MotoGP - XB - Review
MotoGP is based on the extreme and visceral sport of Grand Prix Motorcycle racing and allows you to compete against various real-world riders through a number of licensed racetracks. (10 of which are digital recreations of official courses.) Yet, what is it that makes this game so incredibly entertaining? Well, it could be the realistic water speckles that form on your windshield when you are driving in the rain. Or maybe it’s the super-detailed bike models that occasionally appear 20 at a time simultaneously. It could also be the photo-realistic environments that feature spookily realistic lightning and rain effects. Or perhaps it’s the immersive gameplay that allows for control like no other racing game before it. In actuality, a culmination of all these things set MotoGP apart from the competition. This game is an achievement of the same caliber as Project Gotham Racing and arguably even Gran Turismo 3. Put simply: it rocks.
The included modes of play are as follows: Arcade Championship, in which you’ll race through many diverse courses while accumulating points Project Gotham-Style. Gran Prix mode, which allows you to go through an entire season of races and build up experience points. Training mode teaches you the basics of the game by playing various trials, gradually increasing in difficulty. There is also the obligatory Time Trials, Quick Race and Multiplayer modes. In Multiplayer mode you have the option to race against three of your friends simultaneously, either through split screen on the same TV or using the Xbox’s link-up capability.
In the Gran Prix mode you create a rider choosing from several customization options like the model of your bike, style of leathers, paint job, and color scheme. You’ll start with ten experience points that you can distribute into four distinct categories: cornering, top speed, braking, and acceleration. Additional experience points are earned by competing in races and successfully completing training trials. Preceding every race, you have the option to practice a few laps or qualify for a higher position on the starting grid. The length of races can be defined according to your preference, you can make’em as short as three laps or as long as their real-life counterparts. Coming in first place while playing Gran Prix mode allows you to view a lengthy real-life race on the same track, followed by a post-race press conference with the winner.
The arcade mode is not unlike that of Project Gotham Racing’s. You are awarded with points for driving with style and risk: pop a wheelie or perform a power slide and your points will begin to rapidly accumulate for the duration of the maneuver. You have to run a clean race for a few seconds after the trick for the points to be added to your overall score. (Sound familiar?) The more points you accumulate the more features will become available, among which include ‘toon’ mode which gives the graphical presentation of the game a cel-shaded makeover. There are also a handful of other graphical nuances that can be applied to the game through earning points, as well as new bikes, racers, tracks, and movie clips. So, it goes without saying that there is a considerable amount of replay value to this game.
The bikes handle realistically and the control scheme is easy to pick up for beginners, but also leaves enough room open for depth that it’ll take quite a while to master the various intricacies of the gameplay. One of the coolest features that MotoGP offers is the separation of front and rear brakes, which are mapped to the R and L triggers, respectively. This allows for a wide assortment of techniques and extends the lasting appeal of the game considerably, not to mention adds a notch of immersion to the play mechanics. Using the rear brakes to round out sharp corners is, at first, the simplest method to apply but once you feel confident enough to start experimenting you’ll realize that the front brakes, while being a bit more risky, can help to get you around those tight corners a little faster if used in tandem with the rear brakes. By pressing any direction on the left-analog-stick you can reposition your body and shift the weight of your racer to different areas of the bike, this comes in particularly handy for maximizing your top-speed by leaning forward, popping wheelies by pulling back, and performing lots of cool-looking tricks. The level of precision that this game offers gameplay-wise is unprecedented and pleasantly surprising.
The visuals in MotoGP are excellent and make tremendous use of the Xbox’s powerful hardware. The atmospheres are rendered superbly and look gorgeous: expect to see waves of heat coming off the hot asphalt, sublime lens-flares, and lots of other cool graphical niceties that’ll make your Xbox-less friends green with envy. The rider moves realistically as he switches between gears, shifts his weight around on the bike, and recovers from near-crash collisions, and at times, even reacts emotionally to other bikers who get too close to him during the race. (Did that guy I just bumped into flip me the bird?!) Once you reach high speeds of 140+mph, a motion blur will go into effect, conveying an understated yet very effective sense of speed as the surroundings surreally melt away into a frenzied blur of high-octane speed.
The music is probably the weakest aspect of the game, sporting a techno-ey soundtrack. Luckily, THQ included the ability to select your own soundtrack from music you’ve ripped onto the Xbox -- because, what better music is there to listen to than any music you want, know what I’m sayin’? The sound effects of the various motorcycles overpower the music though, almost to the point of being too loud. (Fortunately, you can tweek the various audio elements on the fly.)
MotoGP is to motorcycle-racing games what Project Gotham Racing was to car-racing games. I haven’t had this much fun with a motorcycle game since, well, Excitebike for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Next time I see Gran Prix motorcycle racing on TV as I flip through the channels I might actually give a damn. About the only thing that this game lacks is GT3’s level of hardware customization, in fact, there is no option at all to switch out specific parts. However, despite the game’s weak soundtrack and lack of hardware customization it still manages to be the best moto-racing game to date, for any console, period. If your even remotely a racing fan – heck, even if your not -- than MotoGP is well worth the price of admission, check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
Easy to pick up and play with enough room to experiment using different techniques. The inclusion of a front and rear braking system gives the game a whole new level of realism and immersion. Rounding those sharp corners is downright thrilling thanks to the precision of control you have over your bike.
The atmosphere, the bikes, character models, environmental effects, its all spot on – this game is drop dead gorgeous. Tire tracks from peeling out are permanently left on tracks, racers will visibly react in certain situations, and the way the driver flails his arms and legs while he is flying through the sky after a hardcore collision looks so realistic it almost hurts. This is one of the most visually impressive games currently out for any system.
The roar of engines ferociously revving up before the start of every race really gets your blood pumping. Every sound effect sounds like it was lifted straight out of real-life competitions. The music is a little too techno-ey for my tastes but since THQ included the option to play music you’ve ripped to the ‘box, it’s all good.
You are given the option to choose rookie to professional level of difficulty, so the game is as hard or easy as you want it to be. Well, actually, even on rookie mode the later races can be pretty competitive. All in all, though, it’ll take you quite a long time to proficiently progress through the higher difficulty modes in the game.
The concept of Gran Prix racing is nothing new but the innovative gameplay mechanics and utterly realistic visuals put this game head and shoulders above any other simulation moto-racing game. Check this out: you can take out the graphic insert for the case of the game and flip it around for an alternative cover, how’s that for concept?
2-4 players split-screen or via link-cable. THQ covered their bases in this regard, you can play multiplayer split-screen or via the Xbox link cable, so no matter your preference this game has you covered. You can customize everything about the multiplayer races from the amount of laps to the scoring method to the weather condition.
Moto-racing don’t get much better than this, folks. This game is a digital masterpiece, a tour de force, my hats off to the developers. I’m not even a sports simulation fan and yet I found MotoGP extraordinarily entertaining – that should tell you something. Get .. this .. game.