It's difficult to keep the fourth game in any series fresh - especially when its a racer. But this is a fact that the lads at Bizarre Creations are well aware of...
Bikes and weather effects are the biggest touting points of PGR4 - but web and community lead Ben Ward assures us they're more than just for show. In fact, he reckons this'll be the best instalment since PGR2. Here's hoping...
Including Metropolis Street Racer, this is your fifth racer. What else can you do in the genre?
Ward: Well I think the feature list of PGR4 says it all. This time around we're adding dynamic weather, motorcycles, a new party-based matchmaking system, the most detailed tournament system yet seen on Xbox Live, PGR On Demand, a nations-based statistics website, and a brand new Career Mode.
So yeah, there's lots of new stuff. We understand that there's a danger of the fourth version of any franchise becoming stale, and that's why our design team has gone to town with new features in PGR4.
Not only is there all that good stuff I just mentioned, but also probably our broadest vehicle selection yet, and in my opinion the best set of cities since PGR2.
Where does Bizarre racing team go after PGR4? Well, we'd like to get this one out the door first.
You've placed heavy emphasis on the new weather effects. How does weather affect the race, beyond water on the windshield?
Ward: Weather is going to be one of the two main gameplay-changing elements in PGR4 (the other being motorcycles). Of course we've got all the pretty graphics stuff you'd expect, drifting snowflakes and shining puddles. Also the dynamics are affected how you'd expect, so naturally your Ferrari will slide around more in the wet, and even more in the snow and ice.
However, our dynamics team has put serious emphasis on "fun" over "realism". Driving in heavy rain won't be a massive hindrance... it'll be super-drifto and really fun to thrown your backend out whilst driving those hairpins.
Also, the puddles actually affect your dynamics this time, meaning that if you try to go through a deep one you'll lose a lot of speed, and perhaps even spin out. If you're racing in snow and ice, the puddles will freeze over and become more dangerous.
So puddles fundamentally change the way you drive. As you might have heard, the cities from PGR3 are making a comeback in number 4. However, you'll have to change the way you used to driving them, based not only on the weather but the addition of motorbikes. Oh, and we've thrown a couple of new courses per city in there too...
Does the weather change dynamically during a race, or is it set before the race begins?
Ward: It changes dynamically. You won't see massive changes like bright sunshine to a snowstorm in five minutes. Of course it won't happen in real-life, and it would just look silly in a videogame with such realistic cities. However, you can expect to see changes like light rain to a heavy storm, or a frozen icy morning to a full blizzard.
The longer races in the career mode are actually scripted with this in mind, so you might be racing a six lap one-on-one which ends in a blizzard, meaning that you need to concentrate even harder as the race goes on. Of course that's a particularly cruel example, but you get the idea.
In PGR3 you could get your hands on the best cars rather quickly. How are you changing car acquisition in PGR4?
Ward: This time around vehicles are unlocked with Kudos. The further you progress in the Career mode, the more Kudos you earn. With this Kudos you then unlock vehicle packs on the cool wall, as well as other cool stuff like gamer pics.