Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Moto GP 07

Developer: Climax Studios
Publisher: THQ
Release Date: August 2007
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS2, Windows
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: Stop and go bike racing.

0:01 A very nice stylized intro. Looks kind of rotoscoped. The colors... the colors!

0:02 Going through the control options., I notice there's a separate button for front and rear brakes. I'm afraid this is gonna be a little too realistic.

0:03 I like the quick race option. Two button clicks and you're racing. The loading screen outlines a bunch of things to try for, like a "clean lap" and a target speed. Looks like a lot to do.

0:05 It only took three turns for me to spin out and go flying off the bike. The launch looks incredibly painful. I've gotta ease up on that accelerator.

0:06 The sense of speed is pretty impressive. No matter how many opponents are on the field everything flies by incredibly smoothly. The graphics and nice and shiny.

0:07 Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't someone go flying when two bikes collide at 270 km/h? Apparently not... they just kind of bounce.

0:09 Those wipeouts are brutally beautiful carnage, which is good, because I've been watching them over and over again over the past few turns. Riding the momentum on the turns is taking some getting used to.

0:10 Yowch. This time when I bump into another bike at high speeds I go end over end.

0:13 Despite an awful start, I pick it up on the second half of the final lap and end up in third place. Slamming on both shoulder triggers to brake takes some getting used to, but once I get used to the slamming the turns get much easier.

0:14 Hmm, seems the difficulty was set to "rookie." No wonder I did so well despite being so awful.

0:15 On to championship mode. I can choose from a bunch of people I've never heard of with faces I can't see behind helmets. I guess I'll pick an American. U-S-A! U-S-A!

0:16 Wouldja look at all those bike tuning options. The game thankfully explains the differences between soft and hard tires, gear ratios, suspension hardness, etc. I could get lost in here for a while. But not right now.

0:20 Four minutes in to the ten minutes of qualifying race and I'm totally alone on the track. Thankfully I can skip out and just start in the back of the pack.

0:23 So the moral of this game so far, for me at least, seems to be that on a motorcycle, no amount of braking is enough. You might think you're safely through the turn, but as soon as you accelerate you straighten out and OH MY GOD THE GRASS! In other words, brake early, brake often.

0:26 Ouch. I'm about to complete my first clean lap, but I spin out on the last turn because I let go of the brakes too early.

0:29 I finish with a large first place lead. My focus on extreme extra braking seems to be working... now that I'm not spinning out on most of the turns I'm alone for most of the race. Odd: There's an on-screen penalty counter for going off road, but it doesn't seem to be taken into account in my final position.

0:30 The course look almost photo-realistic when from above during loading screen. Wait... maybe it is a photo. Hmmmmm...

0:31 The awkward animation of the pit crews standing around look considerably less than photorealistic. Really, they should have just skipped this altogether.

0:32 Ugh... my back tire barely nicks the grass during a sharp turn and I come tumbling down. That's life in the big city.

0:33 Ouch, I get RUN OVER by another rider after another spill. Seconds later, I'm back up again, good as new. So much for realism.

0:36 The roads are a lot narrower on this second course. My previous levels of braking are insufficient, I need EVEN MORE BRAKING.

0:38 Apparently, crashing into the guy in first place is an excellent way to pass him. I get on my bike well before he does and take the lead, but I end up finishing in third. Still first in the overall championship standings, though.

0:41 I just took a turn without braking. I think this is a first. It was a shallow turn, but still. I started on the outside and worked in. I'm pretty sure this is what you're supposed to do, but extreme braking has been working just fine on rookie mode.

0:42 I don't know if there's a point to the easy-to-pull-off wheelies, but they're tons of fun. Especially when you pull back so much that your tail hits pavement and you go flying. Wheee!

0:44 I lose my focus for a lap and fall back to sixth, but refocus on a series of S curves and jump back to first. Time for a celebratory wheelie!

0:45 I try a lap in first-person view. The sense of speed here is sick. No... I mean it, I'm actually sick from all the leaning. Something about the ground getting practically vertical sets off my queasiness.

0:47 I actually get used to the first-person mode and finish in first.

0:48 I have 15 races left to complete a season. FIFTEEN! For that I will get 10 achievement points... IF I finish in first. Whoo?

0:50 I'm getting really tired of the repetitive, guitar-heavy rock background music. Thankfully I can't really hear it over the persistent engine whine.

0:51 I hit 314km/h on the straightaway. I'm so busy watching the speedometer that I don't notice the dirt coming up fast. Ooof.

0:52 Enough of this basic racing stuff... where's the other modes? Let's see, there's a career mode that lets me design my character's look and apply points to abilities like acceleration and braking. TEN POINTS TO BRAKING PLEASE! I can make bike logos and such too. Neat.

0:54 In quick race you can choose between Grand Prix and Extreme classes. EXTREME! What is this, the early '90s? I try out an Extreme race on the pro difficulty just for giggles.

0:55 Holy crap, I thought the other bikes were fast, but this extreme class bike goes from zero to face-melting in like two seconds. Oh, and my first spin out puts me back into 16th place (out of 16)

0:58 OK, I'm like five hours behind the pack now. Guess I'm not quite ready for the big time.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? While the actual racing is kind of repetitive and clinical, there's enough variety in the tracks and options to keep race fan like me busy.

This review based on a retail copy rented from GameFly.

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