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Grand Prix 4 is the fourth incarnation in the Grand Prix Series, so how does it fare? Read Paul's review for more.

By Paul
24 August 2002


Grand Prix 4 is the fourth title in the Grand Prix Series, which started way back in 1991 when Formula One Grand Prix was released for the Amiga. Since then, we've had Grand Prix 2, Grand Prix 3, and now, of course Grand Prix 4.

Many people were disappointed with Grand Prix 3, as it wasn't actually all that much different from Grand Prix 2, which was released four years earlier. Still, it was as popular as ever, and people's hopes were raised for Grand Prix 4 once again.

Starting Out

After installation (700 or 300mb), and graphics configuration, the first thing you notice with Grand Prix 4 is that the menu system has had a revamp, in both style and navigation, to a more of a type of system you would expect to see on a console such as the Xbox.

Unfortunately, all the nice pictures have gone, and have been replaced with moving backgrounds of tyres & kerbs, etc. If you've played any of the gp-series before, you should be able to find your way around here ok, however I can't help but feel they've actually made the menu system worse than it was in Grand Prix 3.

In Grand Prix Series tradition, the default settings are for a quick race at Silverstone with the leading British driver (David Coulthard). After changing the difficulty level to "ace", I decided to have a quick spin in the game using my keyboard.

Loading times in Grand Prix 4 are pretty quick, which is good news if you want to trial and error a new car setup that you've created. Starting in 6th, I found it quite easy to get into 3rd place by the first corner, and finish the race (3 laps) in that position.

This is where my first criticism comes: the game is simply too easy to play. Even though I've played through all the other titles of the gp-series, it is still way too easy to lap in quick times around Silverstone on my first ever go in "ace" mode. I feel that this perhaps has something to do with the way the physics model works (more on that later).


The main criticism from fans of Grand Prix 3 was that the graphics engine wasn't exactly up-to-date, and was hampered by an included "software" mode for people without a 3D graphics card. Luckily, the development team have now seen sense, and have developed a brand-new graphics engine that makes full use of modern graphics cards, including features such as bump-mapping etc. Unfortunately, the game is still hampered by what we call "PO" (processor occupancy), an age-old method of controlling how fast games run, via the CPU. Even though the game is capable of 60fps (frames per second), this generally means you won't be able to get anywhere near that because of the speed of your processor.

However, as I said, the graphics are now greatly improved, and I can manage a solid 38fps on my 1300mhz Athlon with a GE-Force 1 DDR card, at full details (without mirrors, TV-walls and heathaze) in 1024x768. I must say that with these settings the game looks excellent, and is up there with the best graphics I've seen in a racing game.

The track graphics themselves are now far more realistic, and while in-car, you don't get any more pixellation as you get close to barriers and kerbs. The actual tarmac itself looks far better and more realistic with bump-mapping on too. Perhaps where Grand Prix 4's graphics look best is in wet-weather, with full reflections. In Grand Prix 3, the track looked like a mirror when it was fully wet, which wasn't very realistic, but this has now been improved in Grand Prix 4, and the track does look genuinely wet, with realistic reflections from the cars and their surroundings.

Grand Prix 4 also works very nicely with the E-Dimensional 3D glasses, and the 3D-effects around tracks such as Monaco are stunning; the buildings and the cars look quite true to life and of course the atmosphere is improved as a result (as with most games using the E-3D glasses). There is the frame rate reduction to deal with, and that's about 10-12fps off my normal rate on my computer, which isn't too bad. If you've got the glasses, I'd recommend giving this game a go with them.

Overall, the graphics are a far cry from the dull ones seen in Grand Prix 3.

Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Graphics, Tracks & Wet Weather »

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