Whilst many gamers may be more comfortable on four wheels rather than two, this hasn't stopped the appearance of various Motocross games on the Xbox. PQube and Milestone have combined once again for more two wheeled goodness in the form of MXGP2 - The Official Motocross Videogame
. With plenty of modes, bikes, tracks and racers, would this be the game that Milestone promised would "satisfy the needs of all Motocross fans"?
The finish line is in sight
The first thing that the game offers is to create your rider and your team. The customisation is limited, and you'll mainly be giving you character a name and a number, as well as picking your team name and a logo from a choice of pre-designed emblems. Whilst these design options may be limited, you won't be paying too much attention to your rider's name and features, and you'll no doubt be wanting to sign for a bigger team eventually, so these don't have much of an impact in the long run. With the creation bit done, you can move onto the actual racing and the game offers you a few different online and offline modes in which to don your motorbike. If you are new to the genre, then the game does a good job of welcoming you in with tutorial videos that explain the different aspects of motorbike racing and how to get to grips with it. The addition of showing a controller in the videos and the different buttons that are required means that newbies will feel like they've been given a significant heads up about what to expect before they jump straight in.
The main three modes on offer are MXGP, Career and Online, then from there you can pick either Championship, Time Trial or Grand Prix. Each of these is fairly self explanatory and offers a nice mix of both longer and shorter races, against the clock or against other racers. Easily navigable menus means that you can jump into races fairly quickly, but the loading times for both online and offline races seems surprisingly long. Don't be surprised to spend a lot of your time staring at loading screens. Once you eventually get to them, the races themselves have a number of options that you can switch around in order to help or hinder your racing. Changing the AI difficulty can give more or less of a challenge, something that is helpful to allow new riders to make the races easier and allows veteran racers to give themselves more of a challenge if they feel like they need it.
Make your fellow racers a whizz on their wheels, or a toddler on a tricycle
The game offers enough freedom to play about with the settings and race with the ones that suit you the best. In addition to the AI difficulty, the assists, specifically to do with the front and back brakes, can be switched to make life a little easier or harder again. Having both brakes assigned to the one button means that you don't have to worry about the control as much, whereas having them seperate gives you more freedom to move the bike as you want. Similarly, setting the physics to realistic means that you will see your bike falling and skidding a lot more due to the movement. You'll learn pretty quickly which assists you'll want, but the game is forgiving in terms of the racing in that even a gamer who is new to the motorbike scene should be able to jump straight in.
The controls won't take long to master, even with the two separate brakes, and the game even offers a rewind function. You can rewind the action nine times per race, whether its due to a crash or going off course. Each will take the action back by approximately five seconds race time and you can redo your actions. Even with the cooldown on this skill, it is definitely a handy feature to have in your pocket for the more difficult tracks, especially if you happen to crash and send your rider flying up into the air, which is an annoying, if not amusing, glitch.
For the rest of the time on the tracks, you'll have to focus on skill and hope for a little bit of luck; you should be able to conquer a lot of the courses with few problems. The courses are set across a number of different countries and the game reflects this with day/night and weather changes, as well as the usual flag waving in the crowd and stand out scenery in the background. Sadly, the tracks do start to get a little repetitive after a while, especially if you are set to do a practise, qualifying and then two races on each. You can drop it to just the two races, but even then you may find yourself bored by the time that you come to do the track the second time. Due to the mud based nature of the tracks, they sometimes feel a little dull and you'd be forgiven for getting fed up of seeing the same type of scenery over and over again, especially as the lack of colour on the rest of the track means the game isn't particularly eye catching. You'll be glad of the colourful outfits and bikes that give you something to admire.
Get used to that muddy track
You'll likely be spending a lot of your time in the career mode while trying to get to the top of the table to win the championship and move up the ranks. Starting in the bottom rank, you'll move up if you win enough races and catch the eyes of new teams and sponsors, eventually working your way into the MXGP leagues. The problem is that you can switch leagues in the middle of your career, so you can go from being at the top of one, to coming in at the bottom of a new league in the middle of the season. In this case, you don't have enough races left to win the league, so you have to start over again the next season. A better move might have been to do a season in one, then to let you move up once the new season starts over.
You'll be able to build your rep by beating certain players and hitting certain positions set by your sponsor. Credits can be earned by placing as high as possible, although these are also affected by your AI difficulty. These credits can then be used to buy new bikes and bike upgrades. Whilst the upgrades screen is fairly obvious to navigate, bike purchasing is more problematic. Each of the brands has three or four bikes for sale, all of which have the same name and model number and seemingly little difference between them. For someone who has little prior knowledge of bikes, the differences could have been better explained.
The online mode is easy to jump into with little problems joining races, but the problems started once the race had been joined. You seem to get stuck in the list of racers, sometimes for at least ten minutes. This is presumably whilst racers finished their practice or qualifying, but the game doesn't see fit to let newly connected players join in. Once actually in the race, everything runs well and there is minimal lagging. With 20 odd racers, there's plenty of opportunity for a bit of rough and tumble in the races but this only adds to the fun and means that a bit of luck might see you the unlikely winner. The host has the job of choosing the various settings for each race, so you can be faced with anything. In all modes, you'll be kept up to date with crashes and overtakes via a small scrolling text, which is placed in such a way to be noticeable but not distracting. The map takes a similar approach and there is only a slight line and dot to show rider position and approaching obstacles, so it's often easier to look at the track to see if you're bearing down on a big jump or tight corner.
Use your eyes to see what's coming rather than the map
Finally, real events are short challenges that start by showing a real piece of MXGP footage, maybe of a race that started badly by a racer stalling, or where three racers are fighting for the win. With these events, the game will then throw you straight into the action and challenge you to either change the real outcome of that race or succeed in doing what one of the racers did against the odds. These change the pace from the usual racing, and can really offer you a challenge when it comes to winning from the back or going neck and neck with your fellow racers. More of these will unlock as you go along.
In terms of achievements, the game offers you 41 for your 1000 gamerscore. A lot of these are for simply winning a race at each of the various tracks
with different bikes and different racers, so you shouldn't have much problem getting these. Winning a race with the pro physics enabled might take a bit of practice, but even this shouldn't cause you too much trouble after a couple of tries. Only two online achievements mean that you aren't obligated to stick with multiplayer if it isn't your thing, and winning the career MXGP championship
will be your main goal. You'll also want to complete all of the real events. With difficulty level having no impact on achievements, those that are struggling can lower the AI to give themselves a bit of a boost. Overall, this shouldn't be too hard a completion.
Fans of motorbike racing will no doubt be able to have some fun here even if there are problems with this latest instalment in the MXGP
series. The ability to jump into the game with no prior MX experience and the addition of assists and rewinds means than anyone can try the game, going on to win and challenge for the championships in no time. Unfortunately, the game is let down by the long loading times and the repetitive feel of the tracks, amongst other things that need improving. There's nothing groundbreaking going on here, but there's enough for players to have a few hours of fun riding their bike around a muddy track.
- Accessible for beginners
- AI difficulty and assist options offer varying difficulties
- Handy rewind feature
- Real events mode provides change from usual racing
- Long loading screens for both online and offline races
- Tracks feel repetitive
- Confusing bike purchases
The reviewer spent approximately 8 hours fighting for pole position and largely being successful, unlocking 38 of the game's 41 achievements. An Xbox One copy of this game was provided for the purpose of this review.