Functionality trumps nostalgia.
Moto Racer 4 would have felt right at home back in the days of the original PlayStation. This makes perfect sense seeing as the first two games were released there, and I loved them, but times have changed. The fourth game in the series gets a new developer and is being released in a time when arcade racing games need some sort of hook or astounding game play to even stand out. Moto Racer 4 has neither of these, making it feel like a game lost in time.
This is never more evident than when booting up the game. The fast-paced music blares and the extreme nature of the experience is directly in the player’s face. This game wants to be much more exciting than it actually is.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
The game is broken down into standard modes, with the career being the focus. In this mode there are tiers of races, each race players can earn up to three stars, but this is where the developers attempted to implement a gimmick. The issue is that this gimmick is actually detrimental to progress.
Each race has three stars that can be earned, but only if I accepted the challenge. For example, in a standard race I could pick my goal, first, second, or third. Each one was worth a different star amount, and even if I came in first after picking second, I only got credit for two stars. Even more, if I failed at my goal, I lost stars, so events can go into negative stars, which sucks because stars are what progresses into more races.
There are a lot of issues with this system. First off the AI is set to play catch-up, which as racing game fans know, is annoying. Early on it isn’t an issue as I was lapping opponents, but the further I progressed the more aggressive it became. Eventually I was choosing only one star goals and even then I was rarely winning. It is a mess.
This could all be overlooked if the racing is great. For the most part Moto Racer 4 handles fine, but there are some weird decisions in its design. First and foremost, to keep up with the speed and arcade feel, the bikes are harder to wreck than one would imagine. Racers will bounce off walls, and the turning speed has a hair trigger. Dodging traffic usually caused me to slam into something else. It is also worth noting that boost is imperative, and it is earned by performing wheelies and landing on two wheels, so I was forced to constantly be doing that to keep up with the AI later in the game.
Moto Racer 4 is built on Unreal Engine 4, and it has some awesome track design, but everything else has plenty of issues. The texture pop-in is extremely apparent, and the frame rate isn’t as solid as it should be for a racing game. While the tracks are nicely designed, they do lack interesting scenery; not that I had time to see it anyways, as the game moves so fast I rarely had time to take it in.
Online is here, but there is no point. Not because of poor performance or bad design, but simply because no one is playing it. I literally found one match and this isn’t because of release date, as this game has been out in the UK for a while.
Moto Racer 4 tugged at my nostalgia from the original PlayStation games, but it left me feeling cold and empty afterwards. I wanted it to be good, heck I would have settled for it being mediocre, but in the end it just feels like a game lost in time.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.