Review of Moto GP
In an obvious attempt to break away from a pure arcade racing encounter, Namco has taken their System 12 arcade racer, tweaked it up a bit, added a simulation option and released Moto GP onto the PS2 hungry masses.
Getting into the game, players will need to identify their driver (put in your name), pick a country, team and helmet design. Now you can choose to enter into a Championship Race (Season Mode), Arcade racing, Time Trials or VS (two-player) Mode.
First up, I would suggest getting a feel for things in the Arcade mode and setting the simulation option to off. When set on Easy, lane markers are in effect and will help riders to better identify lines that they should take on the courses in order to better negotiate the many turns that you will be faced with. You can also become familiar with all of the various customizations that you can perform on your bike to tweak it to your liking.
Moto GP is all about proper braking and accelerating at the right moments, thinking ahead and positioning your bike to handle the curves that lie in front of you. Simply blowing through turns is likely to get you pushed out to the dirt outskirts or worst yet, plowing into another biker. The trick is to properly ease (brake) into a tight turn and then accelerate out.
Once you get this down, you will find yourself ready to move up in difficulty and onto the Season mode. Here you will pick your team and be faced with having to finish in a certain overall position at the end of the first year in order to be picked up by that team for another season. Fail to do this and you are out there shopping for a new sponsor.
While racing over the five provided courses you will notice that there are a large number of hairpin turns. Unlike most racers where you can merely hammer your way over the dirt and grass at full throttle and gain five or six positions in the race, doing that in Moto GP will get you some serious time penalties. As an example, cutting across the hairpin on the Suzuka Circuit will net you a tidy 10 second penalty…essentially ending your aspirations of finishing the race in first place.
As you worm your way to the top in the standings you will unlock little trinkets in the Challenge Mode such as pictures of the developers playing the game, pictures of the various circuits and the riders.
On the down side, there are only five circuits to compete on. Many gamers may find themselves getting bored with having to race the same five tracks season after season. Its really too bad there was not a track editor thrown in here, that would have been awesome. Also, since this game takes full advantage of the analog buttons on the new Dualshock2 controller, you may find yourself getting blisters pressing on the brakes or gas to get the maximum mileage out of them. I found I really had to almost stand on the brake button to get the best stopping power…ouch! They gotta get this whole analog button thing down a bit better in my opinion.
What the game does do right though is deliver a blisteringly fast two-wheel racing experience that is sure to delight driving freaks out there looking for their latest speed fix.
As for the graphics, I could just make things easy on myself and say that Moto GP is essentially just Ridge Racer 5 on two-wheels as far as appearance goes…but that would be unfair…to either game as there are very subtle differences between the two.
While RR5 deploys the fantasy streets of Ridge City, Moto GP opts instead for real sanctioned racing circuits from around the globe. While they are modeled wonderfully and presented in glorious Hi-Res, Moto GP appears to have eliminated the anti-aliasing and shimmering (for the most part) that hounds RR5. There is also some nice little background effects going on in the some of the courses that feature some neat smoke effects. While I didnt think the backgrounds in Moto GP were as detailed as those in Ridge City, they are pretty spectacular non-the-less. Oh, the game also locks in at a rock solid 60fps…sweet!
The models used for the motorcycles are absolutely beautiful, and the characters models are animated very nicely. Hell, just wait until the first time you begin to overtake a rider and he turns his head back to track your approach…marvelous. Even the wipeouts are pretty cool, but are unfortunately the most unrealistic looking aspect of the game…oh well.
Also outstanding are the replays. Utilizing shifting camera views, heat waves off the tracks and various panning techniques you will swear that you are watching a real motorcycle race. The rendering is damn near photorealistic.
The sound effects and music portion of the game is perhaps its weakest area. The background music is immediately forgettable and I just decided to relegate it to a distant background drone in the game settings.
The sounds of the two-stroke motorcycles are surely right on the money though, but how much droning bike sounds can one stand. There isnt really too much else to hear except for the squealing of tires, the scrunch of metal on metal in a collision and the suffering oomph from your rider as he wipes out.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Moto GP' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
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