Most racing games require nothing more than the ability to follow a driving line and accelerate at the right time to win a race with ease, which is good news for casual racing fans, but for those who seek a real challenge it just doesn’t quite cut it. MXGP however is a fast paced, intense racing game that will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you sweating whilst trying to nail hairpin bends and 20 foot jumps.
The core game play mechanics of MXGP create an unrelenting challenge that require your utmost concentration for the whole of the time you spend playing it and trust me, you will spend a long time playing. By being able to control both the motorbike and the rider individually, players are given much more precision when it comes to navigating the vast, winding tracks of MXGP and any slip up or lapse in concentration will lead to your untimely demise by crashing into a sign, another racer or just losing balance and rag dolling onto the dirt before brushing yourself off and starting again.
Using the right stick to shift the weight of the rider and the left to angle the bike, you must constantly adapt your position to find the tightest line around a bend or navigate a series of small, but deadly, bumps on the track. Precision is key in MXGP and it is vital to not only win races, but to actually finish them.
Riding the motorbike in MXGP is all about skill and timing, after a while it feels like an exact science when you manage to time a jump perfectly so that you can zip ahead of the opposition. At times, MXGP can be so intense that one wrong slip of the left stick can take you from first place to last. I am reminded of the uber-hard F-Zero series when I pick MXGP, albeit much more realistic and without hover cars. However, the concept is still there; no use of a driving line to follow, just instinct and ambition to get you to first place.
There are three different levels of realism in MXGP: Base, Medium and Pro. Setting the level at Base still leaves you with a challenge, but it is manageable. Getting up to Pro however, is a completely different story as players must do battle with gravity and will inevitably be hitting the dirt if balance isn’t perfectly controlled.
Game developers Milestone have implemented their Serious Racing Simulation™ from other Moto GP games so the physics of the bike, the biker and the way you react to crunching into the dirt at high speeds are absolutely on point. It is a real shame however, that the visuals and sounds don’t match the feel of the game. The graphics are quite poor and areas more than 20 feet away from the bike are constantly rendering so nothing ever looks sharp or at all impressive. Also, in games like Forza 5 there is some inspirational background music that works to spur you on to victory, but with MXGP players are stuck with the not very realistic sound of a motorbike engine that gets rather grating rather quickly.
Game modes are your standard fare: Instant Race that places you on a random course with a random world-class rider; Championship gives you a choice of the 14 tracks to race on throughout a full season; Grand Prix is very similar to Championship only not a full season and with more choice of smaller scale races; Time Attack gives you the chance to beat your personal best and also try to manage perfect jumps on all of the tracks, something which is not only highly challenging but also gives a strong sense of accomplishment if you are actually able to succeed at not crashing. Online Multiplayer is good fun if you want to play individual races against 11 other petrol heads, but taking part in a full Championship is far to time consuming and can get boring after a while.
The best mode to play on is Career mode, where you create your own character and take them from a Wildcard nobody to World Champion by winning races in style and earning fans. The problem with all of these modes is the lack of character that Milestone show; even though there are 14 different tracks to choose from, the graphics are so poor that they all manage to blend into one after a few hours of playing.
MXGP is a testament to realism in racing games; it requires constant concentration, a deft hand and precision that comes only with practice. However, the poor graphics and sounds make the game suffer and questions its ability to break into mainstream markets instead of the niche core of Motocross fans who will buy this.