MXGP 2: The Official Motocross Videogame is a Motocross simulation racing game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Milestone has a great pedigree of not only developing great racing games, but priding themselves on the authenticity of the racing experience which is what has forged their history of exceptional sports racing games as the Italian passion of motorsports radiates from their games in the home of Ferrari, although they have been especially prolific with multiple iterations throughout various forms of motorbike racing from SBK to MotoGP to Motocross, but how does Milestone’s latest offering in their MXGP series stack up in comparison to what has went before it?
MXGP 2 features all of the official licenses for the 2015 season which comprises of 18 tracks situated in various locations around the world including: Losail, Qatar; Nakhochaisri, Thailand; Neuquen, Argentina; Pietramurata, Italy; Valkenswaard, Netherlands; Talavera de la Reina, Spain; Matterley Basin, Great Britain; Villars sous Ecot, France; Maggiora, Italy; Teutschenthal, Germany; Uddevalla, Sweden; Kegums, Latvia; Loket, Czech Republic; Lommel, Belgium; Mantua, Italy; Assen, Netherlands; Leon, Mexico; and Glen Helen, USA with four more tracks than MXGP 2’s predecessor and the majority of the 18 tracks never having featured in MXGP on PS3. There are 63 professional riders with each of their respective bikes and teams such as Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, Red Bull KTM, Suzuki, TM Racing and Yamaha with their respective specifications of MX1 and MX2 bikes.
The game begins with a voice-over of your personal manager telling you how happy he is to be working with you, accompanied by some rider customisation which allows you to customise your rider licence from your rider’s personal data including their first name, surname, nickname, racing number, 6 font styles, 3 skin colours and nationality. The next major steps include choosing a manufacturer such as Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, TM Racing, Yamaha and Husqvarna, followed by creating a team name, selecting a logo from the available 10 pre-set logos, choosing a portrait photo from a pre-set of 12 personal managers and 11 team managers. Further rider customisation is available including two separate default outfits which you can customise to your liking comprising of 14 manufacturers of helmets, 10 suppliers of goggles, 10 manufacturers of racing suits, 9 suppliers of boots and 3 manufacturers of neck braces with each manufacturer or supplier of equipment having their own range of designs to choose from costing varying prices for each type of racing gear. Bike customisation covers the MXGP and MX2 categories with the ability to purchase four new bikes from all seven manufacturers in both categories for differing prices.
The MXGP feature comprises Grand Prix, Championship and Time Attack modes with Grand Prix mode providing the opportunity of racing on a single track with the ability to have a single race, double race, qualifying and races or a full race weekend in a race against 21 opponents. When you select the Grand Prix mode; you can choose the MX category you prefer between MX1 and MX2, were you can choose from any of the official riders from your preferred MX category or alternatively select your custom rider, while you can also select a particular bike and team of your preference, alongside any of the eighteen tracks and retaining the freedom to adjust the race length from three to twenty laps, A.I. difficulty, physics, riding assists and the amount of rewinds to your ideal preferences.
The Championship mode allows you to create your own championship season comprising of races against 21 opponents which is customisable to your preferences as the championship will be the 18 race calendar of the MXGP season, although you can customise the race calendar to a minimum of 4 races and a maximum of 18 races comprising of repeating your favourite tracks anywhere amongst the calendar as many times as you wish within a championship season with the same riders, bikes, teams, race options and riding aids as the Grand Prix mode.
The Time Attack mode provides you with the opportunity to set the best lap time around any of the 18 tracks in an attempt to climb the leaderboards of the fastest times as you compete against players from across the world to see who performs the best lap time in a one lap scenario, although you can complete as many laps as you wish with a full selection of riders, bikes and teams from MX1 and MX2 categories or your custom rider, while you can also customise riding aids to your ideal preferences.
Career mode features both categories of bikes including MX1 and MX2 and sees you attempting to progress from wild card to pro. MX2 is the lowest category and this is where you will start off competing against young riders as you attempt to prove yourself worthy of racing against the veterans of Motocross in the MX1 category. You will initially have three sponsorship offers that afford you the funding to be able to travel and compete in races in your own private team with the same quality of sponsor reward that are all looking to sponsor a rider that can battle amongst the mid-table standings. In between every race weekend you will be able to read your e-mails from your personal manager and team manager providing various advice for the season and races ahead, alongside the percentage of interest that other teams possess in wanting to sign you to ride for their MX1 or MX2 team or sponsors wanting to provide sponsorship for your independent team. You can also customise your rider, bike and team appearance; view the upcoming races on the calendar; view the current points standings and check out the front cover for the latest edition of the MXGP Mag.
Your first season in MXGP will see you participating for a trial period as a wild card rider in the MX2 category for two race weekends comprising of a practice session, qualifying session and two races with the first race weekend at Maggiora, Italy and the second race weekend at Teutschenthal, Germany. When the trial period has been completed; you will face the tough decision of remaining an independent team supported by whatever sponsorship can be secured or to look for an offer from an already established MX2 team for the full season up ahead. The second season is technically your first complete season in the MX2 category of Motocross as the first season was only a trial period, so whereas the first season only had two race weekends; the second season is a complete season with eighteen race weekends each consisting of a practice session, qualifying session and two races that will see you racing on a global stage. Your second season is of arguably greater importance than the trial period of the first season; as it will provide you with multiple opportunities to join a team in the MX1 category to establish yourself in amongst the Motocross elite during your third season, although you will always have the support and advice of your personal manager and team manager throughout all of the events that shape the season.
A new feature introduced to the MXGP series is MXON which sees riders from around the world teaming up in groups of three per team to represent a total of 23 nationalities with three races taking place on each track across a total of six tracks including Ernee, France; Glen Helen, USA; Maggiora, Italy; Keguns, Latvia; Teutschenthal, Germany; and Lommel, Belgium. Each track has an MXGP and MX2 combined category in which MX1 and MX2 bikes can compete in the same race as well as an MX2 Open category that is only for MX2 bikes and an MXGP Open category which is only available for MX1 bikes. The points system is worked differently by combining the positions of two riders from the same nationality, therefore two riders finishing a race in third and seventh position will have ten points; resulting in each rider and nationality racing for the smallest amount of points to represent positive finishing positions, although in a further stipulation the worst result across the three races from each nationality will be removed which is a positive as it increases the chances of any nationality winning the three race event per track as it does not mean that a single collision could cost the nationality you are representing the event.
A new inclusion to the MXGP series is the Stadium Series which allows players to compete against 21 riders across four stadiums including two football arenas and two diamond stadiums on a single track in Grand Prix mode or customise a championship from the four stadiums lasting between 4 and 18 events in duration with the ability to have a single race, double race, qualifying and races or a full race weekend, while a Time Attack mode is also available with online leaderboards for each of the four stadiums with the same riders, bikes, teams, race options and riding aids as the other game modes.
A further introduced feature is the Real Events mode which provides a total of 19 real-life scenarios from the MX1 or MX2 category with only two scenarios initially being available until they have been successfully passed resulting in the following two scenarios being unlocked. The scenarios include Ryan Villopoto’s Kawasaki not starting which drops him back from the pack in which the outcome must be changed by not only catching up to the pack but also finishing ahead of Antonio Cairoli, while a further scenario sees Maxilian Nagl go long on the first bend and crashes with Antonio Cairoli resulting in Cairoli dropping to eleventh position but mounts a comeback to finish fifth which you have to replicate by finishing in at least fifth position; and many more scenarios besides. The story of each scenario is brought to life with video of the race to tell the story from the 2015 MXGP season in which you must replicate or change what happened.
Yet another new gameplay mechanic is Test Track; arguably an area where you should start riding a bike as it provides players with two tracks including a Cross Track and Short Track for the purpose of becoming familiar with the handling, bumps, track surfaces and more besides which players can roam freely or timed for as many laps as you prefer and the ability to choose from a full selection of riders, bikes and teams from MX1 and MX2 categories or your custom rider as well as adjusting the physics, riding assists and the amount of rewinds to your ideal preferences.
A core gameplay mechanic has been overhauled in comparison to the original MXGP game as instead of earning fans to increase your fan base; you are now rewarded with in-game currency known as credits which is earned for positioning in practice, qualifying and both races in every race weekend, achieving team objectives, defeating an opposing rider in a rider challenge, achieving a holeshot in races and an A.I. difficulty bonus for competing with a harder difficulty level which collectively provides valuable funds for upgrading your bikes and even buying new bikes. A further important gameplay mechanic is reputation points which are earned by the race weekend position, achieving team objectives, winning the rider challenge and achieving a holeshot in races which is all important as the higher amount of reputation points accumulated will result in an increase in the interest received by sponsors and teams, therefore you have to earn the next step up in your career with better results rather than it just being handed to you automatically for completing a season.
Every track surface regardless of if it is hard pack, intermediate or sand features a strong amount of track deformation which is brought about by the tires carving a path through the dirt and mud and with a total of 22 bikes producing those tire tracks; it is only a matter of time before the track feels completely different to when the race had started. The difference in the track is due to the dispersal of the dirt and mud being flicked up in the process of the tire tracks being embedded into the mud; potentially affecting the grip and traction of the bike resulting in you having to change your approach to the optimal racing line. The evolution of the track surface is very realistic, but unfortunately there is no dynamic weather system, which reduces the potential of further track evolution as there are no wet weather conditions to change the density of the mud and the surrounding track surface.
There are four slots available in your garage to purchase and store customised bikes from each manufacturer in both categories, although there is only a single slot for a bike available from each manufacturer at first with the second becoming available after you have purchased the first for 10,000 credits and so on for each new slot in the garage of each new manufacturer. Motocross bikes are split into MX1 and MX2 categories with the MX1 category being the more prominent and faster class of bikes in comparison to the MX2 category. The technical specifications of the MX1 category bikes range from 175cc up to 250cc for 2-stroke engines and 290cc up to 450cc for 4-stroke engines, while the MX2 category bikes range from 100cc up to 125cc for 2-stroke engines and 175cc up to 250cc for 4-stroke engines. Every bike offers varying attributes including acceleration, braking power, speed and handling which can all be customised. The bike customisation is reminiscent to that of the original Gran Turismo as you start off with the basic form of the bike and progressively improve the performance via a variety of categories including exhaust; rims; suspension; brake discs; and tyres, alongside visual changes that do not enhance performance including a graphic kit; handlebar; bar pad; hand grips; hand guards; and adjusting accessory colours, while every category has multiple brands providing their components at various qualities which can be upgraded with in-game currency which is earned by completing races as high up the field as possible. The initial quality of a component is usually between 5 to 7 gradually improving towards the maximum quality of 10; for instance the stock exhaust for the Yamaha YZ250F in the MX2 category includes an acceleration of 7.6 and a speed of 7.2, while the Akrapovic brand upgrade enhances both acceleration and speed to 9.6 for a cost of 4,000 credits.
You can change the setup of your bike in the pits which can potentially provide a significant performance advantage if you experiment enough in an attempt to absolutely perfect your bike setup for each track. The bike setup is spread across two categories including suspension and transmission with each category having various settings such as the ability to change the preload, spring stiffness, compression damping and rebound damping for the front and rear of the bike; as well as selecting a low, medium or high gear ratio. There are also options to save, load or delete your preferred bike setups and to return your bike setup to the default factory settings.
There are unfortunately only two camera angles with one providing a first-person perspective of the action from the front of the rider’s crash helmet, while the other camera angle is positioned directly behind the rider for a third-person perspective. You can re-position the third-person camera angle for it to be further away from the bike with a slide bar from the options menu that when compared to the default setting, allows you to have it twenty clicks further back from the rider to customise a third-person perspective that is suited to your preferences.
The free camera from the pause menu allows you to observe the closer details of the racing and the finer background details in more thorough detail, although it unfortunately does not contain a photo mode which is surprising as the photo mode contained within the free camera feature in MXGP on PS3 allowed players to catch some great shots of some of the amazing scenery and racing action, although the free camera works rather well with the PS4’s share feature.
You can watch a full race replay with the ability to watch in slow motion, pause, fast forward, rewind, change the camera angles for a different view of the action and to view the action from the previous or next rider, restart the replay as well as the ability to enter the free camera feature. You can view the replay from 5 camera angles with the third-person camera positioned behind the rider to provide a view of the bike and the track surface up ahead amongst the surrounding environments, while there are three positioned around the rider’s crash helmet with the first classed as a first-person perspective but appears to be mounted to the front of the rider’s crash helmet showing the front of the bike with the rider’s hands gripping the handlebars, a second camera is mounted to the back of the crash helmet looking ahead and a third crash helmet camera is quite different from the previous two as the camera is positioned on the side of the helmet and shows more of the bike and handle bars, but the common thread between both helmet cameras is that they all show the high amounts of vibration the bike and rider are having to endure, alongside the amount of head movement that causes as you ride over the terrain; and a dynamic camera angle positioned away from the bike with the TV camera angle changing from camera to camera in the style of Gran Turismo. It would be great to see some of these camera angles make the transition from replays to gameplay such as the additional two crash helmet mounted camera angles and the Gran Turismo style dynamic TV coverage; as they are that good and would further complement the immersion within the authenticity of the racing experience.
The extras feature includes a breakdown of your offline stats including your rider’s overall distance covered; the amount of air your rider has accumulated while jumping; your overall amount of time spent playing; the amount of times your rider has fell from his bike; the amount of holeshots you have achieved; the amount of race victories, second place finishes and third place finishes; the amount of Grand Prix wins, second place finishes and third place finishes; the amount of completed races; and the amount of pole positions. A further major inclusion for the extras feature is tutorial videos which provide the opportunity of watching five detailed and extremely helpful videos presenting a detailed step-by-step guide on engaging the clutch; turning techniques; jumping techniques; controlling the positioning of your bike in the air; and how to perfect your scrubbing technique before hitting the track for the first time.
There are multiple downloadable content packs available including the Cairoli and Villopoto’s replica equipment and three MXGP official championship historic tracks, while also being available as part of a season pass to effectively pre-order each of the content packs at a cheaper bundled price of £7.99.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller and are almost fully customisable. The default control scheme consists of pressing R2 to accelerate; pressing L2 to use the front brake or reverse; pressing L1 to use the clutch; pressing R1 to rewind the action following a collision or a general loss of track time; pressing X to use the rear brake; pressing triangle to look back behind your bike; pressing O to manually shift up a gear; pressing square to manually shift down a gear; moving the direction of the left analogue stick to the left or right to steer your bike in that direction; moving the direction of the right analogue stick forwards, backwards, left or right to appropriately distribute your rider’s weight; pressing left or right on the d-pad to look to the left or right respectively; pressing down on the d-pad to respawn on track following a crash or loss of direction; pressing R3 to chat in online multiplayer; pressing L3 to view chat status in online multiplayer; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.
Despite the customisable control scheme; there is no way of mapping the steering to the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality and the touch pad can only be mapped to once instead of the left and right sides having their own purpose. It is surprising as the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality could have provided an alternative steering method to the left analogue stick, while the touch pad implementation is under utilised as it only changes the camera angle, whereas an optional control scheme from MotoGP 13 on Vita included tapping the appropriate side of the rear touch pad to shift up or down a gear. There is a lot of vibration from the DualShock 4 controller which certainly adds to the immersion of riding over the terrain as the controller will vibrate during sharp turns, upon landing after a large jump with plenty of air and even during crashes with your rider falling off his bike or collisions with other bikes. The light bar produces a variety of bright shades of colours such as white for a neutral gear followed by green and yellow during the progression through each specific gear and a light orange to show that a gear shift is imminent which can quickly become a dark orange to signify that the current gear is revving on the limiter, therefore informing that the next gear should be quickly selected.
Graphically, MXGP 2 is a step up in comparison to MXGP on PS3 with much improved lighting and shadows which are best shown off at the night race in Losail, Qatar, while the trackside details have noticeably increased especially in the far distance including a larger, more excitable crowd with more flags and banners being waved in support of their favourite riders and teams as well as further enhancements to the deformable track surface which sees mud flicked up from the surface as bikes carve grooves into the track which makes the surface progressively evolve which is all achieved as a serious sense of speed and appropriate cornering angles are maintained in 1080p that provides a natural graphical improvement over the 720p resolution produced by MXGP on PS3.
MXGP 2 certainly boasts slick and polished presentation that is very appropriate to the subject matter and nature of the game, thanks to the showcasing of the world’s best Motocross bikes and riders in dramatic slow motion to the right of the menu screens with a deformed track surface showing plenty of tire tracks in the background with seamless integration between all of the menu screens. The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, MXGP menus, Career menu, MXON menu, Stadium Series menu, Real Events menu, Test Track menu, online multiplayer menus, online leaderboards, customise menus, extras menus, options menu and various gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons on the DualShock 4 controller. There are pre-race videos dedicated to each particular race with footage from previous races at that particular track and the local surroundings which really provide an important build-up to the race to get your excitement and adrenaline flowing for the race that is just ahead of you. The loading screens are just as good in their presentation as the menus as they contain the track logo, track name, track length, ground type and circuit layout of the track you are about to race on.
The sound effects play an essential part of the experience as you hear revving of the bike engines, applying brakes, heavy landings after large jumps and crashes, accompanied by an atmospheric crowd with air horns, gasps and applause in appreciation of the riders during the build-up to each session and throughout each session as the riders are on track. The voice-over is that of your personal manager who guides you through your career, introduces game modes, gameplay elements and more besides, although there is unfortunately no pre-session, session or post-session commentary, alongside a heavily rock influenced soundtrack. There is surprisingly no DualShock 4 speaker implementation, although it could have produced any layer of audio such as bike engines, collisions, voice-overs of communication from management, ambient sounds or even music.
The trophy list includes 42 trophies with 24 bronze trophies, 14 silver trophies, 3 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The majority of the trophies are based upon skill as you are required to win races across various scenarios such as 18 bronze trophies for winning at all 18 tracks in Career mode; 4 bronze trophies for winning a race at two football arenas and two diamond stadiums; 7 silver trophies for winning a race in any game mode with each manufacturer; and more besides. There are only two online multiplayer trophies which do not require any grinding as the One Race, One World bronze trophy is simply for completing your first online race and One Championship, One World silver trophy for completing an online championship which can be customised for a short length. The hardest trophies include the Challenge Accepted silver trophy for winning a race with pro physics in any game mode; the Nothing Is Impossible gold trophy for winning all the real events; and the World Championship gold trophy for becoming MXGP world champion in Career mode. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 20 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are four difficulty levels including easy, medium, hard and realistic with the major differences between difficulty levels being the A.I. will become gradually more clinical with each step up in difficulty as they will wait for an appropriate overtaking opportunity and capitalise on any mistake you make. There are further factors involved in the difficulty level besides the A.I. as there are three physics settings including base, medium and pro which increases the corresponding difficulty curve of the game as the three physics settings each provide totally different handling. The base physics feel more arcade oriented with a lower chance of crashing when you have become accustomed to the handling and jumps, while the medium physics strikes a balance between base and pro physics as the pro physics are far more realistic and fully depend upon you perfecting the weight distribution of your rider throughout every corner and jump of the track, although the rewind mechanic can reduce the difficulty by having 9 opportunities to rewind back to before a crash actually occurred. Between the four difficulty levels, three physics settings and plenty of riding assists which can be turned on or off; players have full customisation over the degree of challenge they wish to encounter in any game mode.
The performance during online multiplayer is just as good as single player with the same sense of speed, graphics, up to 12 players and the capability of A.I. fleshing out the field. The search match game mode provides a quick and efficient way of searching for the online gaming environment that best matches your preferred settings or you can alternatively utilise the create match mode to implement your preferences including the length of the game mode such as a Grand Prix, Championship, Stadium Series Grand Prix, Stadium Series Championship or MXON race with the additional options of the category of event comprising of MX1 and MX2 bikes; the physics from a free choice for each player to a set base, medium or pro physics; the race length from three to twenty laps and the number of races for a Championship from four to eighteen races; the option of a qualifying session; track selection policies for random selection or voting; the difficulty of A.I. controlled opponents or no A.I.; collisions; privacy settings for having an open or private lobby; and the inclusion of downloadable content. If you have very limited time, none of those options matter to you and you do not want to create your own match, then you can just leave the options on their default settings and search for a match with a simple press of the X button or attempt to find a match as quickly as possible via the quick match mode.
There is no split-screen multiplayer which is disappointing as that would have been a natural improvement of the multiplayer component in comparison to the previous MXGP on PS3 and PS4 by implementing all of the online multiplayer content into a comprehensive split-screen multiplayer feature for two players locally which would have genuinely excelled the game, although it is important to take note that it is not an unrealistic addition given that MotoGP 15 has split-screen multiplayer for two players.
The replayability of MXGP 2 is quite significant due to the quantity of content spread across numerous official licenses and game modes including Grand Prix, Championship, Time Attack, Career, MXON, Stadium Series, Real Events and Test Track modes in single player, while competitive online multiplayer and online leaderboards, accompanied by extensive bike customisation as well as difficulty levels, physics settings, various customisation settings and the unpredictability of the result in each session combine together to collectively keep players coming back for many hours in pretty much every game mode and feature.
Overall, MXGP 2 on PS4 is a worthy improvement in comparison to MXGP on PS3, therefore providing an even more authentic simulation of the sport which is highly recommended for fans of MXGP and formulas of Motocross or motorsports, but is accessible for those who are new to Motocross or motorsports as it provides the best MXGP and Motocross experience yet which truly captures the heart of Motocross in a racing game that you should certainly make a priority game to play.