Milestone are stuck in a rut. Year in and year out they deliver the same sort of experiences, time and time again. We’re usually plagued with the same promises prior to each release; refined gameplay and improved mechanics. Now, to be fair to Milestone, many of their games tend to range between passable and decent. However, their motorcycle games are the ones that typically leave us trailing in the dirt. Does their upcoming MXGP Pro stand out above the rest? Well, it’s certainly a notable racer if not the very best, let’s put it that way.
I’ll start by pointing out that I’m not really the type of gamer to go out of my way to try motorcycle racing games. Our very own Joe Pepek has taken the bulk of Milestone’s offerings, but this time around, I’ve been given the opportunity to give their servings a go. The game centers around the Motocross Championship and tasks players with experiencing the entirety of the MXGP as a pro. That’s everything from the MX2 to the MXGP league, meaning you’ll be taken across all of last year’s circuit tracks throughout a variety of modes.
By and large, you could say that you’re getting exactly what you would expect to receive for a game of this type. No less and certainly no more. The game wastes no time at getting you into the thick of it and to the game’s credit, MXGP Pro looks stunningly detailed. The accompanying tutorial does a good job at feeding you into the basics of play, but if you’re a casual like me, even this helping hand may be somewhat short of the mark. I seriously couldn’t help but feel totally out of my depth throughout each and every breakneck race.
I’ll get back to that in a moment. Moving back to the visuals momentarily, I can hand on heart say that this is one the best looking games to come from Milestone yet. Everything from the track design right up to the bike animations and the particle effects have been magnificently developed, ultimately relaying a sense of photo-realism in the process. The audio gets a thumbs up from me, irrespective of the quiet crowds. The bikes all sound great, as does the bike’s audio cues across all types of tracks present, bolstering that realism.
The game comes with a total of twenty one tracks and sixty one riders. There’s a small band of modes to work through, such as online racing, time attack and the traditional single-players modes; championship and career. Sadly, Milestone’s decent track editor from Monster Energy Supercross is absent, which is something I was really hoping would be included. Getting back to the gameplay, this is where I struggled to appreciate the game the most. Maybe I’m out of touch with my racers nowadays, but boy howdy is this game tough.
Players are free to race how they like via altering the game’s physics. You can opt in for something more lax through the standard physics, which will indeed give you some freedom as far as making mistake is concerned. Alternatively, you can go all-in and challenge yourselves with physics of realism, which will present you with a full on sim-like experience. Though, I personally found a challenge through both layouts. It’s not that the general gameplay is tough, but more that the controls can be tedious and tricky to master.
Despite the solid tutorial, I felt like a fish out of water for a lengthy portion of play. It took a considerable amount of time to get used to, which only becomes much more difficult to grasp when leaning on the realistic physics. The training grounds helps to alleviate this to some degree, but the learning curve is still quite steep nevertheless. Thankfully, the career’s gameplay loop is as straightforward as it needs to be, if somewhat basic. Starting out, you’re able to custom make your own career racer, manufacturer and even the jersey number.
Following on from this is the aforementioned tutorial, complete with thirty different challenges that will enable you to marginally improve your skills. I highly recommend taking up any help that the game will offer, because out in the open, there’s no room for error. When you’re confident enough to start working through MX2 to MXGP, you’ll find all the usual trimmings present; sponsors to please, challenges to fulfill and the occasional rival to better. The general rule of thumb is; the more fame you gain, the harder the game gets.
I found that when I finally gelled with the fields of play, MXGP Pro felt more open. Handling became second nature (eventually) soon after I sussed out how my bike would react on each straight stretch or narrow corner that the tracks relayed, regardless as to how floaty those pesky corners can be. It’s important to note that MXGP Pro is not an arcade racer, it’s a sim-racer through and through. With that in mind, there’s a lot that can go wrong at any given time. Turn too tightly and your ass in in the air, trade paint and, again, you’re off track.
Heck, even the jumps fall towards realism, being that you’re able to move both LS and RS to angle your position. However, if you don’t nail it perfectly – you’re face first in the dirt. It helps that the diverse selection of bikes all feel different to one another, allowing you some space to find one that’s just right for you – customization to the side, of course. The other modes included are all run of the mill and in fairness, I wouldn’t have expected anything else. This isn’t an exceptional racer by any means, but it certainly ticks the right boxes.
MXGP Pro may well be the best MXGP game to come from Milestone so far. It’s not perfect by any means, but it does provide a passable and realistic experience nevertheless. It’s a shame, then, that despite the gorgeous photo-realistic visuals and the diverse selection of tracks and riders, MXGP Pro falls somewhat flat on its play-it-safe content and its steep learning curve. This is a decent racer for sure, but it could have been much more.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.