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Game Info:

MXGP2
MXGP2 – The Official Motocross Video Game
Developed By: Milestone S.r.l.
Published By: Milestone S.r.l.
Released: April 7, 2016
Available On: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows
Genre: Racing
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1 offline, 12 online
Price: $22.00
(Kinguin Affiliate Link)

Thanks to Milestone S.r.l. for the review key!

Racing games, through all the various sub-genres, revolve around a simple, universal goal: get your vehicle under control. Whether it’s Mario Kart or Gran Turismo, getting a handle on your ride is paramount to high speeds, fast laps, and good times all around. Not all vehicles are created equal, however; cars on smooth pavement, after all, will go in the direction they’re pointed, drifting notwithstanding. Wrangling a motorbike on beat-up dirt is a different beast altogether. If you’re looking for a little wrestling in your racing, look no further than MXGP2.

Billing itself as “The Official Motocross Video Game,” MXGP2 certainly doesn’t disappoint in that regard. The game features the entire roster of the 2015 MXGP season in both tracks and riders, and even includes the “minor league” MX2 racers. The official racing teams, such as Monster Energy Kawasaki or Red Bull KTM, all make an appearance with their representatives – and are fully joinable in the Career mode. The seven major bike manufacturers are all represented, with options for both MXGP and lower-class MX2 vehicles. The league’s official sponsors are all over the place as well but never a distraction, in what might be the only generally accepted form of in-game advertising. Suffice it to say that fans of MXGP will find everything comfortably familiar.

As far as the racing goes, MXGP2 has no shortage of options. The lengthy career mode is likely the main draw, allowing you to create a custom racer and team, pick a bike, and work your way up from an unknown MX2 racer to MXGP world champion. The credits you earn from competing go toward bike upgrades and rider gear – you’ll get a lot of credits rather quickly, but you’ll rarely be starved for options. There’s also the Motocross of Nations competition, where you control one of a country’s three racers in a three-race competition split between MXGP and MX2 bikes and riders. The Stadium Series offers four indoor, technical tracks to race on, and the Real Events put you in the shoes of a real-life racer in an actual event, depicted before the race via video clip, and have you either repeat an impressive feat or change history and recover from an extreme disadvantage. With a wide-open test track, the necessary single race option, and online multiplayer, there’s certainly plenty to do.

MXGP2
Highlights:

Strong Points: Technical, involved, satisfying racing; lots of content; good visuals
Weak Points: Poor sound design and music; graphically demanding; potentially unable to access multiplayer
Moral Warnings: Women in vaguely revealing clothing

What will make or break the game for you, however, is the actual racing. Split somewhere between arcade and simulation, MXGP2 pulls no punches with how difficult a motorbike can handle. While record times in a game like Need for Speed might come down to better lines and exploited shortcuts, MXGP2 all but requires you to pay attention to every aspect of your bike. With controls for both the direction of the bike and the weight distribution of the rider – the two thumbsticks on a controller, WASD and arrow keys on keyboard – every turn and jump requires thought on every lap. For instance, coming up on a series of jumps necessitates gauging your bike’s current speed, when to lay off the accelerator and therefore set your trajectory in the air, and whether to pull your bike and/or rider forward or backward. Do it right, you’ll land on the backside of a hill and keep your speed; misjudge anything, and you’ll land on the upslope, kill your pace, and look like a doofus as your competition flies by. It’s never a complete simulation – crashing or going too far (read: a foot or two) off course will just teleport you back to the track – but it’s much more technical than your average arcade racer.

To help you master your bike, MXGP2 has a wealth of gameplay-changing options. Along with four difficulty modes, you’re able to set whether the game helps you with braking (there are both front wheel and back wheel brakes to consider), weight distribution, and gear shifting. You can also change the physics of the bike, from the lenient “base” option to realistic “pro” physics – the latter makes the brakes and gas affect your bike both on the ground and in the air, and hitting the accelerator at the wrong time can make your ride buck backwards and toss you off. Not only that, but you can tweak your bike’s suspension and gear ratios to offer more or less stability or responsiveness, fix under- or over-steering, and generally adjust to each of the game’s three track types. Racing on the highest difficulty with everything on manual is an extremely involved experience, but oh-so-satisfying when you can pull it off.

Within the races themselves, you have a few more options, at least within the career mode. Each race weekend is set up in four parts: practice, qualifying, and two races – you can choose to participate in all of them, skip practice, or jump straight to the races. Of course, skipping qualifying means you’ll be unable to pick which gate to start from, immediately putting you at the disadvantaged dead-last 22nd spot. Each lap of the actual race features the game’s dirt deformation mechanic: the turns in the track get beat up with each lap, making it harder to cruise through them, though the gorges can actually help turn your bike if you hit them right. If you crash, the game has a built-in rewind mechanic, letting you reverse time roughly ten seconds and set up again – though this has a roughly twelve second recharge, so if you beef it again you’re out of luck. If this seems like cheating, that’s because it basically is. You can set the number of rewinds per race in the options, from nine all the way down to none if you’re brave enough.

The visuals of the game are of mostly high quality throughout, with each track having a distinct look and feel to them. There aren’t any weather effects to speak of, but the lighting and environments make each track recognizable from a distance. Your bike and rider get covered in mud and dirt as you ride, either steadily throughout the race or immediately if you faceplant. The sizable crowds are all 3D models, if not particularly detailed, and a few even have a flag-waving animation – impressive even now, with some modern racers sticking to 2D crowds only. It’s not all pleasant, however, as the particle effects are lacking: the bikes don’t kick up nearly as much dust as they should. It’s also rather demanding on the hardware, and if your graphics card isn’t up to snuff (like a certain reviewer’s GTX 960M) be prepared for some hefty slowdowns and even a crash or two. Luckily, the game still looks nice enough on low settings.

MXGP2
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 5/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 97%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 8.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The weakest point of MXGP2 has to be in its sound. The bike engines do sound different based on their manufacturer, and the effects while rewinding time are pretty neat, but there’s not much more to be said. The bikes make some strange noises if you land too hard or hit something, and are loud enough to easily clear the roar of the engines, which do an effective job of blocking out everything else. Not like there’s much else to block out: the songs as generic as they come, with only a handful of rather low-energy tracks that you won’t miss once the racing starts. You’re better off muting it and putting on your own driving music.

One more thing to mention, though it may not affect you, involves the multiplayer. Attempting to access it gives a consistent, baffling “invalid profile” error, and the game kicks back to the main menu. Some searching online details continued issues of that sort, though with no solutions to be found. It seems to mainly, or perhaps only, affect PC users, and even then not all of them. While there’s plenty of single-player content to be had, if you want to race other human beings, you should take note.

As a standard racing game, there’s little to concern morality-minded customers. Some of the ragdolls from crashes can look pretty nasty, but no injuries are possible. Before every race, a model with a midriff-revealing outfit holds up a card announcing the time until the gates drop, but it’s rather tame and you’re likely to skip the whole scene after you’ve seen it a few times. The game may be dirty, but thankfully it’s the kind that washes off with water.

With its wealth of options and engaging racing action, MXGP2 is a rather different but quite enthralling racing game. While obviously tailored to fans of the actual sport, even novices can find a solid, satisfying experience - and who knows, might even make a fan out of you. While there’s plenty to be found within the $49.99 price, at the time of writing MXGP3 is just over a month from release, and the cost is likely to fall. It’s certainly worth a look, even if it’s just for a test drive before the new game.

-Cadogan

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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