STAFF REVIEW of Moto Racer 4 (Xbox One)

Friday, January 27, 2017.
by Kirby Yablonski

Moto Racer 4 Box art During the past few days I have been playing the latest game in the Moto Racer franchise, simply titled Moto Racer 4. Selling for a price of $39.99, this game has recently been released in N. America on Microsoft’s current-gen console, and for better or for worse it’s the newest two-wheeled racer for fans to play. So, is it worth the time or should you pass it up for something else?

Right off the hop, and as briefly mentioned above, this game leans towards the ‘arcade’ control type of game, and it is as far from being a simulation experience. There is no realism here as the tracks, racers, and the racing itself, is all about speed, tricks, and pulling of some crazy moves while speeding down the track. You’ll be racing on two different types of motorcycles, street and dirt.

There is a career mode, but there is no story attached, you just get to pick a racer and go through the various chapters/stages. You will see a small paragraph for each event, within each chapter, that tells why you are competing in that specific event, but nothing more, nothing less. If there is one thing that I noticed right off the get-go it is that your racer looks very much like a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger. It’s kind of crazy, but it’s true. Each racer has their own set of stats, from control, speed, acceleration, etc., and it will be up to you to find the one racer that suits your racing style. You can customize your racer and ride with various color variations too. Each bike can be upgraded as you race as you will earn skill points; however, each motorcycle has a maximum setting of its own in each area, so you won’t ‘max’ out your motorcycles in all areas.

During the career mode Moto Racer 4 does something that I found to be a great idea, and that is it lets you choose what level of the objective you can target. It is based on a three-star system, but you choose which level of stars you aim for. For example, you can choose to finish first or third in a race, or you can choose to beat one of three times in a time attack race. It’s a neat little system as it allows you to dictate what you think you can or cannot do. It also allows you to succeed when you think you might not, and as you get better you can come back and challenge the harder objectives to earn even more stars in total.

The career mode itself has 10 different ‘chapters’ with some of them branching in various directions. You advance to the next chapter/stage by earning the stars that you get when completing events. Within each career chapter you’ll find events/challenges and they can vary from time attacks, straight up races, reaching check points for ‘x’ amount of time, slalom races (dodge between vehicles), elimination and even one called “Catch Your Prey”, which is where you are ‘x’ number of meters behind first place and you must catch up to them. You’ll even find some of the challenges rely on using a specific racer than the one you might be using. You can also earn ‘style’ points as you compete in the various events too. Overall there is a nice smattering of different events for you to race or challenge, and it will keep you busy for a little while.

The AI is a mixed bag. I found that after choosing the right rider and motorcycle, learning the tracks, and figuring out when to hit the wheelie button (think turbo boost) that I could match or beat the objective that I set. You can also get aggressive and knock other riders off the track should you want, but I found I wasn’t too successful when I tried, maybe I just wasn’t good enough at the angle of the hit, so to speak. There will be times that you’ll experience some rubberband AI (catch-up) but in my time playing it wasn’t always prevalent. I had a few races that were close, there is no doubt about that, but with time, and practice, there was nothing that couldn’t be overcome, even if I dialed down the odd objective to two stars.

Control in a game that involves racing virtual two wheeled machines is somewhat important. When I first started playing it felt like the control was loose; however, with time I adjusted and found it really wasn’t too bad. You’ll have to brake when going into some of the sharper corners, and weaving in and out of traffic is manageable, except for when that one car or truck shows up out of the blue. When racing in the dirt bike class you’ll have to get use to using the ‘B’ button to kick out your back wheel and ‘drift’ around the corners. Speaking of the dirt bikes, you can also pull off some cool moves while you race, including flips, sidekicks, and a slew of other aerial moves. It adds to your style points which you will find have a higher ‘goal’ amount in the dirt bike racing then when street racing.

Should you want to take a break from the career you can go into quick race anytime you want. It’s a nice way to practice and get used to new riders and motorcycles. You can choose from single race, championship, time attack and hot lap. Many of these are found within the career mode, so again, great practice. There is also some split screen racing, which is great for those days you may be sitting at home with a friend gaming and you just want to do something different. Moto Racer 4 also allows you to head online. You can join random races or set up your own, either private, friends only, or open to the public. There are street races and dirt races with single race, king of the road, last man riding and golden helmet modes. Surprisingly, and somewhat sad, is that even on launch day I could not find any races to participate in online. So, I can’t say too much here, which is disappointing as I would have liked to test it out. There is a nice array of multiplayer options that should keep diehard fans happy though.

Visually, the best way I can describe the look of Moto Racer 4 is that it is like a late Xbox 360 game or very early Xbox One game. The dev-team used the Unreal 4 Engine, and it doesn’t look particularly bad, it’s just that 3 years into the life-cycle of the Xbox One I expect more, especially using this graphics engine as it’s a very capable one that has produced good looking games in the past. The track design is commendable though, as there are varied environments to race in. The various street locations, and the dirt track ones, are very different from one another. For example, during a street race you may find yourself racing over a Golden Gate like bridge and then the next race you’ll find yourself on the wide open straights of a desert road. Or if racing off-road, you could find yourself racing in an airplane graveyard then next race find yourself racing in an open cave-like setting. The only down fall here is that the overall number of tracks is limited and the actual visuals look dated as they don’t have the ‘oomph’ you’d hope for. On a more positive note, technically the game ran fairly well and quite smooth, with very little hiccups invading my gameplay experience.

Finally, as for the sound, I did get somewhat annoyed of the constant sound of the motorcycles after a while, as they had a knack at sounding virtually all the same. As for the sound effects beyond the bikes, you’ll notice some environmental sounds, but nothing that really immerses you like you’d hope. The game’s soundtrack is…. interesting. It is a mix of techno and hard-rock, and I didn’t mind it too much, but the more you play the game, the more you’ll find the tracks starting to repeat, which can become quite bothersome in itself. I guess the best way to describe the audio is that it is functional and can get the job done.

So, what is our verdict here at XBA. Well, Moto Racer 4 is a very arcadish two-wheeled racer. It has the benefit of having two different classes of motorcycles to race, and there is a career mode that allows for tailoring of the game’s event objectives to match one’s skill, something I haven’t seen too much in racing games. Unfortunately, the online lobbies were empty, the visuals are somewhat dated, track selection is limited, and the sound is nothing to write home about. For $40 I feel that some may feel the price of entry is too high. If this game was offered at $25, it might be worth some serious consideration, if not just for something different to play, but at its’s current price it’s hard to fully recommend it as nothing particularly stands out as wowing you. That being said, diehard racing fans, especially those of the two-wheeled nature, could find something to like here.

Overall: 6.1 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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