Funny story, I don’t think I was supposed to be reviewing MXGP2, our promotional copy arrived at my address but had Ben’s name on it. Regardless, I’m the resident racing game fan so it made more sense for me to keep hold of it rather than forward it on to our resident Beat-em up player. That being said, I don’t tend to get on very well with motorcycles in video games, I think the last motorcycle racing game I was any good at was a Ricky Carmichael game on the original PlayStation, which despite being of a similar racing discipline was a very different type of racing game.
MXGP2 then, if the name didn’t give it away, is the latest motorcycle racing title from Italian developers Milestone (whom over the years have covered a huge variety of racing disciplines) and carries the official MXGP licenses, featuring over 60 individual bikes from key manufacturers such as KTM and Suzuki over two different racing classifications. Your key focus will be the games career mode wherein you create your own rider, partake in races and gradually earn enough money to improve your bike, customise your kit and improve your chances of winning races.
You see MXGP2 isn’t like most other racing games, you probably wont be winning races from the off as your competitors will have far better bikes than you, so its all about grinding out results over a period of time, which will rub some players up the wrong way (its that or I was absolutely woeful at the game), I personally didn’t mind this as it ties in well with the simulation focus that the game has. The core element of the game, riding the bike, takes an incredible amount of input that I’ve not experienced in any other racing game as you tend to control your rider rather than the bike, shift your weight backwards and forwards to find that extra bit of grip, riding the clutch to keep revs high as you exit corners and learning the optimal angle for taking off of jumps at in order that you land in a manner that you don’t lose too much speed, its incredibly taxing and requires ,pre attention than the current highest profile motorcycle game Driveclub Bikes (which itself covers a different style of bike).
This also makes the deformable terrain an important feature. As you’re riding around the ground beneath your wheels will compact and the behaviour of the circuit will change. However it only does this to a certain extent, and feels really inconsistent, what should be a key feature feels poorly realised and leads to the game feeling frustrating, as does the overly aggressive track boundaries and harsh punishments for cutting them. No one likes opponents cutting corners, but in MXGP2 there are some corners that you step ever so slightly out of the boundaries on and you’re immediately punished by having your bike reset to the middle of the circuit (often further back then where you exited the corner) at a standing start with your competitors flying off into the distance. What’s all the more frustrating is that this punishment is applied in an inconsistent manner, a number of times on a few circuits I was able to take aggressive short cuts on corners without any punishment whatsoever, which again, makes the entire race experience feel really frustrating. I’m not one for wanting to go out of the boundaries of a circuit, but when such harsh punishments are applied inconsistently it just annoys me.
Thing is, I really want to like MXGP2, I was really looking forward to playing a racing game that offered something different, a lot of the road bike based games cover similar circuits to a lot of the racing game that feature cars and all of those feature pretty much the same roster of cats to drive so a dirt bike game genuinely had me feeling enthusiastic about playing something a little different, and the technical mechanics of riding the bike are genuinely intriguing and challenging, but there’s just so much about the overall quality of the whole experience to be gained from this game that I jut didn’t want to sink anymore time into it than I felt I needed to have done to provide this review.