To begin with, we should probably admit that, before playing Milestone’s latest MXGP game, we had very little knowledge of the sport, or even of off-road racing in general. However, thankfully you don’t need to understand the ins and outs of motocross sports to be able to enjoy games based on them; a bit like how you don’t need to know everything there is to know about football to enjoy FIFA.
Fortunately, we’re fairly experienced with racing games, and even if we weren’t, the optional tutorial videos presented to you after booting the game can help you find your feet. This is definitely a good thing, because MXGP feels quite different to other racers, due to the fact that you control the bike and rider separately by using the analog sticks.
One of the first things we noticed in MXGP was that the use of live-action videos before events successfully drew us into the atmosphere. Many people who play the game probably won’t have witnessed a motocross race in real life, so it’s great that it puts so much effort into creating an effective setting.
Our first race went badly. But as we got used to the unique control system, we got much more comfortable with and accustomed to it, as using both analog sticks allowed us to take harder turns in order to overtake the opposition. Other than that, the racing is a pretty standard affair, although it does take more getting used to than your average racer, especially as the off-road terrain means you can’t just drift your way to glory.
However, if you’re really struggling then there are several modifiers you can use to help you, such as changing the AI difficulty or turning assists on to adjust the physics, weight, gear changes and more. Of course, if you fancy a challenge, you can always turn everything off.
It’s not all about the racing, though. You’re able to customise both your racer and bike, the latter of which you can do before each race, to ensure that you’re using the best bike possible for each individual race; whether it’s part of a Grand Prix or Championship, or of course the Career and multiplayer modes.
And outside of racing entirely, you’re able to check social feeds and emails in your office room, allowing you to see what others are saying about you, and to see tips and objectives from your team.
Sadly, we can’t boast about the graphics quite as much as the gameplay. Whilst they’re far from bad, they do seem rather unpolished, rough and suffer from the occasional framerate dip. The detail primarily went into the bikes, with the riders, crowds and environments getting the short end of the graphical stick.
The animations are done nicely, with the racer moving realistically and their clothes fluttering in the breeze, and the bike moves as you’d expect it to. Sadly, the animations fall apart slightly whenever you fall off your bike, as you’ll usually hit the floor solidly, with no ragdoll physics present.
The dirt effects when racing are nice though, with mud flickering everywhere and grass getting torn up under your wheels. There’s also a photo mode which allows you to take some truly spectacular shots (or awful ones if you race like us).
Fortunately, the audio certainly fits the bill. The music may not stand out, but the revving of the bikes is realistic and captures the intense action of the races, where you’re constantly soaring through the air and jostling with other racers.
The commentators do a fine job too, along with the bodiless voice who talks you clearly and simply through everything you need to know about the game. While this might feel like hand-holding to some, we personally found it to be a great help, especially considering we’re not particularly accustomed to MXGP or other off-road racing games.
Due to the multitude of modes, multiplayer, and some tough trophies, there’s plenty of lasting appeal and more than enough reason to revisit the game once you’ve finished Career mode.
If you don’t follow MXGP or have little interest in off-road racing games, then you might not find a lot to enjoy here. However, if you’re passionate about either, then this game will most likely fulfil your needs.