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MotoGP 08; a step to realism?

Submitted by on Sunday, 7 December 20087 Comments

During 2007 Capcom announced that they now have the right to publish games based on the MotoGP franchise. At first, that decision seemed risky, since until then Namco used to develop MotoGP games.

The first footage of the game got us excited, with head of communications of Capcom Europe Ben Le Rougetel, promising us that the game would be able to be played by both amateur and experienced players. The system they were developing would be available to “read” the player’s reactions and decide the difficulty level he/she should be playing on.

Just a few months before the release of the game, an optimistic hype had been created around Capcom’s attempt to give us a “re-innovated” MotoGP experience.

Two months ago, the game hit the stores and gave gamers the opportunity to finally see for themselves what Capcom had managed to create.

Has Capcom’s take on the MotoGP franchise proved to be another mediocre bike simulator or a hidden gem?

The first time you insert the Blu-ray disc into your PS3, the game will ask you to play a Tutorial Mode in order to decide what difficulty setting fits you best.

After that, you get transferred to the game’s main menu. Here, you can choose between many gaming options. The first is Career Mode, which is also the main feature. Other modes include Quick Race, Time Attack – for the record “whores” -, Championship, Challenges and Multiplayer.

Career Mode lets you start as a rookie making his first steps in the profession. As a result, you are only able to race with 125cc bikes. In order to earn a place in the 600cc Class Championship, you’ll have to make your way through 125cc, 250cc and finally reach the 600cc MotoGP Class.

Multiplayer lets you race with up to 11 other players online. From our experience, lag was not an issue and the number of online players was surprisingly high.

The Challenges mode is a great way to showcase your riding skills. There are 50 challenges to choose from; other tricky, other lame.

As far as the personalization is concerned, MotoGP 08 does a great job. In Career Mode, you are able to create a driver. Here, you can fulfil your ego by entering your name and country of origin; yes, I’m talking to you, MotoGP driver wannabe!

The MotoGP Championship starts with the Qatar race. A cool feature is the ability to get a preview of the track before every race. It is also a nice way to cover the not too long loading times. If you choose to skip the preview though, you’ll get a nice loading screen with tips and hints.

In the technical sector, MotoGP 08 manages to partially impress. Although the menus are nicely designed, the in-game graphics could be better. The drivers and bikes are heavily detailed, but the environments aren’t. There are times you think you’re playing Tourist Trophy; especially when you’re using the cockpit camera.

Having 35 bikes on screen with no frame rates dropping isn’t an easy task, but the guys at Milestone did a great job in this area. No matter how many bikes are next to you, you’ll never notice a frame drop. Maybe that’s the reason they decided to make the stages plain and rather dull. Except from the impressing weather effects and sky detail, the tracks lack in detail and variety. Speaking of sky, this is the first MotoGP game to feature night races. This years Qatar race took place at night and as a result, the developers implemented it in the game.

As we all know, graphics don’t make a game. It is the gameplay that dooms or – in this case – saves a game. MotoGP 08 has four difficulty levels; Easy, Medium, Hard and Champion. This decides the competition’s AI and driving skills.

The Riding Model let’s you decide between Arcade, Advanced and Simulation mode. According to which one you choose, the way your bike handles will be affected. Arcade mode defies every law of gravity and physics by letting you take a turn with neck breaking speed or use the other drivers for “cushion” while braking. In other words, it makes the game feel like a good old arcade racer.

Advanced mode features a more balanced and close to reality driving scheme. If you manage to make a turn with the fourth gear begging to get changed, you’ll probably end up in the grass. The same goes for the impacts. A careless “chic to chic” with another bike is able to make your driver go all “ragdoll” on you.

Advanced mode is a hate or love mode; obviously, the haters will be greater in number. While it tries to be realistic, something just doesn’t seem right. The game mechanics just can’t give you that Tourist Trophy feel, since the arcade odour is still noticeable in the air. The developers must have noticed that smell too. That’s why they decided to make the Advanced mode not realistic, but difficult as hell. Every turn and other racer is a threat. It is far too annoying to lead a race for God knows how many laps and then BANG; another driver crashes right on your bike’s tail, sending you flying off your bike. I’m sorry gentlemen, but that’s not realism; it is just failure to create realism.

But, where do we conclude? Is MotoGP 08 a failed experiment or just an arcade racer that tries to be realistic?

Well, it depends on the player’s needs. If you are looking for an arcade racer, give it a chance; choose the Arcade Riding Model and have fun. If you’re looking for a hardcore realistic racing simulator, MotoGP 08 isn’t your game. It tries hard to be one, but does not succeed.