Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: July 4, 2002
While I wouldn’t be so brash as to assume that anyone’s spent time mapping my career here at Avault, had anyone bothered to chart the reviews I’ve written, one alarming statistic would certainly jump out: I’ve slammed virtually every motorbike racing game placed before me. Some might think I have a hate on for the genre, but the simple truth is that playing these titles has been the digital equivalent of a kick in the crotch. Bruised, battered and walking slightly funny from the abuse, was it any wonder that I winced when THQ’s Moto GP arrived on my doorstep? Still, as a dedicated reviewer who never learns his lesson, I rationalized that this one might be different; after all, we’d come several generations in hardware since I first lost my racing innocence to such unforgettables as McGrath vs. Pastrana, and Rallisport Challenge had already proved that the Xbox could hold its own as a racing platform. Hours of play later the ballots have been counted, and I’m stepping up to the podium to deliver the final verdict for Moto GP.
Before we storm straight to the Overall score, some discussion of the gameplay might set the stage more effectively. Moto GP allows you to race high end motorcycles on closed tracks that represent some of the world’s most famous curves. You’ll be given the chance to take on the mantle of 29 different world class riders, or create a custom avatar to represent you on the field. In addition to the standard quick race mode, you’ll find that this title straddles the realms by providing an arcade experience where you earn points for both your racing and some low-level trick riding, and then settling down to a longer, more involved career that requires considerably more dedication to master.
Regardless of which direction you intend to go, or which riders you recruit in your quest for the gold, Moto GP will apply some key variables to every game you play. Holding true to the belief that the man is as much a part of the race as the machine (and perhaps more so), your driver’s skills largely determine your performance on the line. Rating acceleration, cornering, braking and top speed, Moto GP allows you to begin your career with ten experience points to allot among these four stats, allowing you to either enhance your natural tendencies or to simply make up for weaknesses in your driving style.
No matter how you assign these points, you’ll soon long for more. Luckily, the career mode offers you the chance to do just that by placing high in the standings as you move through the ten licensed tracks included in the game. Should you find yourself constantly at the AI’s mercy, though, there’s always the training sessions waiting to help you hone your abilities.
Training sessions consist of five activities, each one falling under and enhancing your skills in the four rider statistics. In cornering, for instance, you’ll need to run slaloms, balance your bike around tricky turns, and navigate obstacle courses within time limits. Similarly, braking exercises range from precision skills that invite you to stop on a dime to more practical speed control lessons in cornering within time limits.