Speed up and catch MotoGP ’07!
Ok, I’ll begin this review with a tiny concession: I have never played MotoGP before. Now I know it’s terrible, since I consider vehicular-based games one of my specialties. Whenever I thought about playing one of the various incarnations of MotoGP, there was always a brand new Forza, Burnout, or Gran Turismo just waiting to stop me. But with this year’s MotoGP being the last by developer Climax Studios, I figured it was now or never.
As is general standard practice when I play something I am previously unfamiliar with, the first mode I explored was the training mode. And while I was expecting a few tips and tricks about how to handle my bike, I was caught completely off-guard by how little information I was given and how challenging the gameplay really was. Unfortunately, the training mode leaves you completely unprepared for the actual gameplay. And don’t even think about starting up online modes.
But aside from my frustration at the small amount of information that was passed my way during the training mode, I still soldiered forth and tried my best to play through the racing career mode. When you first start it up, you go through a rider customization screen. At first it doesn’t look like there’s too much there to customize, but if you fully explore all of your sub-menu options, there’s more here than you’d expect. Everything from suit type, color, and graphics are customizable, so you can really make your rider your own! Once I was done outfitting my character in a jazzy black number with bright red skull insignias on either side, I was ready to hit the first track. The first thing I noticed right off the bat was how great all the visuals were. The track looked absolutely impeccable with realistic texturing and colorful surroundings. The bikes were absolutely stunning and you could see all the little details that have become the hallmark of vehicular games on next-gen consoles. The only real issue I had with the visuals was that the people in the game (primarily in the opening sequence) looked stoic and didn’t really look up to par. But since you rarely have any contact with the generic people outside of opening scenes, I don’t give the game any real flack for this. I mean, it’s all about the bikes, right?
But after I finished marveling at the visual beauty of the game, I tried my hardest to get my head into the race. My goal? Finish the race with a decent place. Hours it took to reach? Too many to count. But aside from my hapless state of incompetence, the racing career mode is pretty fun with some pretty useful features. One such feature that is really helpful to new racers and veterans alike is the telemetry function (accessible through the pause screen menu). What this mode essentially does is analyze your performance on a given track. It identifies spots where you wipe out, go too slow, go off track, and areas which you clear just fine. So, even if you think you’ve got a course down, you can check out your race telemetry to see if there are any areas in a particular course you could perform better on. Once you clear a course in racing career (with your best time and standing) you can move on to the next course, and play through a regular season with the goal of coming out on top. Now let’s say you’re really good at MotoGP and need a real challenge. Once you play through a regular season on grand-prix mode, you can unlock extreme mode. And though it sounds daunting, there are several perks to playing in extreme mode. You’ll get cash for playing in this mode, which leads to a means to purchase special parts for our bike. And if you get really good, you can buy a new bike altogether.
So once you’ve bought an incredibly supped-up ride and customized it to the max, where do you go from there? Online, of course! One of the most talked-about new features in MotoGP 07 is pink slip racing. Pink slip racing is a simple concept, but it has some pretty extreme consequences. You win, and you get to keep your opponent’s bike. But if you lose, you can say goodbye to that supped-up ride. So before you even attempt pink slip racing, I would suggest practicing just a little bit more. And if you still want to play online without the threat of the possibility of losing your bike, there are also online tournament modes that are separated by skill level and bike style that you can participate in.
One area I was somewhat disappointed in was the sound department. When playing any type of racing game, I feel that a fast-paced and energetic soundtrack is a necessary component to the game. However, I was decidedly disappointed by the musical offering presented in MotoGP 07, and felt like the tune offering was way too generic and didn’t match the high-energy nature of the game. One area, however, where the sound department does get it right is with the ambient noise and the bike sounds. These sound very good, and are quite realistic. I just wish that there was more substance behind the music offering to compliment the game experience.
Overall, MotoGP 07 is a pretty awesome game. It definitely takes a little while to learn the game if you’re a complete newbie. But once you pick it up and learn everything, it’s a very engrossing experience. And once you start getting really good, there’s many ways to play that will provide a deep and engrossing experience for newbies and veterans alike.