February 28, 2001
One of the biggest launch titles on the Playstation 2 was Namco's Ridge Racer V. Sure, it had some nice graphics and the gameplay was strong, but has the series really progressed much since the first game on the PSOne almost six years ago now? Not really. Namco has now turned its development talents to creating a racing game starring machines of the 2 wheeled variety. MotoGP is actually a port of Namco's little seen arcade game, 500GP. As with most of Namco's arcade ports lately there have been several major enhancements for the home version.
Namco have received and official license for MotoGP which allows you to take control of your favourite 500cc riders such as Mick Doohan, Max Biaggi and Jenny Roberts among others and race on several of the real racing tracks. MotoGP includes all the typical racing modes such as arcade, season and time trials but also allows you to select the way the bikes handle. In arcade styled handling the bikes will slide around the corners, set the handling style to simulation and putting down too much power will see the bike slide out from under you. Such is the difference between the two different styles that you will think you have two different games.
One of the most interesting modes in MotoGP is the challenge mode. In here you will have to complete certain tasks to unlock new features such as riders, teams, tracks photos and more. These challenges may require you to complete a section of racetrack within a time limit, complete the arcade game in hard mode and much more. It adds a lot more interest to the game and will keep you occupied for quite a while to unlock everything.
Actually racing the motorbikes is a joy. Don't expect to hold down the accelerator all the way around the track. Doing so will see you slam into walls so often your PS2 will blow up. Using your brakes is essential to successfully navigating the tracks. Unfortunately it's possible, even in the simulation styled racing, to hit a wall at 200km/h and get p and continue racing. Steering the motorbikes is done with the left analogue stick while there is one button each for acceleration and braking. While racing it is also possible to switch viewpoints, which includes the stomach churning first person experience of sitting on the bike. The vibration from the Dual Shock 2 controller is just perfect with moderate vibrations when taking corners and going over ripple strips or grass.
Graphically, MotoGP is one of the best games on the Playstation 2. The riders are detailed and the tracks perfectly replicated. The frame rate is rock steady throughout and the number of riders on screen is considerable. Perhaps the most impressive part of this game is the awesome replay mode. It's an absolute joy to watch, and were it not for the little "X Cancel" logo in the bottom right, you would swear you were watching the TV, albeit without commentary. My only niggle is that the graphics do suffer some jaggedness, particularly in some of the replay angles. Still, it's a minor problem that doesn't distract at all during the game.
I'll say this now. I love rave/techno/industrial music and that is exactly what you get in MotoGP. While the some of the tracks are impressive others are just too repetitive for their own good. Some people will probably hate the music and head straight for the volume controls. Fortunately, the sound effects are very impressive. The motorbikes sound fairly accurate and realistic, especially in the replay mode when they whiz past the camera. One thing that is sorely missed is commentary during the races and replay mode.
MotoGP is the best racing game on Playstation 2 to date. Even if you already own Ridge Racer V this game is so different, and much better. The racing is more realistic and the graphics are superb. The price of the game is definitely worth it, if only to watch the replay modes, nothing has ever come close. MotoGP is an awesome racing title that should be in every Playstation 2 collection.