Despite not keeping up to date that much with the real sport outside video gaming, I’ve found myself to be quite the fan of Motocross. The muddy tracks, tricky bikes and gritty racing are what I consider pure racing, and MXGP does a fantastic job in bringing that to the PlayStation 4.
You might remember that MXGP, which is the officially licensed game of the sport, previously released on last generation consoles earlier this year. The PlayStation 4 version comes equipped with a few changes including four new tracks, deformable terrain and lighting and audio improvements.
Before you even jump into your first race you’ll notice there is a bundle of content in MXGP. There are plenty of offline modes to twiddle your thumbs trough including a fully fleshed out career mode, time attack sessions, and single grand prix and championship events. Or you can take the race online in the online season mode and standard races. The only noticeable omission is split screen racing, which is a real shame.
Understandably the game’s content bears a lot of similarities to MotoGP 14, Milestone’s last two-wheeled racer on the PlayStation 4. The career, for example, requires you to earn a reputation at a lower racing level before being picked up by the bigger MX1 teams. The new online season is probably the most exciting mode in the game, however. In seasons you have to earn enough points in a set number of races against online opposition to progress to the next MX level. Those who play FIFA online will be familiar with this system.
Having a lot of content may be great – but how does MXGP play? Thankfully, it’s brilliant – the racing is full throttle all the way to the finish line. It’s intense and wonderfully challenging, leaving you mentally drained by the end of each race. The tricky courses mixed with a grid of twenty-two riders makes each race unpredictable as you get to grips with the physicalities of bunched riders and changing terrain.
Motocross bikes are of course menacing machines in real life, but thankfully in MXGP they are easy enough to control. Using both analogue sticks; the left to control the bike and the right for the rider’s lean, you can easily turn sharply or control your riders balance in and before jumps. While the riding may not be as fluid as what we’ve seen in the MX Vs ATV series such as Reflex and Alive, it’s still smooth and enjoyable.
The deformation of the terrain is a really nice touch to the game. After a few laps the course begins to wear away leaving deep groves at the turns and jumps making the racing just that bit harder. It can be a little bit frustrating though, with the unpredictable in-game physics leading to some odd incidents, with the deformation resulting in certain crashes at some points along the course. Luckily you can set the physics to your liking (base, medium or pro), so if you’re finding it a little difficult you can set the physics to base level which is more forgiving.
The AI riders aren’t very difficult at the easy or medium setting. You’ll quickly find yourself winning races and topping qualifying without much of a challenge. Those brave enough to set the AI to hard will get the most out of the game. It’s in the online racing where you will have the most fun, though: I had a tense ten lap online race in which there was a battle for a podium place lasting for nearly fifteen minutes. A mistake at the last corner on the last lap saw me lose out. Although I was completely deflated at the result when it’s the other way around it can feel immensely satisfying.
The course detail in MXGP on PlayStation 4 is also impressive. The terrain looks fantastic as it becomes more and more worn by the end of each lap, with your rider and bike also becoming muddier as the race progresses. Off the track Milestone have done a great job in creating a buzz as you’ve weave around the course. The detailed fans and paddocks, which fortunately don’t suffer from any pop in delays, are loud and in number as you’d expect at a race event, which adds to the racing experience.
Given the lack of racing games on the PlayStation 4 at the moment you have to praise Milestone’s efforts in bringing two content packed racers to the system. After playing MXGP, and also MotoGP 14 for the record, you might find yourself asking yourself if the best racing is really to be had on two wheels and not four.
Overall MXGP provides a wonderful racing experience. The unpredictable physics, terrain deformation and challenging opposition (whether it be online players or AI set to hard) combine to make a gritty racing game, which you can have plenty of fun with thanks to the sheer about of content. Truthfully, MXGP is at its best in the online season mode which is ultimately dependent on how busy the servers are.