MotoGP '06 ReviewCain Dornan
Climax; a developer who is beginning to establish itself as one of the premier racing developers currently within the industry. While they may not have reached the level of fame and respect that equals the likes of Gran Turismo series developer, Polyphony Digital, Climaxs history of creating solid racing titles is continuing to grow, with the latest addition to the companys rather popular motorbike racing franchise, the MotoGP series, further concreting the companys position within the gaming industry.
While no major gameplay advancements have been introduced in MotoGP 06 when compared to previous installments, the game still manages to provide a refreshingly enjoyable experience that even gamers with only a limited interest in motorbikes will enjoy. Catering for both the realistic gamer who demands accurate simulation or arcade action, MotoGP 06 offers a pleasing level of gameplay variation that is further backed with a solid single player and multiplayer offering.
On the single player plate, those wanting to simply jump into a quick game with a few basic options on hand can roll into the Quick Race mode, allowing for a near-instant jump into a level of your choice, including the ability to choose your bike, laps and the difficulty of your AI-controlled opponents. The real attraction for single player gaming, however, is the Racing Career mode. Here, players are pitted into several different campaigns that span over a 17-event season. Theres the Grand Prix campaign, the games core simulation racing mode, which allows for the competing in the MotoGP event, including the featuring of all 17 official tracks, riders and bikes from both the 2005 and 2006 seasons. In traditional fashion, this mode focuses on the realistic world of motorbike racing; youre riding aboard a powerful, growling two-wheeled machine that you must direct around tight, weaving and chicane-ridden tracks as you aim to beat your opponents around the track. This mode incorporates a more simulation-styled gameplay approach, involving a fairly accurate representation of bike handling and weather conditions. But it doesnt overdo the simulation to an extent that it becomes a chore to play. Despite its many realistic elements, the Grand Prix section is still easily accessible for newcomers to the genre, but can also offer a challenge for the more experienced gamer based on the difficulty level that you choose.
Kicking the simulation aspects aside and opting for a more arcade-influenced gaming style, MotoGP 06s Extreme events allow for a more colourful and varied racing experience. This mode allows you to choose from bikes at varying engine sizes: 600, 1000 or 1200. While each engine size has a noticeable influence on the way the bike travels and handles, the mode is heavily geared towards high-speed adrenaline action. Its quite easy to throw your bike around most of the Extreme tracks, of which are based around scenic city landscapes, without having to watch your racing line too carefully. Theres also a greater level of customization on hand, giving you the ability to fully customize your riders appearance by outfitting them with both racing and casual clothing and gear to suit your liking. The creativity and variation in the bikes on offer is also a welcomed addition.
With each of the events in either of the above modes, youre offered the chance to refine your riding skill in the Challenge events, which allow you to rack up some additional rider points (to be explained shortly) and the occasional achievements to help boost your gamer points. The challenge mode requires you to perform a range of against-the-clock orientated challenges, such as negotiating a tricky chicane or a series of sweeping corners within a given time, or completing a section of a track within a time limit.
The aforementioned rider points in the above paragraph refers to the RPG-styled leveling-up of your riders skills as you complete racing or challenge events. Essentially, you are awarded points based on your performance, of which you can use to build up your skills in the areas of cornering, braking, top speed and acceleration. Obviously, building up your points in each area will improve the appropriate skill of your rider. This system is particular useful as it allows for the further customization of how you play the game. While you can also do the standard motorbike-alterations to suit the conditions and riding style, the ability to define what your rider is best at will allow you to further excel in the areas that are most appropriate to your riding style.
If you tire of playing alone against the decent AI-controlled opponents, you can take the game online with both the MotoGP or Extreme bikes and tracks. The online portion of MotoGP 06 is your standard Xbox 360 online fare; you have the option of competing in either ranked or un-ranked player matches, with the ability to determine which of the above modes to compete in. During our playtest of the game, we occasionally found it difficult to find some online opponents, with some occasions redeeming no available opponents for an hour or two. At other times, however, we were able to jump right into an online game. Supporting up to sixteen players per event, we didnt experience any troublesome lag issues whilst online, apart from the occasional hopping bikes, which made it seem as though your opponents were hopping along the course, rather than driving around it smoothly.
Alternatively, if you dont have a connection to Xbox Live or little interest in competing online, you can take on your mates through either four-player split screen or system link with up to sixteen competitors. When playing two-player split screen, the game plays identical to the single player component. However, once you throw three or four players onto the single console, the gameplay begins to become a bit too touchy, with the graphics taking a slight drop in its level of quality and detail. We found it to be rather awkward playing the game in four player, even on our large television, although through repeated plays players will likely become accustomed to the slightly different racing experience.
While it isnt exactly the best looking racer available for the Xbox 360, MotoGP 06 generally offers some impressively detailed visuals to drool at when you arent wrestling your two-wheeled monster through some tight turns. The bike and riders in particular offer great detail and animation; you can make out individual parts of the bike very easily, and the animation and reaction to various circumstances and occurrences is pleasing. Each of the bikes also sound distinctly different depending on their engine size, and all sound true to the real thing. The tracks in which you race on come in a mix bag; while some levels look stunning, particular the street landscapes found in the Extreme mode, some others look particularly plain and boring.
MotoGP 06 doesnt exactly introduce anything new to the series, or the motorbike racing genre. What it does do, however, is provide an overall satisfying and well-executed experience, one that both simulation and arcade gamers will equally enjoy. The game plays well, looks great and sounds good three elements of a game that combine to provide a worthwhile experience.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.