Grand Prix 4
Windows - 2002
Description of Grand Prix 4 Windows
Microprose's Geoff Crammond knows a thing or two about creating decent racing simulations, a fact showcased by his sterling work from Revs all the way up to Grand Prix 3. At the same time, Microprose's publisher Hasbro knows a thing or two about milking a product for all it's worth, as we saw with the pitiful GP3 2000 Season Update.
GP4 carries the hallmarks of both these traits. Open the box and you'll find a solid racing simulation that has been developed firmly upon the GP3 / GP32K foundation. While the in-game mechanics are virtually unchanged, you'll also find that some of the weaknesses have carried over in the process, and long time fans may feel that there has not been enough of a progression to warrant paying another £30.
The GP4 experience gets off to a good start with the new interface styling, a swirly hi-tech affair that looks miles better than the previous photo-laden backgrounds from GP2 and 3. The menus retain the depth of options we're used to from previous editions, including the standard quick race, non-championship race, full championship etc., plus there's a little novelty in the quick laps option that made its debut in the GP32K add-on. This mode lets up to 22 drivers shoot it out for the fastest qualifying time, feeling like a rally-style competition around a grand prix circuit. The GP series has always catered for multiplayer 'hotseat' racing on a single PC, and this neat little extension is the next best option to split-screen play.
Heading out onto the track for the first time, you'll be hit by a triple-whammy of surprises. First, you're greeted by the sight of fully animated mechanics lowering your car and indicating that it's clear to drive into the pit lane. The second surprise is the quality of the graphics. Unlike the cartoony effect in the EA F1 games, GP4 goes for a clinical pseudo-photorealism and pulls it off with sharply defined objects, smooth textures and panoramic backdrops. Monaco is the perennial showcase of an F1 sim's graphical ability, and GP4 genuinely exceeds itself here - the detailing on everything from the casino to the docked yachts is nothing short of remarkable.
The third is the gorgeous engine note. Apparently sampled from the Arrows F1 Ford Cosworth, it comes across as raspy and seriously powerful. It's also completely different to the screaming samples in F1 2002. It's hard to say which is more realistic, but they both sound fantastic.
Every F1 game claims to employ GPS data to model the tracks, and every new incarnation seems to get closer and closer to the real thing (at least, as we see it on TV). GP4 is no exception, and the new breed of tracks feature more pronounced dips, crests and road camber changes (bankings) than those in GP3. All 2001 changes like the re-profiling of chicanes at Monza and the lower kerbs at Hungary are also present. F1 2002 is just as accurate but it exaggerates effects like bumps. That aside, the casual fan will notice little difference between the two.
Whilst F1 2002 goes out for maximum frills per cc, GP4 is good at doing the important things well, and in some areas it mops the floor with the opposition. The AI, already impressive in GP3, is simply stunning here. Negotiating starts is a fraught affair, with the cars possessing an uncanny spatial awareness and ability to take your space without crashing into you. The 2001 season traits have been modelled well, and often the Schumacher brothers will take the fight for the lead into the distance. In one race at Monza, Jarno Trulli tried an ill-fated out-braking manoeuvre on Ralf Schumacher's BMW Williams into Turn 1, sending them both into the gravel. Great stuff!
Equally wonderful are the replays, thanks to the replay editor first introduced in the GP32K add-on. Geoff Crammond has a creepy knack of replicating TV camera angles and the placements are simply perfect. To see the cars jostling for position down towards Les Combes at the end of the long Spa straight, or seeing them spear through Eau Rouge from a camera at the bottom of the hill, or to watch the AI battles courtesy of the 'directors cut' mode, is to witness PC racing perfection. F1 2002 doesn't even come close.
Another GP4 forte is the variable weather. This was one of the aces in the pack in GP3, and GP4 enhances it with its improved graphics (we finally get the raindrops-on-the-camera-lens effect for the first time!). Controlling an aquaplaning car in the wet is GP4's ultimate challenge, and it's sometimes worth following the AI until you get the hang of it. The informative force feedback comes into its own here. Grip? No grip? You can feel it in an instant.
GP4 retains the high fidelity telemetry and setup options that have been a hallmark (and a joy to serious simheads) throughout the series, and couples them to the improvements from the GP32K add-on. Every advanced setup option is now linked to an integrated GPaedia (which comes with informative video clips from Arrows Test Team Manager Mark Hemsworth), providing much needed guidance for relative newcomers, whilst seasoned pros have a new toy to tweak with, in the form of the differential.
Unusually for a Microprose sim, GP4 makes some concessions to the casual player by introducing some snazzy eye-candy. The animated pit crew is one such feature, as are the animated track marshals and spectators, and the fully functional car-mounted TV display that lets you track the qualifying session (who needs Sky Digital when you've got this?). For those of you put off by the claustrophobic cockpit view, GP4 features new roll-bar and chase-car camera views that come complete with digital displays and a dinky little Rally Championship-style track map.
Bearing in mind that much of the above is already available in the GP32K add-on, there are a few other problems. The new style menus, for instance, are a pain to navigate, a good case in point being the once-clear all-inclusive car setup screens having been split into several sub-menus. In addition, GP4 uses your game controller to navigate the menus, but it couldn't properly calibrate our MS Force Feedback Wheel and this led to a lot of frantic cursor chasing. The game is also buggy, at least under Windows XP, where it would frequently crash back to the desktop on our test machine.
GP4's main competitor, F1 2002, contains several exciting features like separate car performance characteristics and cockpit designs for each team, smarter driver aids and a training school facility to help get to grips with the car handling, along with the 2002 season data. The car physics feel more realistic too. GP4's cars are stable and predictable, even with the driver aids switched off. The F1 2002 breed is considerably more dynamic and exhilarating, with the superb driver feedback letting you feel for and control the power-induced slides.
Finally, the graphics engine powering GP4 exhibits the same problems as the one in GP2, dating all the way back to 1996, despite supposedly being completely new. Unlike in other games where overloading the processor leads to jerky framerates, GP games attempt to artificially compensate to provide a continually smooth frame. The result, though, is that a game simulating a car at speeds of 150mph in the rain somehow manages to look like it's really simulating 15mph, and adjusting detail levels hasn't helped. EA's title in comparison maintains a super fast speed throughout.
Whilst we gave GP3 the benefit of the doubt two years ago, the competition has advanced leaps and bounds since. GP4 has a limited scope and attempts to do its job well, but is let down by a lack of innovation and a gutless graphics engine. F1 2002 meanwhile very nearly matches the quality of the GP4 core features and also advances the genre further with its technically superior game engine and inventiveness. GP4 is worth a look, offering a rock-solid racing experience against some well-crafted AI, but it doesn't add anything significantly new. As a result, it only fully justifies its price tag for Microprose completists and those with very high spec machines.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
GP2engine 2020-07-01 0 point
Hey, when I click on "setup" for the installation it says "Setup failes to launch installation engine: not registered class". And when I tried "Autorun" and clicked on "Installation" it just do nothing. Any ideas on what should I do?
RubyVolt 2020-06-09 1 point
Thank you for putting the NOCD file. After burning and installing the ISO, just copy the NOCD over the original and race.
supertomcat 2020-06-08 2 points
Also try the no cd at the bottom and then put the patch if that doesn't work. I may do a step by step guide.
RubyVolt 2020-06-07 0 point
I downloaded, burned with Nero, installed. When I try to run, it says, "put in the CD" when the CD is in there. OH WELL....
supertomcat 2020-06-07 1 point
Get an iso mounter and if you have windows it should work. (this is a windows game not dos) If it doesn't work on windows 10 set up a virtual machine running Xp
MAKO 2020-06-07 0 point
So, this is my first time downloading a game. I'm stuck and I'm not being able to play it. How do you run iso? I'm trying with DOSBox but it never works...
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