MotoGP 07 PS2 Review
There is one problem when you are reviewing a game that has niche appeal, that being, that most of the people who are interested in the game will have usually made up their mind about the damn thing already. These titles are usually heavily advertised in specialist press and are ruthlessly targeted towards their intended audience. They need to be, as these games also run the risk of being ignored by the masses, so this niche appeal is a way of getting guaranteed sales. It’s smart, it just means that they aren’t likely to sell to millions any time soon.
So, for fans, MotoGP ’07 features all the riders and courses from the most recent season and offers three increasingly comprehensive handling models that will suit fans of the sport regardless of their experience levels. It also features accurate bike physics based on REAL DATA, or so the press release tells me. For PS2 owning bike fans, MotoGP is still the king. Stick an eight out of ten about here.
What about those of us who DON’T follow MotoGP? Who don’t ride a motorcycle or even have an interest in them? Should we care about MotoGP?
First impressions are decent – the game looks pretty good. It’s not the best looking racer on the PS2, with some drab background visuals letting looking at odds with the well-animated riders, but the frame rate is smooth and without any drop whatsoever, meaning the feeling of speed is good. F-Zero X clearly teaching a few people a lesson. The game dumps you straight into a tutorial, which is a good idea for the uninitiated in the ways of MotoGP, but unfortunately the tutorial doesn’t really offer much help other than informing you to slow down on corners and to try out the various different ways of handling your bike. Three different settings are available – Arcade, Advanced and Simulation – each offering increasingly more comprehensive control over the bike and rider. By ‘comprehensive’, I mean ‘difficult’.
MotoGP is HARD. Hard as nails that have been reinforced by more nails. The fact that the game does place you straight into the aforementioned tutorial should have been a giveaway that this game was going to take some skill. Starting with the handling, Arcade mode lets you just tear around the tracks using X to accelerate and square to brake, with the cornering made slightly easier – provided you get your speed right when hammering into a bend. It’s not worth sticking with once you are past the basics, as this simplistic approach turns the game into a glorified version of Hang On, only without the amazing music. So, you crank up the handling realism and suddenly hit a brick wall. Getting used to braking with front and rear brakes, adjusting your riders stance and distributing their weight so you don’t stack it spectacularly on a bend takes a lot of practice. During this time, you’ll find yourself frustratingly last in every race you take part in. It’s not really a criticism, because the controls are brilliantly realistic, but it does mean the learning curve is set dauntingly steep from the very start – even more so for MotoGP virgins.
So, you’ve sussed it. The game has humiliated you for a few hours and you’ve stuck with it. What modes does MotoGP have to offer? Obviously, it has the full 2007 tournament in place – all the races, qualifying and practice runs are in place. The qualifying times are ridiculously tough to beat, and starting most races right at the back of the grid is par the course. There is a challenge mode, pitting you against the clock in time trials, races and even slalom, as well as the usual multiplayer. Quick race and practice modes further pad out the game.
The sound is pretty good, with bikes sounding, well, like bikes. Doesn’t sound like much of an achievement, but after years of playing racing games where it sounds like you are driving a high-powered hoover around a race track, quality engine noise is a rare treat. The music, however, is pretty poor. Some standard dance music plays behind the menus and fast becomes irritating, making you wish for custom soundtracks or, failing that, some decent music in future titles!
An attempt has been made to appeal to the ‘casual’ audience this year. Loading screens and pre-race sequences are filled with facts and information about riders and races – useful for those who have no clue who Valentino Rossi is – it just seems to be one that falls on deaf ears. The attention to detail and impressively realistic bike handling is worth writing home about, but it means MotoGP ’07 is still a game that really only hardcore fans of the sport will get anything out of. For them, it’s still the best bike racer on the PS2, and stands up strongly to it’s bigger Xbox360 brother. You probably already knew that though, didn’t you?
One for fans, and fans who are bloody good on their bikes.