Motocross games have been missing for a little while. Forza, Need for Speed and Gran Tourismo all cement the four wheel end of the vehicle spectrum but I haven’t had any fun motocross experiences since Motorstorm.
MXGP3 sets to change that. An in-depth motocross experience from the makers of WRC which puts all of the fun of four wheels on two in a surprisingly fun game I expect to be bringing out for quite a while. The game provides a disciplined look at the motocross experience, one which will require you to think through how you play rather than just launch around the track.
You can play MXGP3 in either career mode or arcade mode. The career mode is built to resemble real motocross racing and as such you get a choice of different teams and sponsorships at the start to go with your jersey and bike. Your team will offer you challenges, which will allow you to gain a few extra credits and are fairly simple such as beating a certain player or finishing a certain position. It isn’t deep but it is enough to keep you invested in being the best. You can also play any track in any weather you want alone or with competition to practice without the pressure of your sponsor in an arcade mode, and even be one of many real life motocross riders.
The racing itself if wonderfully niche. Like actual racing as you travel the track you and your opponents carve muddy tracks through the dirt, which you can use to gain advantage on corners. This is helped by the fact the controls are quite forgiving as long as you don’t try to do any stupidly crazy tricks. It’ll take some time to get the hang of how the tracks will help you, otherwise you will wipe out; a lot. Thankfully with this you gain the rewind function, which allows you to jump around twenty seconds back and attempt your run again. This is almost a staple in most games now and here it is as welcome an addition as it is everywhere else. If you feel you’re too pro for this feature though, you can turn it off which will gain you a few extra credits.
Winning these races and completing goals earns you cash, which is very quickly lost in the plethora of upgrades available. You’ll quickly fall into the cycle of race-upgrade-race to get new parts or new bikes to your arsenal. There are plenty of real world brands in the game, and apart from personal preference there is no reason to pick one over the others. While the bikes have different stats, I found just picking the best accelerator worked well and slamming a new exhaust on, which surprisingly seemed to have the best impact on track times. Rest assured though, there is plenty to play around with here, and you’ll never find yourself in short supply of things to change to make the best bike for your personal style.
Those of you who are more fans of the car racing side of the genre take note: Those skills are not transferable. If you try gunning around the tracks you will be abusing the aforementioned rewind functions a lot. Playing this game goes beyond knowing when to let off the gas of gun the revs in a corner. The major point this is shown is the rider’s weight. While you control the vehicle with the left analogue stick, the right readjusts the rider’s weight, which means turning is a two part effort. Too sharp into a corner and you will not have time to adjust the weight and bail, too wide and while you’ll need little adjustment you are gonna lose a lot of time.
That is really what makes MXGP3 unique in a way I enjoy. It isn’t a challenge of who simply has the fastest car and knows how to use it akin to Forza or Gran Tourismo. It’s about using your weight to shave seconds off a corner, deciding whether to follow another rider’s line to gain time or take a new one so as not to carve their line deeper and let others use it. The dedication to showing the discipline of motocross in a positive light is there. Sure, the learning curve is high, but in this case the satisfaction is there and you can utilise features such as rewind until you are ready. If the game just had a tiny bit more polish I would be happy planting this game with a 10. But I must instead give it an 8. Be assured however that MXGP3 is the best motocross game I have played in a long damn time.