Rating : 5/10
I loved the Moto Racer series back in the day. It was one of the very few games I got to run well on the PC we had at the time, and I spent hours flying round the same sand-strewn track under the overhanging rocks and generally having a blast. And here we have Moto Racer 4 in an attempt to bring the name back to the fore of arcade bike-em-ups.
You’re greeted with the kind of fanfare you’d usually hear in your local arcade, which makes for a promising start. There’s no worrying about how much horsepower is in the engine or who sponsors the rubber on the tyres, instead you’re given an array of characters with names seemingly picked at random from a crazy name generator. I decided to hop into a quick race at first, to get a feel for the game.
I selected and customised my rider, picking the one that looked most like they’d fallen off the grid in Tron straight onto a motorcycle in the real world. Tweaking the riders colours to be a bit more neon, a quick track selection and I was set to go. At least, I thought I was… I was sat at the loading screen for ages. And ages.
Moving into the race, the game’s environment looked colourful and vibrant, something you want to see in an arcade racer. But that’s where the niceties stopped. Once I’d moved off the line and had been given control of my rider, the twitchy controls made themselves incredibly apparent. We’ve had analog sticks on home consoles for over 20 years, yet we still have games that feel as if they’re being played with a digital input, which makes Moto Racer 4 incredibly frustrating to play. There’s a constant correction battle where you pass a certain point on the analog stick that seems to make your rider veer over to one side, as you naturally try and correct that movement, your biker veers over to the other side leaving you in a seemingly endless cycle. And this was just trying to get lined up on the straight. Try that on a motorcycle and you’re going to get high-sided, real quick.
Slightly deterred, I dropped into career mode. Here, the races give you the choice of three difficulty ratings you can go for, between one and three stars. However, the AI in this game are so unbelievably overpowered when you choose anything more than one star, that it becomes a lesson in futility – you can upgrade your rider when you complete races to make yourself more competitive, and I could understand that getting to a fully upgraded level would make it all a lot easier. However, because of the twitchy controls; I’m not sure that going faster would really be the best course of action.
Overall, it looks nice, and sounds good too, but is let down primarily by the shoddy handling and long load times, with a seemingly inverse difficulty curve, it’s somewhat unforgiving to play meaning there’s not a great deal of fun left to be had.
Decidedly average attempt at a reboot of the franchise, with controls that just aren’t fun and load times that sap what was left of any real enjoyment from the title.
When not getting knee deep in lines of code behind the scenes, you’ll find him shaving milliseconds off lap times in Forza.