The Xbox has already seen some solid racing titles, but more is typically better, especially when the system is still relatively new. Enter THQ and Climax, with an offering of a solid simulation-style motorbike racing game. Moto GP handles well and looks good and should easily please all those race fans looking for another title to add to their lineups.
Moto GP is not really unique in any way in its setup. It features many tried and true racing genre standards. You will find a standard “career” style mode in the Grand Prix and a more accessible “one-shot” setup in the Arcade Championship. Of course, there are also a variety of tracks, bikes and riders to choose from as well. Despite this standard fare, Moto GP still stands tall due to its ability to combine all its features well and offer a solid and entertaining experience.
The single most enjoyable part of all this is in the game’s control and gameplay. Unlike auto racing games, motorbikes require a little different handling style and Moto GP captures this well. As you race around the track, you can not rely on quick braking and powersliding (although it is possible), but must finesse your bike around corners and learn the feel of each bike’s abilities. You must start turns early and avoid off-road at all costs, keeping yourself tight to the track. This givesMoto GP a unique racing feel and really challenges the player who is only used to auto racing titles.
Moto GP sticks to the simulation aspect in the Grand Prix mode as well, and offers some challenge in learning the hardcore aspects of racing. In Arcade however, you get to have a little fun and drop some of the stricter racing requirements. You can earn points doing such stunts as wheelies and burnouts, offering a second, different mode to enjoy the game with.
Both modes, Grand Prix and Arcade, give you a lot to do in the game, with the Grand Prix mode being rather deep. The rider creation offers good flexibility and the system for improvement is nice, although nothing new. The game also allows you to continue into more seasons after winning the first and improve skills, although racing on the same tracks as before, so this can get repetitive as well.
The controls of Moto GP are remarkably smooth and the game offers a nice selection of setups that will help you find exactly the control scheme that works best. All the little nuances of motorbike racing are represented well, as you race around leaning forward to get more speed or putting more into a turn to try and take it faster. The game also “feels” fast, and gives a nice sensation of speed as you race down straightaways.
Ten tracks are offered throughout the game and give you a nice variety of racing styles. Sadly, motorbike racing is not the most diversified of racing types, so some tracks seem like slight variations of others and racing them can get boring after awhile if you are used to more variety in racing titles. A large assortment of licensed bikes and riders are also offered, and give a great selection for any style of bike you may want. As mentioned though, the Grand Prix has a nice rider creation as well. The game has some unlockables as well, such as mirrored or reversed tracks and various ‘fun’ modes, which can be accessed from both Grand Prix and Arcade modes.
Of course, multiplayer is present and Moto GP allows up to four players. Split screen is a pretty decent way to play, as the game design still allows an open field of view, even with half or quarter of the screen. Due to the more technical nature of the game, Moto GP does not get as wild as other racing games, but is still a fun multiplayer experience.
Moto GP not only offers up a solid gameplay experience, but is a great looking title on the Xbox. While the tracks need more diversity and detail, the riders are very well done and the effects, such as lighting, really add to the look of the game. There are some excellent intro videos for tracks in Grand Prix as well, that really add to the flavor of a race career. The sound is not as spectacular, but does do its job. It has all the right sounds, but nothing outstanding or memorable.
Moto GP is definitely geared more towards serious race fans, as it is definitely more of a simulation, even with its Arcade mode. For race fans though, it is a great game. Solid gameplay leads the way and really offers a deep career mode. A little more variety would have been nice, but there is still enough to master. Non-race fans may still find some fun as well, as motorbike racing is a change of pace from other styles, so it is worth at least a rental.