By Jamie Mercer 01.12.2016
In September, Cubed3 was invited to Paris, France to get its hands on Moto Racer 4. The series has returned to its original designer, Paul Cuisset, to try and get it back on track, but is it doomed from the starting line or will it finish strong? Ahead of our upcoming review, Cubed3 provides some earlier impressions from the pre-release build.
First impressions are that Moto Racer 4 looks pretty good, sacrificing photorealism for a fun and vibrant art style. There is a nice mix of tracks and locations (18 tracks in all), with quite a few of the levels having shortcuts, meaning map knowledge is going to be pretty key in competitive modes. Built in Unreal Engine 4, the racer features deserts and forests, to name but a few of the track locations on offer.
Those new to the series should expect a pure arcade racing experience with an emphasis on performing tricks and negotiating oncoming traffic a la Burnout to gain speed boosts to keep you ahead of the pack. Tricks also give more style points, which can be used to upgrade motorbikes. Tricking also grants a small speed boost when landing, so weighing up when to focus on driving and when to showboat becomes something of an art form.
There is a career mode, which promises 10 chapters, with between two to five challenges per chapter, but the real fun looks to be in multiplayer where it plays like a hybrid between Road Rash and Burnout as you jostle and wrestle other riders off their bikes while gaining boost to blast you forwards. Different AI racers have their own unique personalities; some might prefer a more physical race with plenty of scrapping, while others might enjoy nothing more than trailing and waiting for the opportune moment to boost and beat you to the finish line.
Moto Racer 4 supports PlayStation 4 Pro, meaning on launch it will feature 4K and 60fps support, and is also compatible with PSVR. Although the pros and cons of VR in gaming can be debated for hours on end, implementation on the build we had access to - which was not the finished version - seemed stable and was very immersive, causing a bit of sweat on this writer's brow when boosting on the wrong side of the road!
This is the first core release for the series in over 15 years, so naturally there are some concerns. With such an old franchise, is the fan base there? Will new gamers respond well to a sequel to a game they possible haven't heard of? This is where the problem lies. Released in November, Moto Racer 4 has to contend with a number of triple-A titles, including Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Football Manager 2017, Dishonored 2, Watch Dogs 2, Final Fantasy XV, and Pokémon Sun and Moon. With such heavy hitters landing on shelves, does Moto Racer 4 stand a chance, or would it have been better to hold it back until the New Year?