January 16, 2001
One racing genre that hasn't really taken off in the racing craze is motorbikes. It's strange because they provide just as much excitement as cars, and are definitely more dangerous. MotoGP from Namco is a port of the System 22 arcade game, which was actually called 500GP. This is a strange title in that while there are some great real-world physics (you must slow down to take the corners), getting knocked off your motorcycle is very hard even when colliding with other bikes. I guess Namco didn't want to make it too hard in the arcades and lose all their customers.
MotoGP allows you to experience the thrill of true-to-life 500cc motorcycle racing. The game is officially licensed from Dorna Promocin del Deporte, S.A., the sports marketing company behind the FIM World Motorcycle Championship. This license allows MotoGP to include real riders, circuits, and motorcycles. Namco have included 5 different game modes, 32 authentic bikes, five tracks (Suzuka, Paul Ricard, Jerez, Donington and Motegi) and the intensity of going head-to-head against the best riders in the world or a friend.
Namco have also included a challenge mode that allows you to unlock over 50 secrets, be it new bikes, new teams or photos. These challenges range from getting from point A to B within a set time or finishing in 1st place in Season or Arcade modes.
There is little doubt about the graphical splendor of MotoGP. It looks awesome, and is probably the most realistic motorcycle racing game ever seen on a console. The amount of trackside detail is quite amazing and as long as Namco can achieve a steady frame rate there is little doubt about the amazement that this game should generate. One of the most impressive features of this game is the replay mode. It's an experience to sit back and watch the replay as it is as close to real-life coverage that you would have seen in a video game. The sound, as you would expect, is a lot of motorbike noises, which hopefully can be backed up by some great music.
MotoGP is an exciting looking title, and from one of the best developers in the world deserves a lot of attention. With superb graphics (have a look at the video on the Official Playstation 2 Magazine cover disk to see what I mean) and exciting gameplay there is little doubt that this will be yet another great PS2 title. With Namco improving a game considerably for the home conversion (as they have done with most games lately) MotoGP should be at the top of your shopping list for the next couple of months. Roll on February.