It’s a face full of mud.
Mud. That is pretty much all I could tell you about Motocross. There is mud involved. There are also motorbikes, which sometimes fly through the air. There are endorsements from snappily names companies, I know that. Oh, and it is the subject of the latest game from Milestone. So, with that vast amount of knowledge about the subject, I better take a look at MXGP: The Official Motocross Videogame.
While I don’t really know a lot about Motocross in the real world, I do know about riding motorbikes up massive hills in videogame form and grabbing some major air. However, as I would soon come to realize, jumping as high as possible is not actually a good thing in Motocross, and MXGP simulates that fact quite well. More on having my wings clipped in a moment…
MXGP: The Official Motocross Videogame keeps everything serious and authentic for the fans of the sport, as far as I know anyway. Players will find themselves competing in both MX2 and the more powerful MX1 classes, and they will come up against famous names from the sport. There is even a more simulated mode available that will really test the skills of anyone pro enough to try it out.
But maybe we are getting ahead of ourselves here. Alongside the various different quick race modes, which include the likes of time attacks and Grand Prix, most players will spend the largest chunk of their MXGP time within the campaign. It is here that the player will create a rider and then struggle through the ranks of the sport, through both MX2 and MX1, until they reach the heady heights of simply being the greatest.
Along the way, players will unlock new equipment to both enhance their look and improve their ride. They will also be approached by sponsors who want to plaster their logo across everything you own, with the bigger, more desirable sponsors coming as the player increases in skill and standing. Then there are the social networks to keep an eye on, handy for checking out your following and also to develop rivalries with competitors.
But let’s face it, all of these career shenanigans are for naught if the bike handling is messed up. Fortunately, Milestone’s pedigree with other racing titles shines through to provide MXGP with what I would imagine to be very realistic handling. Of course, this all depends on the player chooses the arcade-like experience or the realistic game. But even the arcade experience offers a challenge.
When it comes to the handling, players will find themselves dealing with two sticks alongside the acceleration and braking. The left stick controls the handlebars and the bike, while the right stick controls shifting the weight of the player. This makes tight corners at speed a matter of slapping both sticks, but not so much as to make the rider come off the bike. It really is a learning process, but it adds a new level to the gameplay that goes beyond simply pointing the bike in the right direction and gunning it.
Winning races is what the game is all about, after all, and doing so will require a fair level of skill with the bike. Not only will the player find themselves taking the slippery corners, which become even more slippery and bumpy as the laps progress, at high speed and carefully nudging through to the front of the pack without clipping other riders and coming off, but they will also have to fight the urge to fly high over the big jumps. Simply put, you cannot pick up speed while your bike is in the air, so keeping the jumps small or shifting the weight so that the bike almost lays down as you launch over a jump will result in not only a sense of being pretty awesome, but also more acceleration and more wins.
Sadly, despite the excellent handling and the degrading tracks, the ragdoll physics which can be seen throughout the game, not only when the player comes off their bike, are so completely over the top that it tends to burst any bubble of immersion that the player may have formed. Limbs flailing in ungodly directions suggest that the sport is inhabited by people who have rubber bones. Add to this the ghostly riders who can be driven straight through when they are on the floor, and it becomes obvious that MXGP is perhaps not the tour de force that fans of the sport would hope for.
Still, once the campaign is all done and the player wants to get their feet wheels muddy with some real world opponents, even though the AI opponents are pretty good in the game, they can head online for some multiplayer action featuring up to 12 riders.
MXGP: The Official Motocross Videogame is undoubtedly a niche title which may struggle to appeal to many gamers. That being said, it is pretty good at what it does and is surprisingly fun. Motocross fans should rush out and grab this straight away, but if the idea of riding a motorbike through loads of mud at high speed sounds like something you might enjoy, MXGP: The Official Motocross Videogame would be worth checking out.