Posted by Stuart Reddick
Is this two-wheeled racer quick off the mark or does it experience some trouble before leaving the starting grid?
Before we get stuck into the review, it's time for a little history lesson. Back in 2006, when Disney bought the Climax racing studio (who produced some excellent MotoGP titles for the Xbox), the MotoGP license went exclusively to Capcom. The company brought in respected developer Milestone Interactive to handle development duties and so far they've struggled to match the brilliance of Climax's entries.
The series has now come to the Wii, dubbed simply 'MotoGP' (we assume they'll add the year to the next version they produce). In the pre-release hype Capcom promised high-speed racing action that would put gamers on the edge of their seats, but there appears to have been a collision even before the game hit the tarmac.
The problems start the moment you pop the game into your Wii. There’s just something about driving a two-wheeled vehicle at high-speeds that should put gamers at the edge of their seats, but MotoGP does a horrendous job of teaching players the basics. As you drive along the introductory test track, a message will occasionally pop up notifying you that you have a new “tip.” That means pausing the game, bringing up the tutorial screen, looking at a brief and unhelpful note, and then it’s back to the riding. It’s an irritating process that presents players with a tedious stop-start tasks that they shouldn’t have to endure.
On the other hand though, all the standard racing modes can be found in MotoGP – there’s a Championship event, Time Attack mode, a Career mode, and a Quick race option. The Career mode takes you on a mostly painful and boring adventure that spans across all three 18 MotoGP events. It also allows you to battle real-life racers and bump your bike's stats as you progress, but even that can’t save the game from being a complete snooze-fest.
Slightly better than the Career mode is the Championship option that offers a wide-open competitive mode that lets you customize your season however you see fit. The Time Attack challenges allow you to set personal records on each of the game’s tracks, and Quick Race is self-explanatory. There's also an extensive Challenge mode with 50 different events that test your skills with handling, braking and racing your bike, and you can unlock more difficult challenges as you complete others.
The Wii version of MotoGP offers four different control schemes, all of which are unspectacular. One sees the player using the Wii Remote's motion sensors to steer, two other options use the nunchuk's analog stick and Wii Remote together, and then there's a final scheme that uses a combination of both. The last choice attempts to turn the Wii Remote into a handlebar throttle, which is a clever idea. The best option is to simply use the Nunchuck's analog stick to steer and the Wii Remote for braking and other secondary functions.
There are also three handling setups in MotoGP, and those are Arcade, Advanced and Simulation. The former makes it difficult to lose a race, while the latter makes it impossibly difficult to win. Using the Arcade controls, you can fly through levels and come first most of the time. Advanced makes your bike somewhat difficult to handle, and while racing, you’ll occasionally see your back tire kick out if you accelerate too aggressively around a turn. And finally there's Simulation mode, which is the most difficult to control and as a result is only for seasoned pros (or people who enjoy punishment).
And the complaints don’t stop there. Besides all that, MotoGP suffers from some major presentation problems. The crowds look like cardboard cutouts stuck onto a piece of paper, the environments are as still as rocks and every rider's animations look exactly the same. There’s no bike customization to be found here and there’s no real point of racing. It’s a boring experience that only the most hardcore gamers will continue playing.
MotoGP was probably intended to provide an accessible experience but somewhere along the line the developers seem to have decided that they wanted to cater for hardcore bike fans as well, and as a result they've messed everything up. The handling feels loose and inaccurate, the tracks are dull and uninspired and the gameplay is the pits. Everything about the game just feels bare-bones and lacks polish.
MotoGP certainly isn’t going to give Mario Kart Wii a run for its money and it’d be a real shame if Capcom actually made a profit off of this. Everything about the game is downright horrendous and it’s an extremely boring and dull experience from start to finish. Bike racing games have the ability to be great - previous MotoGP titles have proven that - but this is lacking in almost every respect. There are plenty of great racers on Wii but MotoGP certainly isn’t one of them.