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Moto GP ’06 Review

Developer: Climax Studios Publisher: THQ
Release Date: June 12, 2006 Also On: None

Xbox 360 owners have gone through dry spells that rival those of the Sahara Desert. New games come out as frequently as intelligent statements out of George W. Bush. I’ve found myself testing the waters of all sorts of games and I never thought I’d leave the anchor resting for so long when I picked up THQ and Climax’s Moto GP ’06. What is essentially the Xbox 360’s first simulation racer is also one of the top overall racing titles. Moto GP ’06 offers some of the best thrills and deadliest spills of any racer out there.

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Before I dive too deeply into telling you all about the great things concerning Moto GP ’06, one must be aware: this is not an easy game to pick up and play. THQ and Climax have created a game that is punishing to newbies of the motorcycle racing scene. The feel of riding a motorcycle in this game, though extremely realistic, is also quite difficult at first. One must learn the intricacies of riding a motorcycle before it is possible to truly appreciate the realism found in this game. For example, turning properly is something that simply must be mastered. Learning where the perfect line for each turn is the key and figuring out the right time to let off the gas and apply the front and rear brakes is only the first step. To truly pull off a great turn, one has to know when to kick back into acceleration and power out.

The bulk of time spent playing Moto GP ’06 will surely be devoted to the Career Mode, where it is possible to participate in one of four different circuits. The first, Grand Prix, is the only one that is initially available. I found it to be the least fun, the most difficult, and longest to get through. Each Grand Prix course takes place on one of many different tracks located throughout the world, such as Laguna Seca. Once that circuit is complete, gamers are treated to Moto GP ’06’s true gold, the Extreme circuits. These three circuits test your racing skills to the…well, extreme. You’ll race through more exotic and attractive locations throughout the bright city streets of Tokyo, and across Tuscany, where the only thing crazier than the sense of speed are the turns found at the bottom of steep mountain hills.

Each race is a pretty exciting string of events. To prepare, you can scope out a course’s difficult spots by completing challenges and qualifying for pole position. I think it’s safe to say I’ve never played a game where qualifying was so necessary, because the action on the track becomes brutal once the race actually starts. Though the AI isn’t as brilliant as I had hoped, it requires you to stay on pace and up to speed. Like I said before, part of the trick is learning how to turn properly.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest perks of playing through the Career Mode is the level of customization one is given. At the start, you’ll customize everything from your rider’s helmet style to a creative logo to use in online racing modes. Then you can use prize money to purchase new bikes and parts. On top of all of this, you can customize your rider’s base skills by earning experience points after completing the challenges on each course, and of course, winning races.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of special modes outside of the Career Mode. There is a multi-player mode for racing fans as well as an Xbox Live setup, but for players going solo, there are really only Career races. That’s not to say there aren’t a ton of those. In fact, I’d say there are almost 70 races to go through, but once that’s done, you’ve played through the full Moto GP ’06 experience.

Visually, Moto GP ’06 is a top-tier title on the Xbox 360. It has some of the prettiest backdrops I’ve ever seen, with detail simply overflowing from every single location. From the sand kicking up when you botch a turn to the reflections off of buildings in Barcelona, there are plenty of sights to see here. One of my favorite effects is the slight camera panning when one pulls off a high-speed turn, resulting in a feeling that simulates the G-force of pulling off such a turn. Of course, the sound of the game is nice as well. The ear-splitting engine sound effects and screeching tires are as well-done as any racing game and the soundtrack isn’t half bad either.

Overall, Moto GP ’06 isn’t a game I’d recommend for everyone. Despite its excellence in so many areas, it just isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. The steep learning curve is the first obstacle and the second is the lack of gameplay modes. Still, for racing fans and for anyone who liked previous Moto GP entries, this should be one of your next Xbox 360 purchases. The beautiful graphics, the realistic feeling of the controls and the thrilling courses should be enough to keep you playing for quite a while.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 8.1
Written by Cliff Review Guide