Compared to the Ride or MotoGP games, Moto Racer 4 is a pretty easy-going arcade motorcycle game. It wants you to have a good time rather than conquer the steep learning curve usually favoured by two-wheeled racers. Depending on your personal preference, this is either a good thing or a bad thing.
This rather forgiving gameplay allows you to grab a handful of throttle and pinball your bike around the course without little fear of taking a slide. You are not going to get a good time doing this, as the game will give you a penalty for going off-course, but it reduces the frustration and, unfortunately, the challenge as well.
Scrape a fence and you’ll be fine, bury your bike into a wall and you’ll not fair so well- respawning in the centre of the road. Same goes for riding into one of the private vehicles that you often share the road with.
But, Moto Racer 4 is very much an arcade racer and not a motorcycle sim.
The career mode offers up a series of events featuring a couple of races followed by a multi-race championship. As you progress through the career mode, circuits unlock for use in the quick game, time trial and hot lap modes. Fans of slit-screen multiplayer will be pleased to see the feature included in the game, as well as the obligatory online racing mode.
The game features a great variety of circuits that are fun to race on. The circuits are not afraid to take you off-road and often contain jumps that if properly executed give you a speed boost. There are usually multiple routes, potentially making each lap different.
On roads, it’s all about pushing your street-bike to the limit. Off-road it’s about getting your dirt-bike across a precarious terrain littered with deadly jumps and hair-pin turns.
At the start of each race you get to rank yourself, basically placing a bet on your likely performance. You select one, two or three stars. If you make, or exceed, the rank you picked you will earn those stars. Rank yourself too low and you will lose out on ranking stars, rank yourself too high and you will fail the challenge.
The game’s TURBO system allows fast starts by perfectly timing your throttle at the green light. The boost button sends your front wheel into the air. This, and the stunts, jumps and the ability to slide around bends, reinforces the developer’s emphasis on fun over realism.
The bikes’ handling reminded me a lot of the classic motorcycle/combat game, Road Rash. With the ability to shoulder-barge opponents, the similarity is even more apparent. On the dirt-bikes pressing the ‘O’ button, when cornering, on the PS4 controller sends your bike on an impressive slide around the bend.
After each race, a return to the paddock allows you to upgrade your bike using points obtained whilst racing. Here you can improve your bike’s handing, speed TURBO and Acceleration.
The special PSVR mode, with allows you to do hop laps and time trials using your VR headset, are OK if you view them as a bonus, but the visuals are pretty bad compared to the already basic-looking visuals of the main game.
The visuals shy away from photoreal and instead have a stylised painterly look that perfectly suits the arcade gameplay. Looking at the graphics cynically, they are a bit last-gen.
What you get out of Moto Racer 4 depends very much on what you are expecting. If you are after a full-on motorcycle simulator look elsewhere.
Moto Racer 4 feels like the arcade racers of yesteryear. What is lacks in visual prowess and sophistication, for old timers like me, at least, it makes up for with Road Rash-inspired nostalgia.