MotoGP 4 ReviewCain Dornan
The MotoGP series, while a faithful rendition of the popular worldwide sport, has never been overly interesting. Each title has offered the same, bland and uninspired gameplay that only pleased the true MotoGP fan. Unfortunately, Namcos latest addition to the series, exclusive to the Playstation 2, continues this disappointing tradition, providing yet another serving of uninteresting gameplay that often feels like a last generation title.
MotoGP 4 is, as the name suggests, the fourth installment in the officially licensed series. The series has been around for quite some time now and, unfortunately, there has offered a limited number of advancements between each edition. As such, the initial impressions of MotoGP 4 upon booting the game up is far from pleasing, as the outdated visuals, poor sound effects, forgettable music and aged gameplay leaves plenty to be desired.
MotoGP 4s key attraction is the Season mode, which is essentially a campaign type atmosphere, requiring you to progressively build your skill, reputation and respect through a series of races. Beginning at the small 125cc class, completing a season and winning it will ultimately result in progressing through to the higher 250cc class. Proving your skill in this class will yield access to the renowned MotoGP class; pitting you against faster, more experienced riders. Several times throughout your career you will be offered the chance to obtain upgrades for your bikes, such as better tires, a new frame or a more powerful engine. In order to obtain these upgrades, however, you are required to first test the new parts, which essentially involves participating in a task to discover whether you are capable of utilizing the part correctly. This ranges from garnering a high enough speed in a set distance through to going around a small portion of track without knocking over any safety cones. Unfortunately, you arent always instructed clearly on what is required to pass the test and, furthermore, you only get one chance to successfully pass the test. Failing to do so will ultimately result in remaining with your outdated parts, increasing the challenge against the other bikes that are boasting better parts.
When the Season mode becomes tiring, the simple Arcade mode is available to fill in any spare time that you may have. Allowing you to select your bike, track and weather conditions, this mode allows you to quickly and easily jump into a race of your choice.
Time Trial allows you to select a stage and race around it solo in an attempt to score the best lap and overall race time possible. Honing your skills in either the Season or Arcade modes will naturally yield better results in lap times.
The Challenge mode, unlike the previous modes listed, pits you into a fair number of challenges that requires you to test your skills in a range of conditions. These challenges usually range from racing one-on-one with another racer through to more interesting and difficult challenges. While there is nothing revolutionary about this mode, it is certainly a welcomed change that adds variation to the other bland modes on offer.
Finally, your average training mode is available for those inclined, however, the mode only really teaches maneuvers that can easily be learnt after playing the game for 10 minutes in any of the other modes, ultimately rendering the Training mode useless.
In each event that you complete in any of the above modes, you will be rewarded points based upon your performance. These points are then used to purchase unlockable extras in the Paddock mode. Unlockable extras include items such as photo sets, new wallpapers for the main menu screen and a range of motorbike-orientated videos and additional riders and bikes for you to use. The Paddock mode also includes other features, such as your stats, which recordes the number of kilometers that you have traveled, number of events that you have participated in and the number of wins that you have scored. The Paddock mode also allows you to view the pictures and videos that you have purchased and also view the vehicles that you have available in the Garage section.
Apart from the usual video and sound options, MotoGP 4 also allows you to modify your riders information. This includes specifying your characters country, their riding stance, the colour of their helmet, their name and their gender. While these details are not absolutely essential, it does allow for an interesting personal touch.
MotoGP 4 offers some impressive motorbike detail and animation, with the bike realistically reacting to acceleration, deceleration and turning. While the bike does not appear to react to road surfaces directly, the accurate representation of movement is certainly satisfying.
Other visual aspects, on the other hand, are appalling. The animation of opposing motorbikes is extremely basic and non-realistic, never reacting to a large bump that is incurred when you come into contact with them. Furthermore, environment detail is absolutely appalling; with surrounding vegetation, buildings and signs offering poor, bland and extremely basic design and detail. Overall, MotoGP 4 is a rather boring looking title, offering virtually no eye candy.
MotoGP 4 fails horrendously in the sound department, failing to accurately replicate a range of sound effects. The motorbikes themselves simply do not sound as they should, and the sound effects of riding on different surfaces are virtually unnoticeable. Furthermore, in-game music is appalling, offering repetitive and tasteless music that fails to associate with the game in any way.
While the potential of creating a solid motorbike racer is certainly there, Namco fails to utilize any of this potential to its full advantage. The end result is a boring, uninspired title that feels rather old on almost every scale, providing a repetitive experience that offers absolutely nothing unique. While the true hardcore MotoGP fan will likely enjoy MotoGP 4, there is no denying that the lesser of us fans will be hard pressed to spend longer than an hour with the game. Hopefully Namco realizes these problems and focuses their full attention on solving the numerous problems with the next title in the series.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.