It’s finally here, the first next-generation MotoGP game for the beloved Xbox 360. The new title being made by the geniuses at Climax once again puts you behind a two wheeled machine that travels in excess of 300mph. We can only expect the best from Climax as they have been making games for the MotoGP series for quite some time and each and every game gets better and better, lets hope the same is said for MotoGP 06: Ultimate Racing Technology.
MotoGP in essence has its own genre as there are not that many motorbike racers currently available. What’s more it will be a very long time before we see a new bike game on the 360, so for the time being MotoGP fans can only turn to Climax’s new title, but does it offer the realism and the graphical prowess that fans yearn for. Climax and THQ are praying that it will. [Ed - Me too]
The MotoGP series has been very successful; I myself still have the first MotoGP title on the Xbox, the game which launched Xbox Live. Their previous title MotoGP 3 was an unbelievable success; it outclassed it's predecessors and was a joy to play, so Climax being like any clever company has used aspects of the ultra successful MotoGP3 in the new MotoGP 06. Don’t worry though as they’ve taken but a few new aspects and added them to the already long list of new features which are included in the new game.
Of course like any MotoGP games you get the usual licensed bikers, tracks and of course bikes. From 1200cc’s to V-5’s and
’s to Ducati’s there is quite a lot on offer. What’s more you can also customise your bike, but to be honest the customisation aspect is very hard work and you never get the result you were looking for. [Ed - I am sure fans of Forza designing will love it then] Even so it’s always nice to show of your pink bike with yellow spots online, or whatever else you’re into. Another cool aspect is that in Extreme mode you can add custom parts to your bike and thus make it glide across the asphalt, of course all the bikes in the game can’t go past a certain spec, which I think is a very good idea as its annoying when you play games online with other players custom cars maxed out to be perfect.
The actual realism of the game is where it truly shows of its talent. The way each and every bike feels unique when riding it is such a great feeling, Kawasaki’s feel lighter and a bit easier to drop down with, where as the Ducati seems slow of the mark but is great at high speeds. The actual learning curve of the game is very steep as it is a very hard game to master. Granted, after playing a Rookie Grand Prix you’ll think that you are the worlds greatest with 425 GP points behind you and a nice new bike, but when you race others who have more experience, you will suddenly realise that you are about as good as Peter Crouch in a football match. Saying that if you take each Grand Prix difficulty on one at a time (Rookie, Pro, Champion, Legend) and manage to complete all 4 of them, you should then be able to give some of the worlds best racers a run for their money.
MotoGP titles have always been harder then car games, taking corners requires so much precision which puts games like Ridge Racer, where you can take corners at 194828387476mph (rough estimate) to shame. Also dropping the bike is a big part of the game as is power sliding, if you want to be a perfect racer you have to overcome both of them. To power-slide you simply pull the throttle back twice and you will feel your rear wheel starting to slide out. If you get it right you will end up with a very nice exit speed, get it wrong and you will see your bike flip over and your limp body fly up into the air. Also dropping your bike is a key part of the game, drop to far and you have to let go of the throttle which damages your exit speed, to little and you’ll find yourself clipping the edge of the track and losing valuable seconds.
There is a short training mode in the game which isn’t that difficult, but it does show beginners some of the problems you’ll find yourself facing while racing (well maybe not doing wheelies). You will also see various challenges which vary in difficulty; this includes things like following MotoGP racers like Vermuelen and Rossi and also reaching a certain speed out of corners. If you complete a challenge you can add an extra point to your bikes performances bars, but be warned as some of them are very, very difficult and you might find your controller split in two and your 360 out the window.
Xbox Live on MotoGP like so many other games is where the game starts to truly become awesome. You can have up to 15 other players racing alongside you, it’s especially good when you are in the lead and you hear the distant screams of your opponents as they slip further and further behind. There are a few different race modes, but you will mostly find yourself simply racing to win in a Grand Prix, Extreme or your own custom bike. Of course there is a vast leaderboard where you can compete with your friends and see who gets to the highest position on the worldwide ladders. A neat little feature online is the seeding system, yes I know its predominantly made for the single player mode, even so the game will usually only place you in a game which has other racers whose seed is the same as yours. This makes most races pretty fair, that is unless you get put in with T-Boners and fishtailers. Lag wise it isn’t that bad, you will find that on a few occasions the opponents bikes will jump, but it’s never really that bad and it doesn’t happen that often either.
On the whole the game isn’t that much different from MotoGP 1, 2 and 3. I mean they haven’t even bothered to change the on and offline interfaces. The same is said with the bikes, they handle just like the older games and to be completely honest there are some aspects of the bike which could be made a tad more realistic, like the power ratios of the front and back brakes. Also in general despite having one new mode there isn’t much else veteran MotoGP fans can look forward, well that isn’t including the graphics of course. Despite gameplay wise it being practically a port of MotoGP 3 it is still a great game to play, it’s faster, tenser and generally more exciting than the four wheeled equivalent.
Now onto the part of the game where it truly shines (pun kind of intended). The graphics in MotoGP 06 are nothing short of amazing and at times the game does truly hit the next-gen barrier. The bikes are so beautifully crafted, each panel, wind mirror, mud guard have all been created from scratch and when they are all put together you find yourself looking at a thing of pure beauty. The way each and every bike has its own unique look is nothing new, but MotoGP 06 just makes them look so perfect. There are hardly any jaggies on the two wheeled machines, unlike games like PGR3 where most turned a blind eye and said that wasn’t true (face it, PGR3 is jaggy heaven). The riders also look amazing, this is even more apparent when you are in the middle of the race and you see Valentino Rossi creep up behind, it’s amazing how realistic his leathers look, you actually feel like you’re watching a real MotoGP on BBC2.
The games lighting also adds to the realism, the way the sunlight reflects off not only the bike and leathers, but also the rider’s helmet and visor all make for a very pretty scene. Not forgetting the track of course, where lighting plays a huge part in making it look that little bit more 3D, especially on the Extreme races you will notice divots and potholes are brought to life with MotoGP’s beautiful lighting. Animation wise the game is practically perfect, it’s the little things like seeing the twitch of the bikers foot when he changes gear, or the wrench of the wrist as he slams the throttle on which make this game worth the £40 price tag. Granted when you crash your body can go through the bike, float in mid air, defy gravity and on the whole carry the traits of Superman, despite all that it is still a joy to look at what Climax has created.
Sadly that’s not the end of the graphics discussion as we now come to the bad parts of MotoGP and there are a few of these. The first and worst problem I found is that the game tears, as in you see a nice juicy line going across your screen where the top image hasn’t caught up with the bottom and let me tell you it is a horrid site and in a flash all the games realism is thrown out the window. Also it lags, I’m not talking about Xbox Live lag, I’m talking about offline when you go through a few really tight corners, it’s almost as if the game judders, or stalls and again it just ruins the general feel of the game. I also noticed that the in-bike view and the bikes shadow is unbelievably pixelated and what’s more the dials on the in-bike view don’t move, it’s like they don’t want you to use it which is a real shame. Finally the games surroundings look like something from MotoGP1, it’s almost as if the guys at Climax decided to just chuck the old backgrounds in to save time and things like the crowd, trees and even buildings at times look diabolical.
If you don’t take into account the judders, tears and bad backgrounds the game does have the graphical prowess of a next-generation title. Another thing to note is that the judders and the tears will no doubt be fixed by an update, so for the time being I’d live with it, as it is still a stunningly beautiful game.
Audio wise you can hardly fault the game, each bike sounds so nice. The low churn of metal, chains and rubber are perfectly delivered through 5.1 surround sound. The low grunts of the Ducati and the high pitched whirr of the Kawasaki ’s all make for a very nice audio presentation. You know that the sounds have been collected using the real thing, someone has gone out, put a microphone by the rear end of a bike and just let it rip. That in itself is one of the highlights of MotoGP as you don’t get the fabricated sounds from games like Full Auto and Need for Speed, MotoGP even puts PGR3 to shame.
On the whole the game is in parts a port of MotoGP3 , you have very similar gameplay, replica interfaces and copied and pasted modes. Despite all that it still has a great online mode, absolutely blinding graphics and audio which will make bike lovers go weak at the knees. What with all the licensed bikes, riders and of course tracks would you really want to pass up the opportunity to play, why of course not? The final question is, is it truly worth £40? Then answer is simply yes!
Originally Written By: Lee Matthews