Start your engines!
Motorbike racing is pretty exciting. Where else can you find drivers scraping their knees to go around a corner? The speed and danger of the sport is perfect viewing while the skill needed to control a bike means only the best can be good enough to enter something as prestigious as Moto GP. So with all this excitement and skill you’d think Moto GP would make a great game.
Moto GP on the iPhone, however, has chosen to focus on the arcade side of things. It’s fully tilt controlled, left and right banks your bike while the acceleration is automatic. Only a brake on the left and a boost button on the right require touch control.
Turning takes time to master, the controls are pretty loose and leaning at the wrong time or too much to one side will have you off the road quicker than you can blink. Trying to play the game on a wobbly bus was near impossible, but sat down with it over 20 minutes I was able to keep the bike glued to the road. The trick is to brake at the right time, but instead of pressing the brake, as with other racing games, it works best if you tap it to slow down.
Boost comes in handy if you do fall off. None of the other riders seem to use it, so utilising it well will see you get to the front of the pack pretty quickly. Overdoing boost will burn it out for about 10 seconds, but you can still get to 99% of your limit and wait a second or two then start again, giving you unlimited boost. A better system would have been to have a limited supply with the ability to upgrade your bike as the season progressed.
It’s here that Moto GP leans too far over and falls off the track in a heap. Boosting techniques will see you get to the front even if you’re so far behind that the other drivers have nearly lapped you. The three difficulty levels (Rookie, Pro and Legend) have very little effect on this, the other riders do seem a bit better at trying to pass you but the boost is still king. I managed to make my way through a complete championship season without any problems and I’m certainly not the world’s best racer.
Starting off with a bike that allows you to pass everyone isn’t really ideal either. The game would have benefitted greatly from having an upgrade system where you start off with a basic bike and a set amount of money and then win further money from races to improve the bike (along with buying extended boost from a set amount).
The only modes of play on offer here are a Championship, gaining points from qualifying and winning races across all of the tracks, or a quick race. Both allow you to choose the difficulty and driver, though you won’t find much difference between them. There are no multiplayer options, not even local multiplayer which would have improved the challenge, but you do get photos of Moto GP races to unlock as you complete races and trophies for certain objectives such as passing 3 bikes in a row.
Presentation, however, is where Moto GP does score points. The menus and intro go some way to making this product look pretty polished. In-game visuals are pretty nice too, tracks are presented with a good level of detail with trees and barriers rushing past. The riders a recognisable and even the draw distance is impressive. All of which makes it even more of a shame that the game itself is lacking.
I’m hoping that the developers will eventually provide updates for the game, it certainly has the graphics and substance to make it a classic racer on the iPhone. With a multiplayer, bike customisation and a rethink of the boost system I could see Moto GP being a top racing title. As it stands it’s still a fun arcade game for Moto GP fans, but offers little challenge or replay value once completed.
- Sound: 7
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 6
- Longevity: 5
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