Studio Update 28

Studio Update 28

Let's talk PGR4 locations...

Monday, July 30 2007

By now, everybody and his dog knows which cities will make it into PGR4. Don't they? Well if you don't, consider stepping up your forum-roaming time. You obviously aren't inquisitive enough! But before you do that, sit back and continue reading this update... you'll like it.

So first things first. Be prepared to see all of the PGR3 cities making a comeback in PGR4. They are all returning, along with mostly the same configuration of tracks. I say "mostly" because there is a slight change in that all point-to-point races have been removed, and replaced with new circuit routes. This has been done because they fit much better around PGR4's new game modes (both single player and multiplayer).

Racification

Of course, the PGR3 locations have all had a thorough going-over from our "racification" team, whose job it is to tart up all the cities to get that festival atmosphere. Expect to see crowds waving your nation's flag, various coloured Armco barriers (not just grey like in PGR3), turn markers counting you into corners, huge trackside banners showing which tournament you're racing in, tents and other temporary buildings. Oh and the crowd wear jackets if it's raining or snowing, and t-shirts in the clear weather now.

By far the most important addition from the racification team (in my opinion anyway) is the new rumble strip and barrier placement. This subtle new track layout makes a really big different when you actually drive around the circuits, leading you into and out of corners and avoiding pile-ups when you're half way through. Here's how it works...

Long Rumble Strip

Firstly, the rumble strips to each of the major corners have been extended outward. Look at the image above; see how the red and white strip starts way before the actual corner? This does two things: firstly it warns you of the upcoming corner (along with the yellow turn marker shown here), and it also teaches drivers to position themselves correctly on the road (in this case on the left hand side). I guess you could say this is our equivalent of Forza's green snake thing...

The second new thing about PGR4's corners is the runoff. Below is the same New York hairpin you know and love from PGR3, but this time there is a large area on the outside of the bend which isn't part of the track itself. Assuming somebody takes this hairpin too fast and flies into the barrier, this time they'll be well out of the way of all the traffic behind them. In PGR3 this would have been a pileup, whereas in PGR4 that situation is totally avoidable.

New Barrier Design

It works the other way around too... assuming somebody cuts too sharply into the hairpin and hits the inside of the bend, the runoff provides a nice area for any following drivers to overtake safely.

What else?

So racification is an important update to the Gotham 3 cities returning in PGR4, but that's not the main reason they were included. We know that you guys and gals have all played these tracks to death, and a lot of you have already been sceptical that including the same cities again might be some kind of cop out. Well that's not the case.

  • Weather! These cities are now raceable in clear, light rain, heavy rain, snow, overcast, light fog, heavy fog, storm, icy, and wet. In rainy conditions you'll see puddles forming on track which dramatically change your racing line. In snow and ice these puddles freeze over, creating no-go patches of tarmac which only a fool would drive over.
  • New vehicles! As well as motorbikes (which drive totally differently and provide a new challenge for PGR veterans), there is also a much wider vehicle set this time around. It's not just "life begins at 170mph" any more; this time there are slower vehicles to take to the track as well.
  • New Game Modes! As well as favourites like Street Race, Cat and Mouse, etc. there are also new game modes entering the fray, such as Survivor and Superstar.

Enough talking! Give us the list!

Ok ok, so here is the final list of cities and locations you can expect to be playing in PGR4 come the end of the year...

Macau, China

MacauFamous for its inner-city bike races, Macau is a track split into two. The city centre has open roads and lots of room to get your speed up. Some of the elevated sections might cause your vehicle to catch some air, but nothing you can't handle. Take one of the mountain roads though, and you'll see a whole different Macau. Twisting, fast, narrow, and (in places) tunnelled. Remember, what goes up(hill) must come down(hill)!

Prone to tropical storms, Macau's track surface can become a nightmare when wet. Adjust your throttle appropriately when the rain starts falling!

Las Vegas, USA

Las VegasSet around one of the famous lengths of tarmac in the world, The Strip, most of the tracks in this Nevada city all follow a simple formula: massive long straights with an intense hairpin at the end of them. Make sure you apply the brakes early to get your speed down and follow the rumble strips, and you should be able to swing around just fine. Remember that bikes generally corner slower than cars around hairpins, so be extra vigilant when riding two wheels instead of four.

Las Vegas is most spectacular at night, and so it's only fitting that this is how it appears in PGR4. Don't get too distracted by the neon though, and remember that weather is now a feature. Yes, it does very occasionally snow in Vegas in real life... although you will probably see it a bit more frequently in PGR4!

London, England

LondonStart your race on the banks of the River Thames, and speed past the Houses of Parliament. London is a historic city, so remember that its streets weren't designed with cutting-edge sports cars and superbikes in mind. Runoff is virtually non-existent in the city centre because of the close proximity of the buildings to the road. Stay away from the barriers to keep your speed up, and be careful when riding your bike through the slaloms.

Watch out for the infamous London fog and rain... it can wreck havoc in the tight inner-city areas of the track. Learn the routes before you go flat out.

St Petersburg, Russia

St PetersburgThis Russian city consists largely of open roads with lots of runoff to play with. Expect high speed driving, but you'll need to experiment with your racing lines to find the fastest route through the open areas. The terrain is mostly flat, but watch out for the humpback bridges! Use them to grab some extra Air Kudos during a race.

There are some tighter roads around the central canals area; don't let the shorter corners take you by surprise. Overhead tram wires add to the sense of speed, but don't let them deceive you; you'll need to contrast your driving between the super-long slaloms and the turn-on-a-penny square corners.

Tokyo, Japan

TokyoJapan's largest metropolis returns to the PGR series, with wide roads and plenty of space to jostle for position. There are various corner types, ranging from super-long sweeping bends to insanely tight hairpins. Taking motorcycles for a spin in Tokyo will be a humbling experience the first time around, especially when trying to tackle the descending circle turn at the Shinjuku bus terminal! Remember, bikes make up their ground on the straights. When cornering, brake more than you normally would in a car and make sure your racing line is good.

New York City, USA

New York CityThe two giant bridges make a comeback, this time with new vehicles and weather conditions. It is possible to push the fastest cars and bikes to their limit in New York, but watch out for the absurdly tight corners at either end of the Brooklyn Bridge. You'll need to get your speed right down; otherwise you'll become a little too acquainted with the Armco!

Shanghai, China

ShanghaiShanghai at night is an amazing sight, with neon signage to rival Las Vegas. However, don't be distracted by the beautiful skyscrapers or dramatic lighting; you'll need to stay alert when racing here. Almost all of the roads are several lanes wide, meaning that it becomes less a task of avoiding the barriers than it does getting the perfect racing line. Most circuits are suited to fast cars, meaning that Shanghai is sure to become a "Class A whore's" favourite.

If you're going for a fast lap in Shanghai you'll need to let the rumble strips guide you in and out of the multiple chicanes. That doesn't mean it's not fun though; Shanghai is a perfect playground for Kudos grabbers to practice their trade. A wet race in this city is hardly ever without incident. Pay attention and don't let the speed creep up on you.

Quebec, Canada

QuebecRacing Quebec is like riding a twisting rollercoaster ride through narrow streets and hills. Most corners are long and slender, suited to either car or bike, and can be taken at high speed. However, there are a few awkward bends which you'll need to learn by heart in order to take at pace. A nice highlight is the gated city walls, which some circuits snake right through.

As you might expect in what has been described as PGR4's answer to Edinburgh, there is very little runoff and thus no margin for error. Watch those barriers!

Nurburgring, Germany

NurburgringThe "Green Hell" makes a comeback in PGR4, this time bigger and badder than before. This time around you'll have to contend with fog, rain, and snowdrifts. It's tough enough to complete a lap in good weather... wait until you see it under a foot of snow!

The Snow 'Ring has actually been modelled on a completely different mesh to the Clear 'Ring, this letting us do cool things like swap out the trees for ones sporting a new "leafless look", pile up snow on the grassy areas, and cover certain rumble strips in snowfall. If you're looking for the ultimate Gotham challenge, you just found it.

Michelin Test Track

As the icing on the location cake, we have also added a fictional Test Track to PGR4. This performs a similar function to the test track from Gotham 2, in that it's a great place to take your cars out and push them to the limit. However, unlike the test track from Gotham 2, this one serves a purpose in the Single Player career mode too. Several invitation challenges take place on the Michelin Test Track, sometimes on the Nascar-style oval, sometimes on the windy service roads, and occasionally on the dirty great skid pan located in the centre.

Despite the track being fictional, it has been inspired by a particular famous racing circuit in the States which I won't mention. But why sponsored by Michelin I hear you ask? Well, not only does this add some real racing authenticity to the game, we also get to include a couple of 40 foot high giant Michelin men in there. So everybody's a winner really.


And that's the end of this particular Studio Update. Questions? Shout them out in the forums.

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