MotoGP Ultimate Racing Technology (PC)
Two-wheeled racing games have a rather mixed history. Unlike their four-wheeled counterparts which always seem to have a Rally title or a Formula 1 simulation to point to as their shining example; bike games, in recent times have at best been average. At last we have a breakthrough from all the mediocrity of recent times and in Moto GP - Ultimate Racing Technology we have a game that is one of the finest two wheeled racers of all time.
The game is based on the Moto GP season for 2001 and contains all the riders and bikes from that season. There are 10 wonderful circuits to race from including Le Mans and Suzuka. No expense has been spared in recreating the look and feel of the Moto GP season and from the texture on the track to the glorious thunderstorms that sometimes occur, the whole game smacks of excellence.
There are 6 gameplay modes. There's Quick Race, Arcade Championship, Grand Prix Series, Training, Time Trial and Multiplayer. Quick Race is rather self explanatory pick a rider, pick a circuit and race in a one off race. Arcade Championship is a superb diversion from the simulative Grand Prix Series. In the Arcade Championship you race the whole 10 circuits and pick up points for completing clean sections of the track (clean means not coming off the track) performing wheelies, endos and other skilful moves as well as earning points for your final position. Like all arcade racers this mode requires you to make it to sections of the track within a certain time limit. Racing through all the circuits unlocks them and makes them playable in any mode. The points that you earn will unlock special features which we will talk about later.
The Grand Prix Series is the heart of the game and gives you the chance to play through a full season with practice and qualification before the race. You participate in the Grand Prix Series with a custom rider. Each rider has four statistics. These are cornering, braking, top speed, and acceleration. When you create your custom rider you begin with only weak values for each of the statistics. Completing each part of the training earns you skill points, each part has a silver and gold variation with the gold variation being slightly more difficult but awarding more skill points, that can be assigned to any one of the statistics. This is an ingenious system that encourages you to take part in the training as it gives you more chance of succeeding at Grand Prix level. The training is also useful and teaches you all the techniques that you will need to win at the higher difficulty levels.
The Time Trial is another self explanatory mode in which you drive around your chosen circuit attempting to beat your best lap with the opposition being a ghost rider performing your best lap. Multiplayer offers either split screen racing or network play, LAN or Internet, with a possible 16 people taking part. You can even have AI drivers to make up the numbers, if you wish, should there only be a couple of you in the race.
The special features that can be unlocked in Arcade Championship mode are wonderful. They range from extra riders to graphical alterations for the races. Sketch, Toon and Emboss all add graphical filters to the race and look superb. Only one of these is useless to the deaf gamer because it replaces the noise of the motorcycle engine with a 'brrrr ding ding ding' noise that a child would make if he/she was pretending to be on a motorcycle.
Visually the game looks sumptuous. Track textures, weather effects and animations are all first rate and providing you have the appropriate hardware in your PC the game looks every bit as good as the XBOX version, maybe a touch better given that you can crank up the screen resolution. The game moves along at a cracking frame rate, even with all the bikes onscreen at one time.
There are no problems with Moto GP for deaf gamers. The training is all given in text. There is no commentary in the races or verbal information. The only thing which should have been subtitled is the introduction FMVs that you get when you take place in the Grand Prix Series. If you go to Suzuka for instance there will be a short FMV telling you about the track and it's location. It should have been subtitled but in truth has no bearing on the game.
If I had to pick a fault with MotoGP on the PC then I would say that PC gamepads are not as satisfying as the XBOX controller when it comes to force feedback and the quality of the analogue sticks. The controls can be configured in any manner you see fit but personally I suggest that you own a decent gamepad with analogue control to get the best experience.
Moto GP is almost certainly the best two-wheeled racer that there has ever been. The game just feels so right. I tried a few laps using the first person view and as far as I can remember, from my time on a motorcycle, it felt spot on. Even if you don't usually go for two-wheeled racers I urge you to give this one a try, it will have you hooked in no time.
Overall Game Rating: 9.2/10 Moto GP - Ultimate Racing Technology is almost certainly the best motorcycle game ever.
Deaf Gamers comment: Subtitling is missing from the FMV clips but otherwise the game is brilliant for deaf gamers.