Don't I look cool in spandex?
Motorcycle racers have got to be some of the most insane people on the planet. They race at extremely high speeds with only a thin layer of clothing and a crash helmet to keep them from sustaining copious amounts of bodily harm. Sounds pretty cool, huh?
Well, I guess it is pretty cool as long as you don't wipe out. Human Anatomy 101 has definitely shown me a thing or three when it comes to bad motorcycle accidents. So for all you racer types that want to keep your vital parts intact, might I recommend playing a video game instead?
To kick off the launch of the Playstation 2, Namco has brought forth Moto GP, a fast paced motorcycle racer. Featuring real tracks, real riders and real bikes, Moto GP manages to bring gamers the ultimate in two-wheeled racing...though that's about it.
Five modes grace the main menu of the game, offering a variety of ways to tear up the track. Arcade mode leads the pack, with a single race that pits players against a field of twenty other riders. Season mode follows close behind with a four-race championship that will ultimately separate the men from the boys. Next up, we have the Time Trial, which sets you up on a solo run against the clock in typical time trial fashion. Challenge mode offers various scenarios for racers to overcome, some of which are based on performances in the other modes. Doing well in the challenge results in medals and possibly a few unlockable goodies. Lastly, we have the Versus mode where you and a friend can butt heads.
One of the really cool aspects in Moto GP is the ability to switch between the arcade and simulation styles of play. The arcade style is great for learning each of the tracks without having to worry too much about bike physics. For players who want an awesome ride with a realistic feel, though, the simulation style is where the action is. No more bumping into other riders or taking turns in the horizontal position because now you've got to deal with a pesky little problem called gravity.
Regardless of what style of play you choose, bike control follows along the line of a simulation. Even though the bikes are quite agile, they still won't be able to take a tight U-turn at speeds approaching 200 mph. I advise spending some time in arcade mode before making the jump to the touchier controls in sim.
Graphically, Moto GP makes a solid effort with no huge problems. Everything from the bikes to the riders will give players the smooth visual experience of being at the racetrack. One particularly stunning visual achievement that you'll find in the game is the accurate depiction of the way bikes and riders move. As the bikes move from side to side, riders will shift their positions. Tight turns will send the riders dangling precariously over the edge of their machines. Also, collisions with other cyclists give both bike and rider a set of wings they never knew they had.
The only graphical problems worth mentioning fall into the anti-aliasing department. This is a game that could benefit from a little edge blurring, though overall the graphics are very good.
Moto GP's audio experience fits in very well with the visuals. Decent sound effects along with an energetic sound track keep the excitement of the game going strong.
Another neat little feature found in Moto GP is the race replay. When the race is finally said and done, you'll automatically be shown a cinematic replay. Several different camera angles make it seem almost as if you were watching the event on television. There's even a trackside cam that vibrates as the bikes pass and a helicopter cam that takes some awesome overhead shots. It would have been nice to be able to control which angle is viewed, but even without that feature, the replay is something to behold.
Moto GP has the heart of an arcade racer, the attitude of a console game, and the body of, well" a motorcycle game. It does everything it needs to do, but that's about it. You won't find any mind-boggling special features or revolutionary gameplay, but what you will find is a solid two-wheeled racer that gets the job done.