Motocross comes to the Xbox One thanks to Milestone who seem to be building a great reputation for racing titles, but will MXGP2 race to the front of the pack, or get stuck in the mud.
Over the years Motor-Cross has been a pretty regular genre for video games, offering the speed and excitement that most racing games achieve, while also giving a further challenge with various jumps, bobble’s and a flurry of riders racing for first place.
I’ve played many over the last few decades, but only one or two really seemed to hit the mark, while moving towards the arcade ede with tricks has been a popular move, Milestone have decided to knuckle down and capture the true essence of the official MotoCross license.
The official License pays dividends as you’ll find the full roster from the 2015 championship as well as 18 official tracks, the complete roster of MXGP and MX2 as well as a wealth of official bikes and gear.
Progressing through the main menu it’s straight away evident that content certainly won’t be an issue, with the MX of Nations, Stadium series and events there’s plenty to do beyond a basic MXGP championship or the career mode, every race you complete (even time trials and online races) reward you with credits, and these can go towards upgrading your bike collection and rider outfitting, Most will head straight for the KTM or an equivalent beat of a bike, which leaves the cosmetic only gear as the main call for your spending, however the prize money is barely worth noting compared to the feeling of success alone.
Regardless of the game mode it’s great to run a perfect lap but non more-so than in the depths of career mode or a full championship, You can select whether to attend the practice session, challenge the qualifying to have a better choice for starting position and then take part in race 1 and 2.
Due to the more realistic nature of Milestone’s games, you won’t be flying superman over the finishing line, but you will be racing every track till the end and trying to judge every single bump and corner.
While that all sounds very positive it also outlines a few negatives, firstly corners become a conundrum, with every single corner you take it’s not just a case of holding a direction as you ease round, there’s the challenge of choosing how much to brake, whether to use the clutch to try and get a clean shot out of the bend and if it’s worth risking using the front brake to whip around the sharper twists as you try to undertake nearby riders,
This unfortunately doesn’t change throughout the race, and as you get used to the corners, the only factor becomes the positioning of your opponents. With today’s technology I would have loved to see the track getting ate up by the bikes causing more treacherous risky options and safer defined options, often you’ll have a small bank you can use to navigate round certain bends, but others offer little resistance causing you to go veering off the track which results in the unforgiving system resetting you onto the track rather than giving you a few seconds to re-enter without losing too much speed.
Maybe the reason corners seem to pre-defined is down to how little the bikes seem to grip into the mud, you won’t see buckets of mud kicked up off your tires, and apart from the hills and jumps it does verge much closer to the Flat-Track racing in Valentino Rossi the Game rather than true MotoCross.
It’s not all bad though, with the impressive list of locations, there’s still plenty of variety and more than enough to keep you guessing, while later championships might not prove as challenging, first time round you’ll still want to throw a few laps into the practice session if your planning on battling for first place.
Within Career mode, there’s also plenty of depth outside of the bends and cornering, off the track you can create your custom character and work you way up gaining popularity as you make a push for the MXGP championship you’ll want to make sure you’re impressing both the sponsors and competing teams.
The Career certainly stands out amongst all other single player modes, but as with any race, the problem of making a mistake can haunt you. Often enemy riders will seemingly appear out of nowhere and while they seem to keep your balance you’ll often end up in the dirt, thankfully you don’t lose a lot of time, but it’s annoying when your perfect lap is ruined through no fault of your own
Online gives you some depth by allowing a full championship and you can even stretch that over full 20 lap 2-race GP’s spread over all 18 tracks which will give you and your friends over 700 laps.
Racing against random players isn’t quite as fun, but put the A.I on easy, and invite a few friends and there’s hours of fun ahead of you, unfortunately there’s no save option for the online lobbies, so you won’t be able to carry on from where you left off last time, but it’s still a pleasant surprise to see so many options available for online racers.
It’s well worth turning off collisions though, while funny the first time, you’ll inevitably get one guy being knocked over every 20 seconds and we don’t want any dummies being thrown out of the pram.
Racing through any mode has it’s fair share of up’s and downs, every aspect of the game seems to have a negative to combat the many positives, Music is fitting but repetitive, cornering is tough to master but a little too easy when you do, and enemy riders are challenging in numbers but dumb when it comes to taking a safe racing line round a corner, even the multitude of jumps you’ll come across will test your patience at times, as it can be incredibly difficult to judge if you can take a lower trajectory, or how much air to get in order to hit the slope on your way down, one wrong move and you’ll be lucky to stay upright and once again, you’ll lose a few places which will take you half a lap to win back.
There’s really so much I love about MXGP2 and due to the lack of real competition, I know I’ll come back to this far more than any other racing game (except maybe Project Cars) but there’s still those niggling little annoyances which hopefully point to a very solid direction for the future.