Considering that the only form of sport I follow is wrestling, I’m extremely limited in how I can experience “faithful” and “realistic” achievements in sporting games. Lifelike ultra responsive gear changes in F1? I barely know what a gear is. New customisable tactical depth in FIFA 19? I don’t know what any of those words mean. What’s that, new & improved motion capture for AJ Styles’ abdominal muscles, holy crap they look sweet! The MXGP is the latest sporting organisation that flies completely over my head and, as a result of working with their most hardcore fans, their latest release promises to be the biggest, the most improved and the most realistic title throughout Motorcross history. The question is however, can I see and feel this from a complete beginner’s perspective? This won’t be a simple ride in the park.
MXGP Pro is the latest official release from the Motorcross League it shares its name with, once again helmed by the high flying maniacs at Italian studio Milestone. After gaining both critical acclaim and outcries for improvements from fans of 2017’s MXGP3, Milestone have worked intimately and extensively with the Motorcross professionals themselves to create the most authentic and widely satisfying game they could make, hence the word ‘Pro’ finding its way into the title. Avid MXGP fans wanted more realistic and influencing in-air control, as well as more personal involvement in the motorbike’s braking and corner taking, and with that Milestone have completely remodelled and overhauled the game’s physics, so say hello to the brand new and highly innovative Pro Physics. As well as featuring the entire roster of current and aspiring champions from the latest season of Motorcross-ing, not to mention the brand new treacherous training compound, MXGP Pro certainly sounds like the cries from fans have been heard and implemented tenfold, but is it all that it’s cracked up to be?
Being the MXGP noob that I am I came into this game thinking it was like every other racing game on the planet, just hold down accelerate, occasionally break, frequently drift and then full speed ahead to claim first place; I found out rather quickly that this is absolutely not the case. It’s a grave shame that having not played this series before I cannot truly experience the vast and essential modifications that have been tirelessly built into this latest venture, however as a complete novice I can experience what it means to be a truly skilled and calculating racer, because MXGP Pro actually requires you to be both. Unlike most franchise sequels, the technological advancements here don’t come solely from its visuals or game modes, but rather it’s physics and psychology, and the brand new MXGP Pro Physics genuinely add weight onto your controller ensuring you feel every bump in the track, every pound on your person and every harsh, mouth watering landing. Shifting your weight mid-air and on the track plays an important part in fighting through the pack and staying on your bike, so much so that you can honestly feel and see from the screen whether you’ve taken a corner or jump incorrectly, which is staggering and unlike any other racing game I’ve ever played. Not being an encyclopaedic minded fan of either the sport or game franchise it’s difficult for me to personally tell you how accurate and satisfying the Pro Physics are, but what I can tell you is that it is absolutely unlike anything I’ve had the liberty of controlling before, not to mention the mind games it played on me knowing that every corner, jump & break had to be concise; if you really want a challenging and hugely innovative racing game that requires you to think about more than just the finishing line, then MXGP could be right up your street.
The Training compound is where you’ll hang out if you want to practise and refine your skills, or at least it would be if the “training” elements actually trained you. The compound itself is a huge intertwining motorcross paradise built to gear you up for any obstacle, and after a pretty unremarkable “tutorial” you’ll want to spend as much time as possible hear to learn how to do the basics because the narrator won’t do that for you. The Compound also boasts a number of training modules, or challenges that’ll push you to the limit, and I’m afraid to say they are the latter because once again they don’t teach you anything. As someone who wanted to improve how to tackle corners or how to break effectively, the training modules were about as helpful as a chocolate exhaust pipe, merely telling me what the goal was and scorning me for failing, rather than training me on how I can complete these and become a better biker. Because of this lacklustre and punishing form of tuition I had to resort to experimenting with controls and techniques mid race, making each grand prix I competed in a confusing, stressful experience opposed to the rowdy, kickass one it should be. It goes without saying that MXGP Pro isn’t your typical racing game, I’ve made that clear enough already, but to not offer actually helpful training wheels and guidance on how to progress in this game makes this inaccessible for a wider, more casual audience.
MXGP’s career mode is what you’d expect from a franchises video game representative, create a star, compete around the world and become a legend. The Career mode doesn’t get off to the best of starts however because of the very limited and poor customisation options, and though I understand that this franchise isn’t about how glitzy and polished its graphics are, the least I expect is visuals and options worthy of a game releasing in 2018. Once your dishevelled star has been born it’s time to kit out your bike, a bike that can be customised via many sponsored parts which in turn give you specific stipulations you must abide by throughout your season. Having secondary objectives to complete alongside the obvious “do as well as you can” main quest storyline, makes for a more intense, encouraging and focused career mode. A feature I particularly loved from the past few F1 outings especially has been the inclusion of heated rivalries, and after every MXGP event you’ll have the opportunity to respond to competitors in a manner of your choosing via your fictional social media platform. Having personal beef with other AI competitors adds yet another level of intrigue and challenge to the already difficult game, which once again ensures that this just isn’t a simple minded racing game but a realistic racing simulator.
MXGP Pro is the ultimate motorcross experience and even I can see, or rather feel, that this is as lifelike an experience a fan can get from his or her sofa. The innovative Pro Physics will truly push experienced fans to their limit, whereas the multilayered career mode will be enough to stimulate newcomers to this cool and calculated racing challenge … well that’s if the ridiculous training doesn’t steer you away first.