Review: MXGP – The Official Motocross Videogame (PS4)

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Title: MXGP – The Official Motocross Videogame
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (11 GB)
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: Milestone
Original MSRP: $59.99 (US), €69.99 (EU), £49.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
MXGP – The Official Motocross Videogame is also available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

I recently reviewed MX vs. ATV: Supercross on the PS3. It turned out to be a fun arcade racing game which sadly lacked content and depth. It had hurled me into the deep shallow end without so much as a tutorial or guide. Just as I finished that review, I was given another Motocross game this time for the PS4.

Gameplay:
A few moments after the game loaded up for the first time, I was treated to a quick and skippable tutorial video explaining the basic controls. I was then asked if I wanted to see the other videos, which I did, but could have easily watched them another time by going to the Multimedia section of My MXGP in the main menu. This alone was a welcome and nice feature for newcomers to the genre.

With every new racing game I like to jump into the quick or in this case, Instant Race, to see how accessible and fun it is right off the mark. The controls are excellent but take a fair degree of skill and practice to keep the rider on the vehicle the entire time. With a more realistic and less forgiving physics engine I couldn’t just hurtle into the other riders and bounce off unscathed like in MX vs. ATV: Supercross. When I leaned too far into a turn without enough throttle, gravity took over and my rider became a crumpled mess in the mud.

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I soon got a feel for the more natural controls and even crossed the line in first place. With a feast of game modes to choose from I decided to give the Career a shot after mastering the finer points of the controls and learning a few of the eighteen official tracks.

Career Mode is the largest part of the game. You guide your created character through the early days in the MX2 calendar trying to impress the other teams and your fans. Practice, Qualifying, and the two Race Days can be played or individually skipped, but doing so means you could potentially miss out on experience and fans. Each experience level unlocks various things, normally photos. Increasing the fan-base by winning races or even just showing up for a practice lap gets more teams to notice you. You’ll eventually earn the respect and attention of the official MX1 teams and your manager will get offers for a new contract. From your office you can check emails from your manager and team, read messages from fans, check out the monthly official MXGP magazine cover to see if you got your ugly mug on it, view your standings in the competition, alter the setup of your bike, and finally, select the next race to take part in.

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Learning each course is key to success in this game. How wide to take certain corners, the speed and even the angle to approach some jumps can mean the difference in staying in front of the pack. Twenty-two riders battling it out for pole position and be intense and hectic and getting in front of them as quickly as possible makes life so much easier. Otherwise you’ll be trying to weave in and out of dozens of riders all jostling for the perfect line where glancing into another bike at the wrong angle could see you both hitting the cold hard dirt.

Thankfully the computer resets the riders quickly and even allows others to drive through them so as to avoid huge pile ups every time someone takes a tumble. You’ll still get the occasional small group of unlucky riders ploughing into one another but that’s part of the fun.

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I have easily played this game for more than twenty-five hours now, more than enough to have completed this review ages ago but I couldn’t help myself, I was enjoying the Career Mode and wanted to get that little bit further before starting the review. I had taken almost ninety pictures and scribbled down loads of notes by this point and realized I was putting off writing these very words because after I was done and I’d given it a score I would move onto the next title and this game would be forgotten. It isn’t perfect and there are several things I would like to see improved but at its core this is fun. It isn’t trying to be an arcade speed driven thing of beauty, it’s a technical Motocross racing experience. You have to learn this game, not just the controls but the tracks and how the bike reacts. You need to know how far you can push the machine when going round a corner on a certain type of dirt. Yes, there are different types of dirt.

I would love the track to realistically deform with each tire spin like MX vs. ATV: Supercross does, instead of an extra mud layer which sits just above the actual track the bikes race on. The real track has far fewer ruts and grooves than the muddier layer that’s just for show. I want to adapt to the changes in the track after several laps, carving a new racing line to stay ahead of the competition. Maybe next time?

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I enjoyed the tutorials and the loading screens with their hints, quotes, and facts about the sport. I love the tracks from all over the world and love being able to use a real life rider and Motocross bike on them. It’s great being able to turn off assists and having to lean and adjust the rider and machine to dig into a turn or not fall off whilst hurtling up a steep incline, as well as making changes to the gear ratios and suspension depending on the track. Or it’s just as fun setting it on easy and having a blast round the many courses and letting the computer worry about the finer details. But I still long for the detailed rider stats, information about the courses, teams, and history of this muddy sport.

Remote Play is brilliant on the Vita, with a slightly lower amount of control due to the smaller sticks and a small caveat being a need to change the controls, unless you don’t mind using the lower right corner of the Touch Screen to accelerate. Apart from this I found the experience to be excellent. Sadly there are no preset control configurations that you can quickly choose but you can reset to defaults when you return to the PS4. Trophies are fairly easy to get with only a few for online and I had about five ping in the first few minutes of play.

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Visuals:
I am very happy to see official tracks, bikes, and riders. A deluge of sponsor paraphernalia littering the courses helps with the realism of the game, as does the environmental lighting. I mentioned creating a character earlier on but neglected to delve into the details, mainly because it’s a nice feature but purely visual and offers no gameplay changes, like stat building. This, however, helps in keeping the game balanced especially as you can use your character in the online modes.

You can change almost everything about your created character: their name, nationality, even the font and color of the text on the riders back. But sadly you cannot change the facial features of the rider or take a picture using the PS4 camera, instead you just choose from a small selection of random photos.

Regardless of whether you use your own character or an official one they look great during the race. Paired together with a very detailed Motocross bike, you can achieve some great looking still photos in the Pause menu or whilst watching a replay. Both rider and motorbike get dirtier with every lap of the course, although this does depend on the dirt type. A harder, dry dirt that’s been baking in the summer sun won’t stick as easily as some good old Great British mud. Man and machine are the best looking part of this game. This is followed closely by the sheer amount of assets scattered around the course, from people to vehicles, TV cameras to trees. It’s impressive to see but the detail, when viewed up close in the spectators and track, drag the overall visual standard back.

You can use the helmet camera view during races which I found to be a little to realistic for my liking especially when landing since the view would shift down a bit too much, meaning I couldn’t see the track ahead briefly. The DualShock 4 Light Bar flashes from green to red depending on the rev counter, which means it flashes almost continuously during races. This could be an annoying feature for some but I barely noticed it.

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Audio:
With only one music track accompanying the main menu, the game relies on the roar of the engines and crowd to fill your ears with the atmosphere of a race event. The sound of air horns and cheers reverberate across the dirt track. Unless of course you have the USB music player or Music Unlimited playing your own tracks to drown out the ambient sounds, which is always an option.

Online/Multiplayer:
There are two main categories here with the first being the Online Season. This pits you against random online opponents to race on a random track. Depending on your final position you are awarded points allowing you to rank up. Each time I tried this mode it took a long while to get even one or two opponents and then ages to get into an actual race. Any spare places are filled with AI. This mode is my least favorite.

The second category is Online Races which consist of Quick Match, Search (which can be useful in finding a popular lobby or certain tracks), Create Match which allows you to set the mode, class, race length, collisions, and much more. You can even peruse the leaderboards of each class, track, friends, global, etc. It tells you their online ID, physics setup, bike, and obviously their time.

My time with the online was okay, nothing spectacular but enjoyable. If it didn’t take such a long time to get into an actual race I would have probably spent more time in this mode.

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Conclusion:
MXGP – The Official Motocross Videogame is my favorite in the genre, admittedly I’ve only played one other but this easily achieves so much more. It has some much needed tutorials for the newbies out there, an adequate degree of technicality to keep the races engaging and exciting, and real riders and machines traversing authentic tracks. There’s also a nice helping hand with the assists for casual or beginners and a good online mode along with some great graphics that sadly get marred by the finer details. Unfortunately, the excellent physics and rider control get let down by the lack of any track deformation.

Overall this is a fun and authentic Motocross race experience that easily provides loads of enjoyment. It has a good amount of content and depth for anyone wanting to take the plunge into this exciting sport.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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  • London Rhodes

    I really hope Josh reads this. I’m loving the amount of reviews that are coming out of psnation! So many games, so many genres.

    • Well I edit every single review and then post it, so yes, I’ve read this 😉

  • Sounds like my type of game. I’ll definitely give this a try when the price drops.
    Chazz, did you ever play a game called Pure on 360/PS3? If so would you say this plays similarly?

    • ChazzH69

      MXGP is more technical and aims for realism. While Pure felt like an arcade racer. I could Shareplay it if you like?

      • That would be awesome, thanks! Ah, the glorious age of technology we live in.

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