Gaming has taken a leap forward for the Xbox and all the major consoles such as Gamecube and Playstation are all gunning for the online arena. With the Xbox Live! Beta program, people were given an online demo of Moto GP with three tracks and limited riders. Even the demo showed us the power of Xbox Live! and the Xbox itself.
To gain access to all the riders and tracks, you need to have the retail version of this game. The online demo detects your Hard Drive save of the retail game and knows from this what riders and courses you have unlocked by going through the Arcade and Grand Prix modes. In this review I am going to cover both the online and single player experience.
To look at, MotoGP has all the lovely graphics you would expect from the Xbox such as bump mapping on the track, a glaring sunlight peeping through the clouds and best of all the amazingly visual experience of rain. Now when people play racing games the first thing they do is disable rain, but in this game you have to at least try it once. The reflections on the track, the mist from the biker in front as his wheels tear through the water laying to rest on the track and when watching replays the rain hitting the visor and rolling upwards as the wind hits it. Truly a masterpiece of visual detail.
Textures are all nicely detailed with skid marks appearing on the track as you bomb around the course. Skid marks remain from AI bikes, Xbox Live! opponents and your own bike which gives away where people have generally been going wrong when on a corner you look and see someone who has accelerated fully into the barrier.. ouch…
Grand Prix is the route to unlock the courses and Quick Race to just get straight into the action with little fuss. The single player game by itself is a racing game delight from start to finish. The rewards of completing various modes to unlock tracks and bikes and the overall struggle to create your own custom bike makes this game a highly addictive affair to say the least. Then comes Xbox Live! online play added to this and you have got a game that will last forever, well until we get a sequel maybe.
After playing other Xbox Live! games, this has some of the best features and design for use then most of the others. The lobby, a place to meet and chat before entering a race is well designed and very functional to use. In other games such as Mechassault everybody despairs at the fact you don’t know who is talking and navigation is rather confusing. Moto GP is the standard that all games should follow in the future for Live! functionality. With Moto GP coming out before Mechassault we in the beta test have all been spoilt with the ease of use and features built into the game. It’s nice to have a race, be sent back to the same lobby and ask the host to change the track etc, a simple feature you might say, but games like Mechassault mean you have to find the same server again if you want to go against the same people. This is because after each game you are booted out and have to start again. Very frustrating but thankfully the wisdom involved in creating the online experience for MotoGP haven’t made this fatal mistake.
The AI bikes on MotoGP are fairly intelligent but can become very predictable on corners. This is where the excitement of the online version becomes apparent. When playing against opponents from America, Canada, France, Germany and the UK, you can enjoy people who make many mistakes and are likely to whip you off the bike at the very first corner. The Intermediate players who have limited knowledge of each track and have unlocked some of the faster bikes in the game and of course not forgetting the hardcore custom bike, know every track racer. There is competition for everyone here and with the Opti-match feature you can find people around your skill level and race them until you get better.
A lot of people on racing games also enjoy racing friends to see who can get the fastest lap. With online play in this game you can now see your lap times compared to everybody who has the online demo. View your friends scores and overall scores to see how one second can mean the difference between 1st and 100th place.
The controls for racing are set at ‘A’ for accelerate, ‘left trigger’ for back brake and ‘right trigger’ for front brake. Having ‘A’ as accelerate is a nice idea as you can really hurt your hand pulling down on the trigger all the time. If this is not to your liking though you can easily change this in the controller options.
The single player experience on it’s own is a masterpiece of excitement and detail, with the addition of online capability the game is catapulted into stardom and deserves major recognition for it’s early achievement. If this is what Xbox Live! is all about, Xbox users can rejoice.