing such actions as sliding around through a turn, etc. I always found that a bit weird, partly because I wasn’t any good at it.
PGR4 adds a few things to the game. The biggest two things (to me) are weather effects and motorcycles.
The weather effects include a volumetric fog. “What’s that mean?” you ask, and I’d have to say, “I’m not completely certain.” But what it looks like is the most realistic fog that I’ve seen yet, filling in an area yet slowly revealing features as you get closer, much like a real fog. In addition, the fog will stay to lower areas — race around a track with parts that are higher up, and the air will get progressively clearer.
There’s not just fog. You have rain and snow, too, plus puddles and ice on the ground. These will affect your driving ability though not as much as you might expect, according to the developer. It’s not a perfectly realistic, but it does add some changes to it. The weather is intended to make the game more fun, not necessarily that much harder.
Plus there are motorcycles now. PGR4 features approximately 95 cars and 25 motorcycles. However, when playing the single-player game, if you don’t want to play one type of vehicle, you don’t have to. Every track is designed to give benefits to both types of vehicles at different points — such as tight turns for the more agile motorcycles and long stretches for the faster cars. Both types of vehicles can race in the same race, but don’t worry, bikers, it’ll take a lot of work to knock you off your bike.
And Harley riders (such as myself) take heart — I did see at least one or two Harleys listed while the developer was scrolling through vehicles. I do wonder if they have the same emotes as the riders on the squid bikes. Wheelies and endos will get you kudos in the game, and I noticed one pretty cool effect: When switching between viewpoints for your car, the “in-helmet” viewpoint has the sounds muffled just like when wearing a full face helmet.
(The emotes of the motorcycle riders can be pretty fun. They’re automatic, sort of taunting the other drivers/riders.)
Speaking of tracks, all five of them from PGR3 are back, plus five more — Shanghai, Quebec City, Macau, St. Petersburg and the Michelin Race Track. The additional countries come in since part of your character creation now is working out his nationality and looking for the crowds waving your flag. The game is more about you, the driver, being the best racer possible, and not just accumulating the best cars.
Some other things they added to make it more fun was the fact that kudos come in increments now. Every 50 kudos — and I may be wrong on that number, but it’s the number I recall — is one “star.” Thus, it’s not just getting some random arbitrary number of kudos on a long power skid, for instance, but seeing “hey, I got one star last time; this time I got two!”
In addition, they changed GothamTV to PGROnDemand using the (somewhat clichй at this point) “YouTube for gamers” comparison. You can upload races that you’ve done and search them based off of tags.
PGR 4 is driving for a September release.