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Moto GP 07 Review

Moto GP 07 pack shot
Developer:Climax
Publisher:THQ
Genre:Motorcycle Racing
Platform:PC
Official Site:http://www.motogpthegame.com/
Release Date:September 28th, 2007 (UK)
Reviewer:Duncan Lawson (sinna01)
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Here's a little trivia for all those of you who aren't greasers, petrolheads or motorboys: MotoGP bikes are distinct from, say, the 'Superbikes' you see race as the MotoGP rides are built from the ground up purely for racing and as such are not legally aloud on any public road. This is simply because any normal person without the lightning twitch reactions and superhuman sensory uptake of a professional MotoGP racer will very quickly crash said vehicle into the nearest barrier or tree. In this sense Climax Studios MotoGP '07 for the PC truly is a roaring success. You really get the sense of being massively incompetent at the controls of such a bike, and if anyone had any doubts about their chance of survival bestride one of these suicidal devices, your life expectancy will surely be illustrated by the constant and ugly crashes, unseating, and inelegant siding across the speedway. I personally encourage Climax Studio's PC development branch to go with their first instinct and re-brand the title 'Are You Sure You Wouldn't Rather Just Walk, That Look Like it Hurt? 07'

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If my editor would temporarily forgive me, I would like to quote a reader comment found on MotoGP's own website user boards. A gentleman called Jerry writes..

"…When the front end is about to tuck, the game makes the bike dip momentarily, allowing the player to save the lowside if they react quickly. Likewise, the back steps out predictably and can be controlled, but unlike the THQ and Namco games, extreme drifting is as impossible as it is unrealistic."

Valid, poignant, and no doubt proves that Jerry is truly a man for our times. However, if anyone can please tell me what in fuckery he is talking about, that would be super too. Jerry is amongst the many fans of the MotoGP series, an extremely popular franchise that has produced MotoGP 1 through 3 as well as '06, '07 and a number of special additions. It is to the discerning bike enthusiast what Gran Turisimo is to the slightly more common aficionado of four wheeled motor sport.

The franchise has an extremely loyal following, and has prospered for many of the same reasons GT has. The games designers are clearly completely in love with their subject matter, producing the psychotic attention to detail that can only come of a life long love affair. The physics of not only each bike, but each component of that bike is crafted and reproduced with a passion that borders on the uncomfortably erotic. The perfect modelling extends to each square foot of each of the famous tracks it includes, the vital statistics the championship riders that year, the logos, the decals, the way each individual gear tooth will catch at just the right levels of revs along that perfect racing line. Where it perhaps differs from the GT titles is in its graphical refinement. A very strong part of the GT games has always been the cutting edge graphics employed, and whilst the MotoGP titles are no slouch, simple visual shininess has always been secondary to really nailing the handling of the rides themselves.

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Added into this year's instalment, aside from those new and earth shatteringly important minute shifts in specs and data, is a more fleshed out Career Mode, a Extreme Mode, and a greater number of unlockable rides and courses. Extreme Mode is by far the most notable feature, as it the game suddenly shifts from the rarefied atmosphere of the Sim set amongst the technical perfection of the racing line and the obsessive pit crew to a experience that's far more akin to Need for Speed. Unlocked once you complete an entire championship (a baffling and frankly idiot requirement) the mode will allow you to earn prize money on races through cityscapes, race for pink slips, and physically and visually customise your bike. The courses and no longer the domain of the technical Prima Dona, but now tend to contain longer sweeping curves and generally tracks that lend themselves to the general thrill of racing rather than cool precision. For the less dedicated racing fans amongst us, this mode seems like an entirely different game, significantly more accessible, and nearly inexplicable given how it is hidden behind its austere, less personable sibling.

So, if you really want the best feeling of tearing around a loop of asphalt on what is clearly the most suicidal way of getting from A to B shy of catapult, you would be hard pressed to do better than the latest instalment of MotoGP for the 360 or PS2. What you nearly certainly don't want to do is pick this up on the PC. For anyone who has ever tried to play a halfway competent driving / riding sim on the PC, the reasons should be obvious. For those who have not had this dubious experience, gather in and I shall save you much grief and a moderate amount of money.

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Some folks espouse the PC as the ultimate gaming platform, even in this day on Nth generation consoles. They have some good arguments, as the PC clearly has the widest, most varied, and involving games of any medium. However, what is also for certain is that consoles beat the pants of the PC in certain genres, particularly in driving and riding Sims, and even the less exacting racing game genre (say Project Gotham Racing or MotorStorm, as compared to Gran Turismo). Yes, you can put enough raw power hardware into a PC to reproduce the graphics adequately, and yes you can get a high-gain analogue control, and yes you can pick up a monitor as big and as good as your entertainment centres' TV, but by the time you've done all that you've achieved the same result for about five times what it would have cost you for a second hand PS2. Consoles, like the MotoGP bikes themselves are built from the ground up to handle just this sort of game, and the PC is in a word horrible at it.

When playing a racing game you don't want load times, you want the highest imaginable frame rate whatever is happening on-screen, and you want sharp, dedicated analogue controls. Your four trusty directional buttons are just not even close to adequate to steer a crotch rocket around the most taxing courses in the civilised world. Making a corner in MotoGP is very hard indeed, and not a good corner mind you, just any corner that still involves the original arrangement of rider on top of bike and not a variation on that theme. Even in the forgiving Extreme Mode, with the physics in their friendly settings, cornering is a precise science of taking the outside line, breaking in, accelerating at the perfect point and powering out. You will not have the luxury of tidying up a bad corner part of the way through as you might on four paws instead of two. You will nearly certainly find yourself tobogganing through the gravel bank or simply bouncing into the air. Although MotoGP 07 is fairly forgiving, and will right you and set you on your way again in a handful of seconds, it is still akin to brain surgery with boxing gloves on. The old advice between bikers is to keep the shiny side up, but a PC rider can expect to spend a lot of time looking at the undercarriage of a bike you couldn't even ride home once you've given up on the whole idea of racing.

Summary

MotoGP 07 is a fine bike racing game, and whilst this instalment has been received as a lukewarm addition compared to its predecessors, the franchise remains well respected. If two wheels are your thing, and you want to race with the MotoGP champions such as Kenny Roberts, Jr., Sylvain Guintoli, Alex Hofmann, Cary Ford, or Henry James then this is for you.

On the other hand if you didn't know the last two aren't champion MotoGP racers at all, and actually names of characters from guilty pleasure motorbike movie Torque of 2004, then both you and me will be happier racing down Rainbow Road with its friendly physics and better suited system.

The bottom line
6.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Lovingly crafted physics and modelling.
  • System to tweak you bikes gears and clutches for the greasers.
  • System to tweak your bikes colour and stickers for everyone else.

Not so good stuff

  • Utterly pointless PC incarnation.
  • Hiding the more involving Extreme mode behind the prissy Championship Mode.
  • As hard and unforgiving as actually trying to race a MotoGP bike.


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