MotoGP has been around for a fair number of years now, and has pretty much blown away the opposition to become the PC's best thing on two wheels. In fact, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission have been rumoured to be looking into the fact that if you want a decent motorbike racing game on PC, there is only one choice: MotoGP. Boiled down, what it offers is twofold: realism and speed.
As far as speed goes, MotoGP has always delivered. Slick as hell, gleaming bikes, shimmering tarmac, rustling trees and expansive landscapes are propelled past you at what seems like the speed of light. Riders shake fists at other racers when they clip wheels, reflections flicker on polished paintwork, and you're treated to a quick replay every time you fall. The irony being that all this loving work - this polygon polishing and frame-rate oiling - is to a degree wasted: take your eyes off the track even for a moment and you're prone to come a cropper. So it all flashes by unnoticed as you focus on the track, until you hit 260kph or so, when the tasty motion blur kicks in, inducing something between exhilaration and nausea. But isn't that what a racing game is all about? As long as it can give you that slight 'I'm gonna cack myself' feeling of insane velocity, it's doing something right.
The realism aspect is another huge consideration. Here you have a whole host of elements that those behind the wheel of a car can ignore: leaning left or right to improve cornering, leaning forwards to improve speed on straights, backwards for better braking - there's even front and back wheel braking, for god's sake.
HELL ON WHEELS
Then there's the uniquely unforgiving handling of a bike. Some love the pressure of knowing that if your back wheel so much as touches a blade of grass then you're sent sprawling. Others hate the fact that the slightest brush with another rider sees you flying off your hog, receiving tenth-degree burns as your ass kisses the tarmac. It's for the latter camp, who have always been scared off by MotoGP's simulation-like attention to detail, that the game's most obvious addition has been made: Extreme Mode.
Extreme Mode will horrify MotoGP purists. It offers made-up riders riding fictitious bikes on street and public road courses only loosely inspired by the areas in which they are set, from deepest South Africa to rural middle England. As you might guess, Extreme Mode panders to the arcade racing fan. It's fast, it's friggin' furious, and most importantly, it's a piece of piss to get the hang of. The handling lets you get away with murder, and there's no need to worry about leaning, or whether to slam the front or back brakes. Thing is, without a gripping career option within Extreme Mode, this really feels like a feature that's only going to come into its own in multiplayer.
TOUR OF DUTY
Aside from handling and dynamics, realism has another meaning in a racing game, and an official licence is duty-bound to deliver every last drop of the detail and paraphernalia surrounding its sport. So as well as being
a high-velocity racing game, MotoGP is an absolute treasure trove for lovers of the sport, a veritable mud pit of detail to slop about in. Aprilias, Ducatis and Hondas - clearly the bikes are all in there. But more than that, should you wish to while away the hours in the virtual garage, you can customise your leathers, paint job and logos in an almost inexhaustible combination of ways, fiddle with the front and rear tyre compounds and suspension hardness, and tinker with the gear ratios to your heart's content.
All of which adds up to a customarily satisfying bike racer. It's damn fast, damn detailed, and with the added newbiefriendly Extreme Mode, it should ensure the bike game market is cornered for another year. It's doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it is does make it go round very, very fast.
Hottest thing on 2 wheels
- All the official riders, tracks and bikes
- Massive sense of speed
- Well-honed visuals
- It's hardly groundbreaking
- Motorbike racing is only for a select few
- Extreme Mode doesn't substantially change things