One of the supposed launch titles of the PS4, that got delayed, but it didn't really matter, the game is still not very good.
It didn't take me long to realize that this game was a bad investment. No, I haven't finished it technically. But I did finish it because I doubt I'm coming back for more.
There is not much to finish anyway, as the game doesn't have a campaign or career mode, just a bunch of random races, that will unlock other random unrelated races, no progression, no sense of achievement, nothing that would make it worth playing for me.
And if you run out of random uninspired races on tracks that might as well be randomly generated they're so soulless. You can purchase additional events and challenges from the store. Yeah you heard right, they're selling additional races for at least $2.50 a piece. Comparatively polyphony were giving out weekly free events for their GT games since 5, for absolutely free.
The game is 3.5 years old by now, who do you expect to buy additional races for it after this time? Ridiculous. Not that it was a fair idea to begin with but to still sell them and not just release them as a free update for the game 3 years later is beyond belief.
Physics? What physics? The cars feel like hoverboards on a river, you turn and they will turn without any feel to them, if you go into a corner too fast (which is hard already but later about that) they will simply not turn in. I deliberately don't use the term "understeer" because it doesn't feel like an actual understeer effect with all it's physics and qualities. It simply means the car will turn on a larger radius than the corner has, if you don't slow down enough for it. But it still feels like a slotcar.
And the same goes to oversteer. Which will almost never happen in the game naturally, it seems to be tied to braking. If you don't apply brakes the car will never oversteer regardless of how hard you yank the steering wheel. But if you apply just a slight amount of brakes it will immediately snap into an artificial fully controlled, staged drift. Which I guess was OK in 1995 in Screamer when computers weren't quick enough for any realistic physics and we weren't spoiled by better and better racing games that came since.
So let's get back to the tracks. They feel soulless because they have virtually no corners to speak of, just long winding bends that you can take flat out 90% of the time. But even the "slowest" corners can be taken at 60-70mph, these are not corners, but as I mentioned it is like driving on a river, and the lack of proper corners amplify that effect.
If a corner looks like a tight bend on the mini map it will probably be a slight liftoff at 120+mph. If it looks like a hairpin you might even have to go bellow 70mph. But it doesn't really matter, you see, because there is no mechanical damage and rebounding off the wall doesn't seem any slower than braking for the corner.
The AI opponents are no good either. They seem to be pulled along on strings, and the harder the race the faster they're pulled. You can't rely on drafting or braking late (lol there aren't even braking zones) in the game because regular physics don't apply, and to the opponents not even the lame fake physics do.
Did I say drafting doesn't apply? But it does. The game awards you points for going behind another car, to bad you can't feel the effects of it because even if that opponent drives the same car as you it will still simply keep pulling away from you in a straight line. It also awards points for overtaking and doing a clean sector. But I ask why? The purpose of the race is to win, isn't that the reward itself to be first? Why do I need points for overtaking people, or doing a clean sector? Is the narcissism of the current generation gamer that bad you have to give them a carrot mid a 3 minute race to keep them appeased? I refuse to believe that. There is even a mini game where you get points for driving on a predefined line in a certain section of the track. It doesn't matter how fast you are, just drive the line get the points. Absolutely ridiculous.
As for graphics, the scenery is sparse, at first glance. Ugly at a second glance. But there is a strange atmospheric effect on it that makes everything hazy and dream like. I felt underwater on most tracks, and the overdone motion blur effects don't help either. They make the game tolerable on internal camera only. I love the bonnet camera in racing games but here it's unplayable, as anything outside of the mid 25% of the screen is blurry all the time.
The game seems desperate to show off it's weather effects, that are not bad, but annoying as hell. You can expect either rain or blinding sunset on at least a part of every race. I don't know what's the big deal, the same rain effects were first done in hard truck decades ago. 1998 to be precise, I was truly impressed by them then. Now, not so much.
The sound effects feel very weak as well. With the hazy graphics together they truly make the game feel like it's underwater, or a dream (in the worst possible way). The engine sounds doesn't have any character. Like the frequency range is clipped both high and low, so the game sounds like it's played on one of those old sokol radios.
- You tell me
- lack of campaign or career mode
- paid content
- uninspired tracks
- sound effects
- graphics style
- obsession to show off the weather effects in every race
The game seems to have a cognitive dissonance, it acts in some places as if it wants to approach cars and racing with the respect it should, but does everything to the opposite effect in practice. Yes, showing the player getting into the car is a great addition to immersion, if you already have the important bits nailed. Otherwise it just feels like you're mocking driving game enthusiasts.
Overall impression: 3/10