Tag Archives: forza motorsport

Project Gotham Racing 4 [Xbox 360] – Review

PGR4

Project Gotham Racing 4 was ostensibly the final game in the series. For the sake of this article, I’m going to pretend Ferrari Edition for the Zune HD doesn’t exist. I have past experience with the series, having sunk a material amount of time into the third entry early on in my Xbox 360 ownership. My memories of that playthrough are gone now, but I’ve always associated quality and differentiation with the series. My recent playthrough of this title backs that claim up further and highlighted a game that has held up, and I presume, will hold up for many years to come.

Developed by Bizarre Creations and published by Microsoft, the series was their answer for an exclusive Xbox racing series before Forza Motorsport. Debuting as a launch title for the original Xbox in 2001, PGR was an extension of Bizarre Creations’ Metropolis Street Racer, released a year prior on the Dreamcast. After Forza’s debut in 2005, the two coexisted for a few years before Bizarre Creations was acquired by Activision. While Turn 10 Studios was chasing realism with the Forza series, Bizarre Creations was always melding the realism of supercars with the sensibilities of a more approachable racing game.

I spent most of my time racing like I do driving, looking out through the interior of my ride.
I spent most of my time racing like I do driving, looking out through the interior of my ride.

In my eyes, one of the most prominent differentiating features of the series are the settings. Rather than rely on established racetracks like most racing games, the developers instead use well-known cities for backdrops. Courses take place throughout city streets and as a result, variations are bountiful. After my dozen or so hours with this title, I had remembered the routes I’d driven throughout the cities, and could piece together the components that different variations shared. When one variation might take a left, another one might go straight, for instance. This practice was an efficient use of the cities, as I was able to race on many variations, with different objectives, and in different weather, making each event feel unique.

The cities themselves were rendered with impressive detail too. It wasn’t immediately apparent to me, but after a season in the Gotham Career mode, my eyes began to take in the scenery as I’d become more familiar with the courses. The skyscrapers and landmarks that lined the courses weren’t two-dimensional, like the set of a classic western. No, you could look down the intersecting roads and alleys and see well into the distance. The many logos and name brand storefronts that lined the more populous areas made me wonder what went into the licensing process.

Speaking of a headache-inducing licensing process, this game features the largest roster of automobiles in the series, including the addition of motorcycles. Altogether, there are more than 130 available in the game with more added through DLC. Unfortunately, after the studios closure at the hands of Activision in 2011, all DLC was removed from the Xbox Live Marketplace, at least, that’s probably why. Another association I make with the series is a reliance on supercars and this release has them in spades. However, it also fills its roster with a more varied lineup of automobiles that highlight notable examples of many “scenes” with the exception of Japanese tuners.

The cities truly were rendered with a fantastic level of detail. I haven't been to Shanghai, but I know for a fact they have KFC there.
The cities truly were rendered with a fantastic level of detail. I haven’t been to Shanghai, but I know for a fact they have KFC there.

Returning to differentiating features, one of the aspects of this title that kept me hooked were the varied race types. Whereas typical races may comprise the majority of other racing games, they’re only a single event here. Other genre staples are present such as passing checkpoints to keep the clock alive, but I had the most fun with cone-based events, where I was tasked with slaloming through arranged cones. These and many other modes kept my quest for the top rank in the Gotham Career mode fresh, even when that effort got long in the tooth. With that complete, a whole other single player mode was available and went mostly untouched by me.

The game’s arcade mode featured heaps of one-off events where success was graded on a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum basis. These played up the driving with style aspect the series is known for more than the Gotham Career mode did. This aspect being the ability to earn Kudos points for performing stunts on bikes, drafting and drifting, and in general driving balls to the wall. In other words, there’s a lot to keep someone occupied here. And as best as I can tell, the multiplayer component is still available, at least as of a 2013 TrueAchievements forum thread. So the popular Cat and Mouse game type would be available via that method, although finding players may prove difficult, even on boosting forums.

Apparently, John Cena has a side career as an enthusiast motorcycle racer and no, you still can't see him.
Apparently, John Cena has a side career as an enthusiast motorcycle racer and no, you still can’t see him.

I started playing Project Gotham Racing 4 as a change of pace while I sunk seventy odd hours into Lost Odyssey (I still haven’t written a write-up of that!?). It was able to hold my interest enough to branch off into a full-fledged playthrough afterwards, and was enjoyable enough that I’m considering diving into another racing game sooner rather than later. I can walk away from my time with PGR4 impressed with the efforts exerted from Bizarre Creations. It’s still a sharp-looking game today with fantastic backdrops and beautiful interior and exterior car models. Gameplay was fast and crisp, especially from the first-person perspective and I encountered visual hiccups maybe once. Most importantly though the game itself was a joy and there was no shortage of things for me to do.

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Random Game #13 – Forza Motorsport 2 [Xbox 360]

Forza Motosport 2When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

Just yesterday I wrote about R: Racing Evolution and commented that until Forza Motorsport arrived on the Xbox, it was the best bet on that platform. It’s fitting then that I write about this game so soon afterwards. To date, Forza Motorsport 2 is the only title in the franchise that I’ve given extended playtime to. It was one of the earlier games I owned for the Xbox 360 and I played it a great deal. It’s something I still think about returning to in order to clean up some achievements. The game’s damage was something mostly unseen in this style of racing game, as was the graphical customization system, and the breadth of online functionality – including an auction house. It was a feature-rich racing game and one of the early greats of last generation.

Forza Motorsport 2 was developed by Turn 10 Studios and published in North America by Microsoft Game Studios on May 29, 2007.

Random Game #11 – R: Racing Evolution [GameCube]

R Racing EvolutionWhen you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

Like Super Monkey Ball 2, R: Racing Evolution was another game that I acquired through the local Sam’s Club bargain bin. It’s a simulation racing game from Namco and is a spin-off from their Ridge Racer series. Compared to the more hardcore console simulation games from the generation in question, this game is a little lacking. At the time, Gran Turismo 4 and Forza Motorsport hadn’t released yet, but Gran Turismo 3 was the de facto standard. For owners of the Xbox or GameCube though, this was arguably the next best example. This game had something neither of those series did though and that’s a story. It followed the unexpected racing career of Rena Hayami and I can still remember how cool it was to hear the team manager patch in to her during the races.

The game was developed and published by Namco. It was released in North America on December 9, 2003 (nearly 11 years to the date!) and was available for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube. The Player’s Choice rerelease on the GameCube includes Pac-Man Vs. so that’s cool.

Forza Motorsport 4 – Demo Impressions

It's got a Ferrari on the cover but OutRun this is not.

Simulation racing games are not my favorite genre but I’ve dabbled with them in the past. I was very big into Gran Turismo 4 and spent a fair amount of time with Forza Motorsport 2; I still get the urges to get back into it, but that’s pretty much it for sim racing games. But perhaps it’s time for me to pick another one up. Forza Motorsport 4 was released today but I have only played its demo.

The demo consisted of one track, a beautiful one set in the Alps, and a few cars. The cars, and the game for that matter, were absolutely gorgeous. The track was scenic and idealistic, as were the cars; you’ll never find one with paint as glossy as it is here.

I said these cars were shiny and I meant it.

As has become standard for the series, the user interface is very easy to interpret and navigate. Matched with a minimalistic soundtrack and it’s a very modern game. Also standard for the series are the helpful driving assists. Driving and braking lines are available to help find the best path as well as more technical assists, upping the difficulty, and the rewards when turned off.

Racing around the Alps was fun, but I found the AI a little easy. I quickly gained the lead and kept it. To be fair, I probably didn’t have the difficulty adjusted too hard. The feature I got the most enjoyment out of the demo however was the rival races.

In these races, I tried to beat the time trial set by someone on my friends list. They could challenge me and I would drive the car they picked and try to post a faster time. When I raced I saw their ghost and once I beat their time, I could send them a message challenging them to beat my time. It was nice to be able to immediately notify them to make sure they knew to attempt it.

The Top Gear test track is in the game so now you can compete against the stars in cars.

Forza Motorsport 4 is a killer racing game and continues to represent simulation racing games well. The game looked really nice and it wasn’t too hard to get sucked into the thrill of racing against my friends. I wish the demo had a glimpse of the Autovista feature where Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame talks about a car, but I don’t need a demo to let me know that’ll be fantastic. To the right person, Forza Motorsport 4 will be a metaphoric supercar, the pinnacle of racing games and an opportunity to spend hundreds of hours competing against like-minded people. For me, it’s a chance to sucked into a sim racing game again. Forza Motorsport 4 was developed by Turn 10 Studios and published by Microsoft Studios today for the Xbox 360.

Links:

Forza Motorsport 4
Turn 10 Studios
Microsoft Studios