Bizarre Creation has once again set the benchmark in the pursuit for the most realistic racing with their release of Project Gotham Racing 4 for the Xbox 360. One of the main highlights in this fourth installment is the growing sense of unity between players by faithfully capturing individual’s nationality to a whole new level. With this piece of ingenuity, you’ll be able to determine your fellow countrymen online. You’ll also see their distinct country of origin represented by a specific flag next to their gamertag. That’s not all! The customization options for Project Gotham Racing 4 are loaded with the hottest accessories—uniforms, helmets, visors, leather designs—that guarantee to define your character to be as unique as possible.

Just like its predecessor, Project Gotham Racing 4 is seriously bent on showcasing some of the hottest cars known to man. You’ll soon find out that the lineup of coveted vehicles is no longer limited to exotic hotrods. You now have access to a 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo, a 1978 Lamborghini Countach LP400, a 2008 Tesla Roadster, a 2004 Ferrari F430, a 2006 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, a 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, a 1964 Austin Mini Cooper S, a 1969 Chevy Camaro Z28, a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, and many more! In addition, pickup trucks and motorcycles are also part of the game’s library of high-performance vehicles. Bikes are a big part of the competition with top manufacturers such as Ducati, Honda, and BMW taking part in the virtual ride. Whether in single-player mode or playing with a team, you can choose to race two motorcycles side by side or race with a combination of cars and motorcycles.

You’ll discover that some tracks are better suited to bikes than cars; but in other competitions it’s sometimes the cars that get the edge. So you need to choose wisely. The best feature of Project Gotham Racing 4 is its newly revamped career mode. You’ll start as an amateur racer and eventually move through the higher ranks by competing in a long string of events. You’ll unlock new cars and other competitions as you win races. Aside from the traditional championship races, you’ll also receive “invitational” notices, where you’re given a set of challenge, such as a time-trial event in a snowy Nurburgring, a speed event in Las Vegas, an overtaking contest in Shanghai, and running through an obstacle course in one of Asia’s landmarks. Successfully completing a challenge is the fastest way to build up your inventory on cars. However, the competitions withheld in career mode are based on a calendar structure. There is just one event open a day, whether it is customary or invitational.

The career mode gets a rebuilt of its kudos system. It has been tweaked to take advantage of the tricks you can do with motorcycles. You can pull off various techniques such as popping a wheelie or an endo. You could do something daring like stand on the seat of your bike. Riding a motorcycle is practically the quickest way to raise your kudos, but let’s not forget those shiny four-wheelers; they are equally capable of racking up style points, too! That is if you could pull off one of many high-risk maneuvers such as drifting in tight corners at high speed without hitting the wall. Whatever kudos you earned can be converted into accessory upgrades, unlocking hidden tracks or cars, add filtering effects, or even shopping for gamer pics. Career mode (or Gotham Career as it is known) is just one of the many single-player options available in Project Gotham Racing 4. The other are arcade mode, time trial, and custom match.

The arcade mode has you racing through stages that test your driving skills ranging from drifting challenges to speed events. In time trial, you just race against the clock without any interference from rival opponents. In custom match, you set preference for the race you want to organize. You can almost fine tune anything in this mode, including weather conditions, class of cars allowed, number of laps in the race, and skill difficulty of opponents to name a few. The multiplayer portion rakes in the same amount of excitement as in any of the other single-player modes, except that it includes a few variants to the online content. Playing online is a thrill and it’s made of not only game modes like cat and mouse but also a brand new feature called bulldog. The lowdown on bulldog is that one driver tags every other racer in the game. The longer you can sustain from becoming a bulldog, the more kudos you’ll rake in.

Another great aspect of the PGR 4’s online feature is the On Demand service. It allows players to upload video files and photos of their favorite vehicles. You can even download content from other players, and vote on your favorite pictures and videos as you see fit! Gameplaywise, both the single-player and multiplayer experience of the PGR 4 are superb. The sensitivity of the controls are realistically conveyed in each class. Although each car or bike has a distinct feel and might take some time in getting used to, the handling stays smooth. After all, this is simulation driving not “Burnout”. Graphically, Project Gotham Racing 4 is impressive and showcases a lot of advanced photo-realistic textures on both vehicle models and surrounding terrains. Weather effects are spectacular here, and are not just for display either. The presence of fog, snow, black ice, thunder and lightning will have an adverse affect in your driving.

Bizarre Creations, the powerhouse behind the PGR series, has done an incredible job of putting the environment into perspective, to which lavish green trees lining the race tracks where specs of sunlight bouncing colorfully off the road. The urban setting such as the race course in Macau and Quebec is also nicely depicted. Playing through the first minute of the game brought back a lot of nostalgia from the last PGR. As soon as the engines were roaring and charge of smokes were leaving out of the exhaust, recollections of the old driving experience quickly faded away and were immediately replaced by great suspense and excitement. Project Gotham Racing 4 is no doubt an impressive racing simulation to behold. It’s larger-than-life and provides great driving mechanics with its newly designed kudos system.

The series continues to dominate the genre in terms of visual presentation, technical features, and immersive online experience. With its coveted licensed cars and bikes, you can’t help but live in the moment while hurling at great speed, tearing through famous landmarks. The controls are as smooth as ever but the overall handling is mostly geared towards expert drivers. The customization aspect is robust but not nearly as in-depth as the you see one in Forza 2. Needless to say, the real highlights of Project Gotham Racing 4 are in the career mode. It is what makes Project Gotham Racing a Project Gotham Racing. It is still your best bet for the ultimate driving simulation, despite great competition from Collin McRae DiRT and Forza 2. For now, PGR 4 takes the checkered flag in this year’s racing season.


Emmanuel Flores
Emmanuel Flores

Emmanuel joined the team in 2004. He helped design the website during the time when video games magazines were still in print format. Besides writing reviews, he is responsible for quality assurance and content distribution.