Milestone is really starting to develop some good motorsport titles. WRC 4 was a vast improvement on their previous attempts, and now motocross fans can rejoice – we finally get a great dirt-bike game. MUD was a joke compared to MXGP when it comes to the physics, so the gimmicks were ditched for authentic motorcross racing in MXGP. The end result is quite pleasing.
Distributor: Apex Interactive
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: PS3, PS Vita, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 7.9/10
What I loved
- Top notch physics
- Riders and bikes look amazing
Not so much
- Everything off-track completely static
- Commentary and in-game music would be nice
It’s been a heck of a long time since I’ve enjoyed a proper dirt-bike game. The arcade examples of dirt-bike titles released over the years have simply not warranted my attention as a sim fan. MXGP changes this, and quite impressively too. Milestone, basically, got the physics right for this one. So MXGP should please motorcross fans, while not completely alienating arcade racing fans. You can water-down the settings to make MXGP a little more welcoming, although I personally found it a little on the boring side when I did so.
I’ve played all the Milestone-developed games over the past few years, and I’ve seen the studio deliver ever more worthy titles over the years. A few years back, their titles were promising, but completely unpolished, and overhaul lacking in various departments. With MXGP there are still a few quirks that I have seen with previous games – things like anything off-track code is underdeveloped – but the important bits, the physics, are bang on here.
So for example, everything that happens on the track is realistic-looking and feeling, but it goes pear-shaped once you veer off the track. The barriers for example, in reality there’s those heavy but cushioning moveable blocks. In MXGP they’re like hitting a wall. Everything off the track is static, which is a bit of a disappointment. I actually can’t stand that when you go off the track here. If you go hat little bit too far out, the game just re-sets you back to the track. This feels too random and takes away from the sim’ness of it all for me. The other lesser impressive point for me was how lonely the game feels. What I mean is, once you’ve been through the tutorial bit of the game, it’s the last time you’ll hear a human voice in the game. There’s no in or out-of-race commentary or anything really. No music in the races either, so it can become monotonous quickly, on those nights when you’re not quite amped to play. With MXGP it all about the racing, and only about the racing. A little more “icing sugar” would’ve been nice. Fortunately, it’s only these few aspects that deter from MXGP for me.
MXGP lets you tweak a range of settings to be as forgiving as you like. The physics can be turned down to very forgiving. I have no experience in actual motorcross, but I turned everything on to around the “medium difficulty.” I am a simulator fan and this felt, to me at least, like a simulator offering. I do feel the bikes are a little too manoeuvrable in the air, but I’m not actually sure what the real thing feels like. To explain how it felt, I couldn’t just land off a big jump in any way I wanted. Land awkwardly and you’ll likely be punished. I had to brake and lean properly, and hitting jumps in the optimum way was beneficial.
The trump card here for me with the physics is that you use both thumb-sticks to lean. The left thumb-stick controls the bike’s direction, and therefore the bike’s weight when you lean. Then, interestingly, the right thumb-stick lets you lean the rider. You don’t need to lean the rider on every corner, though it really helps and feels realistic in the heavy corners. You can tweak the settings even more to the hardcore level too by choosing to use both front and back breaks. I couldn’t manage this admittedly though, so I chose the combined brake setting. Fortunately while I chose the medium settings for the physics and bike aspects, I could still set the AI to difficult. So basically when I raced poorly, or fell too often in the race, I wouldn’t win. I do love though, that I could set the physics to less than “hardcore” while making the racing difficult.
Game Modes include the worthy Career Mode, although it could still use some sprucing up. Then you can also choose random races and riders or select events in an offline mode. And the online mode has you compete in up to 12 rider races. The format of the career is familiar to Milestone games, and quite pleasant. In the career you begin in the lesser teams in MX2 category. You choose a rider to compete against, as in if you regularly beat him, you get offered their spot on whichever team. The only thing that’s a bit of a let down is that progressing to the bigger and better teams is a little too quick of a process. Every three or so races, I was able to move on to a better team and bike. You don’t have to, but since I can’t deal with temptation, the sweeter ride always attracted me, until I landed a spot on the MX1 Red Bull KTM team. I would have liked if the carrot was dangled in my face as often.
MXGP is completely authentic and licensed. So all the major teams and bikes are available, with every last authentic sponsor decal. The riders, the decals and bikes look fantastic! A stark contrast to the visuals off the track. There’s the Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda, KTM and some Italians brand bikes I don’t recognise. The bikes don’t feel dramatically different, but enough to feel different from each other. Admittedly I wouldn’t know how different the different brands feel in reality anyway. There’s the Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar sponsors and all the major brands of equipment.
The tracks and their surfaces also add to the sceptical, something I thought was truly lacking in Milestone’s previous MotoX game – MUD. The different surfaces, from loosely to the tighter packed gravel. There’s “drier” or muddier tracks, so every new round in the race calendar was a new experience, often offering very different traction.
With MXGP Milestone again prove that they understand the physics’ side of things when it comes to racing. MXGP delivers remarkably well in this department and the end result is pleasing and enjoyable racing in what felt to me like what the real thing must feel like. The racing is an absolute blast!
I just hope now Milestone can work on the bells and whistles with the next titles. The studio has got the important parts down, but a little more niceties would be welcome.
Read about our ratings here.
You can buy the game from our affiliate here.