MotoGP 2006 Review
Sometimes, racing games can be fun. Need for Speed Most Wanted, an arcade type racer, was a blast to play. You didn’t have to worry too much about exactly what kind of tires you used or if the suspension was perfectly tuned or some such – it was mostly racing. Sure, there were options to mess with and alter your tires, but all they truly boiled down to was upgrading your tires as you became a better racer – nothing nearly as deep as you’d see in a simulation racer like Gran Turismo 4.
A type of racer I’ve never really tried before, though, is a motorbike racer. After seeing some pictures of MotoGP 2006, I decided I’d give the genre a try. I figured the gameplay couldn’t be too difficult – riding a bike was pretty darn easy after I learned how to do it. I went to Blockbuster, rented the game and brought it home. I didn’t know that, for the next few hours, my girlfriend would be laughing her ass off at me as I consistently crashed my bike in a wide variety of fun and interesting ways. How my rider was still alive after the second or third crash, I don’t know.
MotoGP 2006 is the latest installment in Climax’s well-liked motorbike racer series. The game doesn’t have much in the way of play modes – you’ll be able to do a quick play race or do a string of races in either Grand Prix or one of three different Extreme modes. Each of the race types don’t change much in the way you’ll play as there is nothing really deep in the way of gameplay – you race, race some more and then, when you’re done with that, you race a bit. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though – the racing is quite fun once you get the hang of it.
That, though, shows my first major issue with MotoGP 06. Sure, there are a few small ‘challenges’ that gradually get harder that help you get better at controlling your bike and a very basic tutorial in the Grand Prix mode. What would have been ideal here is something you see often in the EA Sports games – a video tutorial that shows you the exact way to move your controller to accomplish certain tasks. One of the hardest things to do in MotoGP 2006 is timing your turns right and, well, there’s no real way to have the game show you how to do it. The only way to really learn in the absence of a real tutorial is to sit there on a practice track and crash your bike. Consistently. Hundreds of times. And when you’re done with that, you might, just might, be able to make a turn with some sort of efficiency and not send yourself flying into the wall. Even with the limited tutorial in Grand Prix Mode, you won’t truly learn the game without some interaction telling you that you’re doing this or that wrong.
After you have the whole concept of actually taking a turn down, you might be able to win a race or two. Each race isn’t that different, mind you, save for a different look on the track and different racers. You’re not going to have a ton of unique race types here, but instead will just race on different tracks. The races do work well, though, and the other riders don’t really seem to ‘cheat’ when they get too far behind. This is something that is seen entirely too often in racing games and, thankfully, Climax left that whole cheating rider idea out of the game.
The Grand Prix mode is actually pretty fun once you’ve learned everything you need to know about controlling the bike. A nice touch that can be seen here is that each track is actually one that was used on the real life MotoGP circuit. They aren’t races through towns like you would expect, but are races on actual tracks that have tons of unique twists and turns. You won’t be able to just go into a track and dominate it right away – run a few practice laps first just like any real rider would.
The practice mode was actually quite useful, unlike past racing games I’ve played. While it didn’t teach me how to pilot my bike properly, it did help me to pick up the nuances of making each turn at full speed. There were racers on the track to let me practice making the turn while other riders were around me, too. Another nice touch was that I could actually rewind a bit and move backwards on the track to try the same turn again at varying speeds or from inside/outside of the bend. This really went a long way to make the practice mode worth a damn instead of being something to do once for the hell of it.
After you complete the Grand Prix mode, you’ll unlock the Extreme 600cc mode. The extreme mode differs from the Grand Prix mode in that you aren’t racing on enclosed tracks like in Grand Prix but instead racing through tracks inspired by real-life locations. You’ll still make money as you go on through these races and will use the money to buy bikes to go up to higher ‘extreme’ levels. There are 600cc bikes, 1000cc bikes and 1200cc. Each of these bikes will pretty much move faster than their earlier counterparts.
A nice element of Extreme mode is that the tracks feel more like an arcade racer than a simulation racer. While climax didn’t have to really do this, including an Extreme mode (albeit behind a very difficult Grand Prix mode) gives the game a chance to appeal to two different types of gamers. Maybe having the basic Extreme mode unlocked from the beginning of the game and allowing gamers to either go through the Extreme or Grand Prix modes (or both if they really like both) would have drawn more people to this game.
The graphics are an area where this game really shines. Even on a non-HDTV, the game looks absolutely incredible. The bikes look awesome, the tracks look stellar and the lighting effects really stand out. The game has no sort of performance issues, either. While graphics don’t make a bad game good, they help to make this good game better.
Overall, MotoGP 06 was an entertaining game. At first, watching the crashes with the rag-doll type physics was pretty funny. Slowly learning how to actually control my bike gave way to actually winning the occasional race. After that, I continued to get better. The Extreme mode, though, was the best part of the game. If you’re thinking about picking up MotoGP 06, I’d highly recommend a rental first – make sure you can learn the controls and won’t get too frustrated with the game before you actually buy it. Being able to learn the controls will definitely make or break your ability to enjoy this game. If you can get past learning the controls, though, you’ll enjoy this one.