Been playing a bit of PGR4 over the last couple of days. Bizarre Creations have fixed everything I fucking hated about PGR3. So far, I am happily impressed. The cars are wonderful. The bikes are fun. The Kudos system has been eased back a little and actually commends you on things that matter, like taking turns properly. The physics have been toned down from the insanity of the rushed piece of shit that was PGR3. They’re actually more in the vein of my favorite game in the series (and likely my favorite racer period), PGR2, which beautifully toed the line between sim and arcade physics.

I love torque monsters like the Chevy Stingray and the Mercedes CLK DTM AMG which just spin their tires in 2nd and 3rd gear.

The weather effects are fucking astonishing. Watching replays of races in the rain, you can catch upclose shots of rain slick hoods which are so DEAD ON REAL that it is simply stunning.

The cars don’t behave EXACTLY as one would expect in adverse conditions such as rain, and particularly snow, but they still react admirably realistically, where you still need to brake earlier and take it easier with the gas to avoid spins and fishtails. There are also standing pools of water, as well as ice patches in both respective weather conditions, and they are placed in crucial braking zones, so you may often find yourself sliding uncontrollably into a barrier instead of gracefully powering through a tight left hander. These pools of water and ice patches pose a significantly unique challenge to racing in adverse weather beyond the obviously decreased levels of traction.

I like how the career mode has done away with the medal system, and you can now win championships without necessarily being in 1st place. I’m playing on Hardcore difficulty, and some of these events are brutally difficult. One in particular is the new mode called “Time vs. Kudos”, where you need to beat a lap in some retarded short period of time and you can stop the clock by performing Kudos-scoring maneuvers such as slides, etc. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the MAD SKILLZ necessary to place 1st in that event, and instead placed 3rd. But I still managed to place 2nd in the overall championship, so I was still content. This makes the game a lot more accessible than in PGR2 where playing on Platinum required you to place 1st in every single event.

The graphics, as mentioned above, are killer. I love looking at every inch of it (especially in 1080p). The cars are perfect, the tracks look wonderful, people stand at the sidelines cheering you on and the rain is incredible. My only gripe is the absence of damage modeling. But at least they removed it altogether, rather than the half assed nonsense they tried with PGR3, where plowing headon into a concrete barrier resulted in a cracked headlight and a dimpled bumper. As in PGR3, every car interior is modeled after the real life counterpart, which I still find simply incredible. The only nitpick I have is that there’s no animation for the shifter when shifting gears. Not that you should really be looking in that direction when you’re going 150mph, but still.

Overall, it’s a lot of fun. Street racing is still street racing, the AI is brutal and drives perfectly, and it’s just as thrilling to pass the 1st car at a bend and then just leaving him for dead on a straightaway. Is it as good as PGR2? Nah, but that’s because that game holds a certain old-school charm by now, and a special place in my heart (if not because of the hundreds of hours I’ve poured into it beating every event on Gold and Platinum.) But it’s still Goddamn close and does things graphically PGR2 couldn’t hold a candle to.

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