Review: SBK Generations (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

First turn, remember to brake gently when turning and then accelerate out. Turn nailed but you’re already at the next one and you’ve misjudged it. You’ve turned too quick and are left to watch as the bike slides away from me. Welcome to the SBK Generations, where the smallest error can have major consequences.

SBK Generations, by Italian developers Milestone and published by Black Bean Games, is the sixth game in the current bseries after its resurrection in 2007. There are four modes available in SBK Generations, Free Play, Career, SBK Experience and Multiplayer, though there is no option for local multiplayer. The modes all offer different experiences and it’s worth exploring all of them.

[boxout]The Career mode is the main attraction. When you first start you’ll be asked to choose from an option of three simulation options, Low, Medium and High. Low is for those who have little to no experience of racing sim titles and the game will give lots of hints and assistance during races. Medium is for those who have some experience and fancy a bit of a challenge. There will still be some assistance during races and a few hints. Finally, High is for the purists, for those who want to get the turns just right, hit the throttle at the precise right moment, and work on the bike until the setup is perfect.

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Once you’ve chosen the option you’ll be asked to Create A Rider. It only takes a couple of minutes and is mostly cosmetic, though you can choose your rider’s riding style, picking from styles of real riders. Next you get to pick the team you want to race for. This may seem relatively minor, but you need to choose carefully as each team has its own conditions and targets. Also, make a note to check all the gameplay options because once you start a career you cannot change options like the opponent difficulty level, a feature which would have been handy to incorporate.

Race Weekends in Career Mode consist of two Free Practice modes, to get to know the track and your bike, the Qualifying rounds and, if you finish high enough, the Superpole shoot out to determine your final position on the grid for the first race. There are three races in all per weekend, each awarding points for the Championship. At the end of each weekend you’ll also be rewarded Reputation points, which go towards unlocking better contracts from better teams.

Gameplay wise, the racing is okay. One very minor issue with AI riders is that they stick so close to the racing  line meaning that, at times, it can be very easy to over take them. They’re also seemingly perfect, not suffering the same kind of race drama as human riders. For example they don’t seem to take a turn wrong or lose control of their bike, leaving the races feeling a bit clinical. It’s also irritating that if a bike makes contact with you you might lose your grip and fall, whilst AI riders can be in similar collisions with no ill effects.

Really, the only time you see other bikes crash is if they hit your bike as it slides across the track, not that there’s much punishment for falling off your bike. You’ll be put back on the track just a couple of seconds behind the opposition.

[drop2]However, if the crash is big enough (and you remember to turn the options on) bike damage and rider injury will play a huge part. Go into a barrier hard enough and your bike can become too damaged to continue racing, or you may have injured your racer so badly that they can’t finish the race.

Whilst the variation in crashes is nice, you may find yourself crashing a little too frequently due too the slightly fickle handling. Sometimes turning just seems so sluggish, even if you’ve been through those turns lots of times before on the same bike with no problems.

The graphics look brilliant though, and the weather effects and well implemented. If your bike isn’t stable after a turn you’ll see it weave a bit before regaining balance, and if you turn to quickly and tightly you’ll see the exact point where your rider loses control of the bike. Those little touches really can add to the immersion.

Outside of the racing, the main feature is bike tuning. For fans of the series and of racing this will be a nice feature, you can spend a ton of time changing every little detail of your bike and then test your setup on the track. If you don’t like it then go back to the garage and change the setup again.

For those, like me, who don’t know the intricate details of bike performance you can talk to the Engineer. There’s a few options to go through, and based on your requirements, he will change the bike setup to tackle challenges that you face. It’s a quick and easy to navigate option which is implemented fairly, but I did feel on occassion that some changes weren’t carried over between different sessions.

The SBK Experience mode is basically a Challenge mode. There are numerous challenges from across the four seasons, plus a locked mode. Completing challenges in each year moves you towards unlocking new riders to use in the Free Play and Multiplayer modes.

[drop]The challenges include doing a wheelie for a specified amount of time, checkpoint challenges and beating riders by a certain amount of time. It’s a fun mode and offers a decent distraction from the Career mode. The challenges will require a few tries before passing them as you have to ride perfectly, and depending how well you do then you’ll either get a Complete rating or a Storming rating, which is earned when you meet the more difficult challenge objectives.

Free Play gives you the option to do a quick race, create a Championship or do your own Race Weekend at a chosen track. Championships are a set of races at different tracks and skip the more in depth aspects of the Race Weekend. Multiplayer is pretty well implemented, easy to access and setup, with a maximum limit of 16 players per race.

During our time playing it we found no lag in the multiplayer, and if a rider left there was no delay. Whilst it looks like it could be active for a while amongst a core fanbase, many will likely move onto other racers.

Pros:

  • Looks brilliant.
  • In depth simulation mode.
  • Multiplayer is solid.
  • Offers hours of content.

Cons:

  • Racing feels too clinical.
  • Feeling of repetitiveness sets in quickly.
  • May not appeal to more casual racing fans.

Overall, SBK Generations does exactly what you expect it to. It’s a bike racing sim, which will appeal to fans of Superbike racing and engine tinkering. However, though the racing is okay, it’s nothing that stands out. If you are a Superbike racing fan get it as it’s the only game of its kind coming out this year, but for more casual racing fans it isn’t a must buy.

Score: 7/10

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5 Comments

  1. For around £20 already on Amazon, it’s certainly on my Wishlist! Never delved into Motorbikes before maybe this is the game to do so.

  2. This looks interesting as like you say its the only motorbike game this year and seeing as its already cheap it might be worth having a crack when it gets a little cheaper.

  3. Never bought any Motorbike sports other than Tourist Trophy I’m interested in them but they all seem to be either crap or a bit dear, I wonder if this has the Northwest 2000 then maybe… just.. maybe I will be tempted.

  4. To be fair, SBK is the best of the available Bike Sim games (Moto & SBK), but the low price is by no means a gifted bargain, it is closer to it’s actual worth on release. I have followed the SBK series from 09, and they aren’t too bad, but I’ll likely wait until this one’s dropped in price :O
    I’m a wanting Tourist Trophy 2!!!

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