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Not being a huge racing fan myself, regardless of the vehicle, presented me with somewhat of a challenge in performing a techy review of MotoGP 08. I enjoy racing games, don't get me wrong but I've not watched a grand prix or rally in my life. I began my gaming career with the lighter, less serious titles with the likes of Megarace 2, and Road Rash, and while overall I played similar games throughout my gaming career, I also occasionally dipped into more sim like titles with Project Gotham Racing and Gran Turismo 4.
Having enjoyed games from both arcade style, and simulation ilks, I was interesting to see what I thought of MotoGP 08, as it's designed to mirror the real world racing experience with a few arcade elements; a molding of the 2 styles could be interesting.
The tutorial at the start of the game gives you a chance to test out your racing ability and the game recommends a style based on your skill. Be it Arcade (the most easy to control and more throttle friendly), Advanced (a little harder to control with more realistic bike physics) and Simulation, designed to be as close to riding a real bike as you can get while holding a controller and sitting on a plush leather sofa.
You'll have your helmeted form grazing across the asphalt unless you get those turns bang on, every time.
After having a play with the different modes, I was forced to settle on Arcade, as even then I could barely make it round the corners. This is one of those, break, then turn, then accelerate games. No hand break turns like you can in a car, you'll have your helmeted form grazing across the asphalt unless you get those turns bang on, every time.
Speaking of which, the camera focuses on the bike when you crash. Ok, seeing a revving, racing machine smash into a stack of octagonal tyres is one thing, but why can't I watch my own ragdoll form grind across the track?
After completing the tutorial section, Career mode is where most people will spend their time, as it allows you to not only create your own rider, but customise and upgrade your bike as you progress through the seasons. Here you get to choose the size of bike to ride, be it 125CC, 250CC or MotoGP. Thinking how bad I sucked at the nice and easy tutorial track - coming over a minute behind the leader - I chose 125CC and geared up for some serious racing.
However, once in game I was a little under whelmed. The bike seemed incredibly slow, and hit it's max speed of around 120KPH within seconds, leaving me waiting for a corner so that something could happen. I understand this is the slowest class of bike in the game, but doing 120KPH (70MPH) should give you a good sensation of speed, but nothing. Again, sliding all over the place I made it through the first race with a couple of other gripes in my mind:
Firstly, no music. What happened here? I don't know. You get menu music, loading screen music, but once in-game; nada. My only guess here is that the makers really wanted to hammer home how much like really riding in a bike race is. Ok fair enough, taking part in a full MotoGP race with thousands of spectators might sound great, but listening to the whining, puttering sound of my piddly 125cc bike as it hits it's limit at high revs is not only boring, it's irritating. Give me some damn music!
This isn't a pick up and play title, and the name "arcade" for the easier setting of racing is very misleading.
Secondly, I might just be awful at this game, but even on medium difficulty, with the lowest speed bike on one of the first tracks I'm still struggling to make each corner and finishing in the bottom 1/4 of the racers makes me think this game's learning curve is perhaps a little to steep.
Moving on and running through a few more races, trying different bike sizes different tracks, I got the true feeling that this is one for the hardcore racers. This isn't a pick up and play title, and the name "arcade" for the easier setting of racing is very misleading. Even that feels more like a sim mode than arcade as it's still difficult to corner at speed, and even harder to do so without leaving the track. I appreciate what they were trying to do with the different settings, but considering the trouble I had with this, I think they'd have been better off as marketing this as simulation game only, with easier and harder race modes.
For the true fan of two wheel racing, who wants a real competitive simulation experience, I'm sure this title will deliver, but for me with a learning curve as steep as this, I really struggled to get into the game. That and that every time I rode level with another rider I wanted to punch him in the face. Unfortunately, this game is no Road Rash.
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