MotoGP 08 PS3 Review

If there’s more chocolate going around, life is all the better for it, although not everything is better when there’s more, at least not for some folk. Take motorbike riders for instance, they settle for two wheels instead of four and risk tumbling off their bikes with each corner that they bravely take. Racing games of the two wheel variety are certainly lesser in number than games with four wheels, and now that the full MotoGP licence is exclusively Capcom’s there’s even less choice available to multi console owners.

Following on from last years debut MotoGP release from Capcom on the PS2, the full rights to make games based on the sport have now become solely that of the publisher, meaning that if you see a new MotoGP title on the shelf from now on, it can only be Capcom’s and can’t be confused with another publishers version, as quite simply, if THQ (or anyone else for that matter) were to release another MotoGP game within the next five years they‘d receive a lot more than a slap on the wrist.

Like Capcom’s first release, MotoGP 08 attempts to make the game available to all skill levels. A optional tutorial race instantly welcomes you to the game and, developer, Milestone have actually went out of their way to attempt to explain the reasons for your failings if you make mistakes whilst participating in this opening race. The game will even recommend which handling model (all of which can be tested in this very mode) you should opt for based on your performance, which is a nice idea. It’s certainly a gentle way to ease you into the game, although the tips aren’t always that helpful and feel a little half hearted, particularly for those seeking the much harsher simulation play (at least there’s tips on the loading screens). It’s still a nice and adequate try, though.

There’s a total of three handling models, which means if you are dedicated enough, you can punish yourself with the simulation style. If you’ve got less time on your hands, or just prefer an easy ride without having to really get to grips with your machine, and don‘t want to keep falling off every time you lean into a corner (at least to begin with), you can either play Super Hang On or Road Rash, but if you want to stick with MotoGP 08, there’s an arcade handling style included, especially for you. Finally, an advanced style combines arcade and simulation, giving birth to something in between the two. Milestone have certainly succeeded with their intentions of making things as cruel or as kind as you want them, so if you’re not very good with the brutal simulation and are really honest with yourself, you can drop down to any of the other styles, turn your fortunes around, and make yourself feel like a winner, or at least something better than a loser (with four AI settings you can make it as easy or as challenging as you desire, so winning and losing are both very much possible).

Remaining on the subject of winners, it certainly would be more satisfying to be playing as yourself when being crowned the MotoGP champion as opposed to a real life professional (if you seek complete authenticity play the championship mode), career mode allows you to do this. You put your name in, sign up with a team (you begin in the 125cc class, followed by 250cc and MotoGP classes), choose a helmet and number, and then show the world what a rookie can do over a five season career. You’ll get the opportunity to move to other teams, and you’ll also earn upgrade points which can be distributed to different areas of your bike, whilst, in a nice touch, a levelled up speed machine can also be taken online.

There’s also a challenge mode which presents different tasks to you. One challenge may have you racing between checkpoints to add some time to the clock for example, whilst another only allows you to brake a limited amount of times, you may be instructed to keep close to the optimal racing line, and finally you could be given the opportunity to attempt to right the wrongs in a scenario that seems like it’s going to have nothing other than a bleak outcome, if you don’t start doing something quickly. To complete the entire 50 is quite a mammoth task, but doing so may very well make you feel as if you have won the MotoGP championship, even though you haven’t.

There’s also an online mode for up to 12 players, which can thankfully be played with the different handling styles, although whilst it can get a little laggy at times it rarely becomes so bad, that it’s unplayable. Those hoping for split screen races will be disappointed, offline multiplayer has once again been forgotten about, and you would think that the original multiplayer has done something criminally wrong in the way that it has been cruelly abolished from many games.

Graphically the game is a mixed bag with solid bike and rider models and a great sensation of speed (particularly with the MotoGP bikes), although the tracks (Indianapolis and night racing at Qatar are in there this year) fair worse, the crowds appear to be nothing more than unanimated cardboard cut-outs, and the lack of tyre smoke is unbelievable, is it really possible to forget to include such a thing? Maybe it is, or perhaps, it’s one of the headline stealing features in the pipeline for next year.

MotoGP 08 is a fast and fun racing game and one that nicely strikes the balance between different player skills, something which it should be very much commended for. It isn’t going to please everyone though, as the very shallow customisation and bike setup options won’t sit well with some, whilst mechanical faults and tyre wear are both absent. Sending your bike into spectacular rolls time and time again and setting the number of laps to reflect the real life thing, makes this lack of wear and tear all the more obvious.

Note to Capcom and Milestone: The above would make better headline stealing features for next years game than tyre smoke would, although tyre smoke would still be a nice addition. But, regardless of the current lack of these things, you did do plenty of good this year.

Well done.