MotoGP 08 Preview
While most will invariably turn to Gran Turismo to get their simulated racing fix, the fastest vehicles on two wheels can draw in an entirely new sort of fan. Those who follow the championship motorcycle circuit know those guys put it on the line each and every day, and at absolutely insane speeds. Therefore, shouldn’t we have the virtual equivalent? Yes, it’s the long-running MotoGP franchise to save the day, and while the quality has been a touch erratic over the past few years (perhaps due to the continually changing developer role), these titles are often great options for Moto enthusiasts. And this year, we’ve got two pieces of good news: first, Capcom has signed on to handle the series for the next five years, so this constancy should allow the team to make increasingly better installments. Secondly, MotoGP 08 is shaping up to be the next-gen entry we’ve all been waiting for.
If you’re not familiar with these games, you may be a bit surprised at the inherent difficulty often involved. See, staying erect on a crotch rocket is a whole lot more difficult than the professionals make it look, and with the Simulated option in these games, you can learn all about it. This is why you’ll want to spend some time getting used to the controls and your precarious position when racing, so this is one instance where the Practice mode should come in very handy. You will have the standard options of Practice, Quick Race and Championship, and as you progress, you can work your way through the 125cc, 250cc and GP Classes. There’s no doubt that a wide variety of manufacturers will be included as well; even though we don’t yet have an official list, we’re expecting Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, and more. Obviously, as is the case with cars, each bike will have its strengths and weaknesses, and you can combine this with your own skills on the track. But wait…you can’t just jump into the Championship mode without proving yourself first.
For example, you won’t have to select an established real-life rider when you kick off the career-like mode – you can create your own racer – but you will have to earn your way onto a racing team. If you want in with the Ducati boys, for instance, you have to earn 1100 points, and it’s going to take more than a little ol’ qualifying race to net the required number. It may sound tough but then again, this is probably a good way of going about proceeding. As we just mentioned, it might take some time before you feel comfortable on the track, and considering this is a simulator, it would make zero sense if a pro racing team immediately accepted your freshly created racer. Sorry, you can only get ahead in this world by proving your ability, and upon succeeding, you will be ushered into a group that consists of the world’s elite riders. We’re not sure if there will be the equivalent of GT’s license tests in MotoGP 08, but we do recall similar requirements in past entries in the series. Here, it’s all about cornering; don’t come in too quickly, make sure to stick to the inside, and for God’s sake, don’t fall off!
Lastly, not only will you be able to experiment with any number of the mechanical upgrades, but you’ll have to choose between four different areas of bike performance so choose carefully! After all your hard work obtaining points, why throw it all away by upping the speed of your bike when you can’t take a corner to save your life? On top of which, with as many as 35 bikes on the track in any official championship race, and with four different AI levels, you really need to pay attention to your opponent’s ability. Heading into a sharp turn with a dozen other racers can be a surprisingly intimidating experience, and there’s a tremendous difference between simple Arcade mode, the regularly challenging Intermediate mode, or the ultra-taxing Simulation. Oh, and we should also be receiving quite the robust online service, too; up to 12 players will be able to enter a race! Of course, we would strongly advise you to work your way up into the GP Class before trying to take on the world’s best; only the most skilled will conquer the online world in any game.
MotoGP 08 is looking quite good right now, and it’s not that far off. It’s scheduled to arrive for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 6, and if you’re looking for a top-notch simulator, you should consider a purchase. Just remember, you’ll have to make a little adjustment if you’re not used to racing motorcycles, even if it is a virtual recreation of the real thing. Good luck!
8/25/2008 Ben Dutka