Racing games are a genre that at times feel like they have nothing to show but then come back around for another pass with some fantastic titles. Given the chance to look at Moto Racer 4, the latest in the motorbike racing series to hit PlayStation 4, I was keen to see if the genre could keep my attention. Soon after getting hands on with Moto Racer 4 however, it became clear that what I was playing was not the game that I expected nor one that I really wanted to play. With so many games hitting the scene right now, Moto Racer 4 has a lot to live up to if it hopes to stand above the rest. The question is though, just what kind of an experience is Moto Racer 4?
The main focus of the gameplay within Moto Racer 4 is as you would expect to take part in a number of races, on a number of bikes, and become the very best. The game has a slight identity crisis though as it allows you to do both asphalt and dirt racing and each feels very different to the other. Generally speaking, controls in Moto Racer 4 are a complete mess and the bikes feel like they are continuous riding on ice. Though the bikes can be upgraded over the course of the game to improving handling and the like it never really feels like it improves. As a matter of fact the controls continue to get worse the more you play in my view. Then again this could be due to the physics or even the weight of the bikes and racers.
It is something hard to get right in any racing game, but in a game where you are speeding around on bikes it needs to be there. That feel of weight to the bikes and knowing that you are sticking to the surface regardless of speed. Though in the dirt tracks with dirt bikes there is a bit more of this present, more so when drifting. Elsewhere there is a serious lack of weight. Even when jumping in the air on the bikes you feel no different. The reason this becomes such an issue in Moto Racer 4 is due to the fact that there is no clear identity between an arcade style game or a simulation. Of course it is clear that it’s more arcadey in it’s delivery, Moto Racer 4 just falls short in many ways.
Another issue I found with Moto Racer 4 is that the AI seem to always have a bit of an upper hand regardless of how far you upgrade your bike. At the same time the player progression system is somewhat anti-player. You ‘bet’ on how well you are going to do and then have to meet the requirement of said bet. If you don’t meet it then you gain no points. You will only be rewarded for what you bet on. Therefore you are forced to replay a lot of tracks again and again in hope of getting the max number of rewards but one simple mistake can cost you dearly.
Visually, Moto Racer 4 is a game that has a bit of a style going for it. Thanks to it being powered by the Unreal Engine 4, Moto Racer 4 has that shiny finish that you find in a lot of Unreal Engine powered games. The graphics and lighting effects are impressive throughout the whole game and really give it a colourful finish. It is a shame that with such a strong visual array that the tracks are in some rather boring and unimpressive locations. You have your forest track, your desert track and your highway track. The tracks are creative at times but more so on the dirt tracks rather than the standard tracks. There were times that the visuals would suffer from texture pop in and cars in the tracks would just appear in front of me. Which would lead to a crash which was never fun. The sound design in Moto Racer 4 excels however, with a range of music and sound effects present throughout the game.
Some interesting things to note about Moto Racer 4 include that fact that the menus cannot be controlled via the d-pad and must be navigated with left stick. Other small aspects of the presentation include that look of the racers themselves who are a mix of real life and Tron lookalikes. The overall aesthetic of Moto Racer 4 is confusing to be honest. With it’s tracks and style grounding in reality only to then have Tron like effects on the bikes and racers. Even the respawn has an odd if somewhat enjoyable effect.
Moto Racer 4 is a tough one to give a verdict on if I’m honest. The game can be a good amount of fun, and often is. This is mainly found during the crazy dirt bike sections, but beyond that Moto Racer 4 falls flat on many fronts. It’s a shame to see a game like this end up in the less than enjoyable state it is. From the unfair AI to the less than ideal controls and gameplay. Moto Racer 4 speeds off to a head on collision with a brick wall as it fails to capture or hold attention for very long. There was hope for Moto Racer 4 but alas it has under delivered on many fronts. It’s not one I would recommend and honestly I’m sure you can find better elsewhere.
This review is based on a PlayStation 4 version of the product provided by the publisher.