I-Play’s super bike racer offers up all of the official Moto GP licensed tracks and riders, but none of the excitement and passion…
While it may play second fiddle to Formula One in mainstream sport, the Moto GP (the F1 of super bikes) still has a loyal following among petrol heads. On consoles this generally translates as a video game offering up pristine visuals and realistic bike handling. Perhaps not a balls to the wall arcade racing experience, but one that replicates the real sport as close as possible.
I-Play have got their hands on the license for iPhone and iPod Touch this year, but without the backing of the larger studios of Namco and THQ, they fail to create a game that lives up to its console reputation.
As I said in the opening sentence, the game does feature all 18 of the 2010 tracks, and the roster of riders, including the untouchable Valentino Rossi (think the Michael Schumacher of Moto GP). However, the gameplay isn’t really up to scratch. Racing is the upmost importance of any motorsport game, whether its computer AI or a multiplayer opponent, you must experience a feeling of competition. Moto GP fails in this respect by offering AI that feels about two classes below you, and never really offers any threat. The game features both qualifying and race day rounds but the qualifying session is unnecessary here. Usually, a riders qualifying position would dictate their race day outcome, but here you can be right at the back of the pack, yet be leading the race after only the first bend. This is because not only does your bike seem faster than everyone else’s, but it’s also equipped with a super boost (surely illegal in Moto GP). Yes, it does add speed and fun to the game, but at the cost of throwing the race out of the window. In all 18 of the tracks I never failed to come first, in fact I was over 100 points clear of the leader just halfway through the season.
It’s a shame too, because apart from the boost, the controls are pretty good. The tilt steering is solid, the auto acceleration accurate, and the braking balanced. However, the boost not only gives you an unfair advantage of speed, but also improves your steering. When you should be breaking before a turn, you can actually boost into the corner, and come out the other side unscathed. In the unlikely event that you will become tangled up in the trackside barriers, a few choice boosts and you’ll back at the front. In fact I was down by three places on the final straight, and thanks to my boost (which is unlimited if you tap it instead of holding), I overtook the leaders in a matter of seconds to cross the line victorious.
After completing the championship on novice (with no fan-fair), the game unlocks Professional mode. Here, races last an extra lap (3 instead of 2) and the competition does ramp up slightly. Having said that, I still had no problem winning a race thanks to my trusty boost friend. Perhaps this game would work better against a human opponent, but alas, multiplayer is absent altogether.
Graphically the game is a mixed bag. Kudos to the art team for replicating all 18 tracks accurately, and the game for the most part runs well with a good sense of speed. But, when compared to other racers out there, it looks 1st generation AppStore at best. Muddy textures and low polygons give the game an amateur production look and feel, in keeping with something you’d get from a lone independent, and not from a larger iPhone studio with some experience under their belts such as I-Play. Sound isn’t great either, the engine noises are inconsistent, appearing and disappearing at will.
Moto GP then is a flawed game, there could have been promise here with a few more months of testing. But ultimately it’s seemingly low budget shines through, offering nothing like the experience you can get on the consoles. Yes, it’s a fraction of the price of those games. But, us iPhone gamers still expect quality with official licenses. If you are a Moto GP fan, then you might squeeze some fun boosting around the tracks… just don’t expect a race!