Fans of the MotoGP series finally have their first next-generation game to call their own. Developer Climax has brought its highly successful and critically acclaimed MotoGP series to the Xbox 360 complete with the traditional next generation face lift and obvious online upgrades. The big question however is can the series attract some newcomers or will it simply appeal to die-hard fans?
The first thing you will notice about this next-generation crotch rocket simulator is the obviously the visual upgrade. Granted Climax did an amazing job of making these games look brilliant on the original Xbox, but once you see this baby blazing by you in 720p you really learn to appreciate small details such as mist on your helmets faceplate and of course watching dust and gravel kick up underneath your bike.
The entire game also blazes past you at an amazingly consistent frame rate while only dropping when your rider takes some seemingly graphically intensive turns. The only real major gripe with the visuals is that when you run the game in 1080i you will notice some tearing and sync problems with the visuals, but nothing game breaking. Visually the game is quite impressive and can easily be mistaken for a real life race on more than one occasion.
For those of you familiar with the sport MotoGP 06 is probably the most true to life version of the game to date. Almost all of the tracks and riders are present along with plenty of career modes to keep you occupied. The main single player consists of Grand Prix and Extreme 600, 1000 and 1200, which are basically back to back races that earn you money and points to upgrade your rider and progress through the ranks.
While this is all fine and dandy my biggest concern is that every race feels exactly the same with your main goal simply being to advance to the next one. Climax could have gone the extra mile and added a rivalry system or even some more depth to the bike and rider customization to break up the monotony from time to time. In the end this really drags the game down as you get higher in ranking as the races seem to matter less and less the higher you get.
To spice things up a little Climax has opted to add challenges to each course; these can range from learning to take corners at high speed to simply weaving in and out of cone obstacles. As I mentioned earlier there is also the Extreme mode which is a fictional set of tracks based on different locales such as the Czech Republic. There are a total of 17 of these fictional courses and the overall feel is a bit more arcadey than the typical GP mode.
For newcomers to the series Climax has also added a very nice set of tutorials to the game that will guide you through the basics of racing. This is an extremely welcome addition as MotoGP has a much higher learning curve than your average racing title. Learning to master the two-brake style and of course the tighter turning is much different than checking cars in Burnout and as such takes a much longer time to master. Also like I mentioned earlier the challenges for each course will also aid in teaching you how to control these speed traps when racing in the career mode and online.
Speaking of online MotoGP 06 of course supports up to 16 players over Xbox Live as well as leader boards statistics and even future content download. The options are pretty basic and the race types will not win awards for innovation but the time we spent online was met with very little lag and was actually quite enjoyable. You can race any of the GP or Extreme tracks and even race in a stunt mode event where riders are awarded points for pulling off dangerous maneuvers. It is a nice addition but certainly not the best integration of Xbox Live we have seen so far.
MotoGP 06 is a cut and paste version of MotoGP 3 for the Xbox and it shows that more often than not. Fans of the series will certainly find plenty to enjoy, but if you have already been down this road before there isn’t much here to solidify a purchase. However if you have never experienced a MotoGP title this is certainly where to start as the Live integration and high-definition visuals certainly make this game worth its price tag. While not the most innovative title found on the Xbox 360, MotoGP 06 is certainly a solid title that any fan of the series or genre will find plenty to have fun with.