Release Date: May 20, 2003
The original MotoGP game for the Xbox was one of many unsung Xbox games of the last year, which brought the speed and thrills of motorcycle racing along with a rich graphics engine, an immersive sound engine, and (best of all) Xbox Live support via a free addon. MotoGP 2 has been around for a little while now and right now there are two groups of people, racing fans that have played the MotoGP games and love them and racing fans that need to go out and rent them at the very least.
MotoGP 2 is essentially an updated version of the original MotoGP, with a slightly upgraded graphics and sound engine, a tweaked control setup, and an updated roster of bikes, drivers, and tracks. In essence, MotoGP takes the few flaws of the original MotoGP, fixes them, and updates the game for another year of motorcycle racing. There is more to MotoGP 2 than that however, for example the player now has a large amount of customization options to customize their bike and rider, way more than the original MotoGP, giving the player the ability to not only change the color scheme of the bikes and leathers but also the ability to add shapes and text of various colors and positions.
The meat and potatoes of MotoGP 2 remain more or less the same as the original MotoGP. There is the championship mode where you race against other motorcycle racing greats in larger and larger tournaments. The single race mode is the same, except for the fact you only race one time, on a single track. The training mode not only serves as a tutorial but also awards skill points to spend on your rider. Finally, the challenge mode has the player weaving in between cones and other obstacles, trying to not only get the best time they can but also not to crash.
Unlike its predecessor, MotoGP 2 comes out of the box with Xbox Live support. The overall “feel” of the Live aspect remains the same as the original but many noteworthy changes and alterations have been made, giving people who host channels a higher degree of control over their sometimes unruly patrons. As for the Live support itself, it works so well the only time you’ll ever hear the word “lag” is in reference to the poor guy in dead last, lagging behind the pack.
As for the graphics, look for a small picture of MotoGPs cover next to the definition of awesome in the dictionary. The tracks not only look realistic in terms of their layout, curves, and modeling, but they also accurately recreate the real life version of the track. The riders and bikes are all made of fairly high amounts of polygons and are both extremely detailed and fluidly animated. Even the bikes themselves are realistic incarnations of their real life counterparts, borrowing from many brands of motorcycles and engine sizes. MotoGP 2 also shines in the special effects department, with rain and mist spattering the windshield in the first person view, tires kicking up grass when a bike goes for a little off-roading, and the sparks and scratches when a driver loses control and pancakes his bike onto the tarmac.
The audio department isn’t quite as impressive, but is far from hideous in any regard. In fact, MotoGP 2s sounds do go far in terms of immersing the player in the racing experience. Everything from fans cheering from the stands and the pitter patter of heavy rain is represented in a realistic fashion, and of course the game has a diverse palette of motorcycle sounds such as the whines of the two and four stroke engines and the skidding noise of a bike slightly power sliding around a hairpin turn. MotoGP 2 does have a bit of professional talent and groups under its digital belt to give it a rich selection of background music to race to. If that doesn’t suffice MotoGP 2 has full support for custom soundtracks, allowing you to race to whatever music trips your trigger.
The control schemes available in MotoGP 2 can change depending on how much of a sim or arcade game you are looking for. The button layout itself is not dependent on it (although it can be changed as well) but the bike itself handles differently depending on what you set the realism settings to. A full-on arcade setup will have your casual racers easily gliding around relatively difficult turns, but a hardcore simulation setup will mean that the slightest movement can mean the difference between a perfect turn or a mouthful of gravel.
Overall, MotoGP 2 retains the playability and quality of the original game, but also brings new bread to the table in the form of new tracks, bikes, and riders, an updated array of customization options, and ever so slightly tweaked versions of the graphics, sounds, and controls. Racing fans should definitely take MotoGP 2 out for a test spin, especially the fans of the two-wheeled variety. Even casual gamers will find MotoGPs rich blend of realism and armchair gameplay appealing. To top it all off, even after the championship mode has been conquered you and your custom bike can take to the Internet and face off against other living, breathing humans worldwide. The first MotoGP was one of those few games that got nearly everything right, and MotoGP 2 picks up from there to deliver a polished sequel that will not only please fans of the original but will also appeal to anyone else with a taste for speed and a love for competition.
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