Milestone releases a large number of racing games every year. Some of them aren’t half bad, such as Gravel, while others, chiefly its motorcycle games, leave something to be desired. Unfortunately, MXGP Pro is one of the motorcycle games, and while this is nowhere near as bad as the absolute debacle that was MXGP 3, it’s a definite step backwards from its Monster Energy Supercross title.
MXGP Pro is the newest racing game focusing on the Motocross World Championship, and that brings with it a collective of expected features, such as all of the tracks from last year’s circuit, and a handful of modes that you would expect to find in a game such as this. But that’s the problem. Whereas Monster Energy Supercross actually exceeded expectations and introduced new ideas in a few key spots, MXGP Pro marks a return to normalcy, in that there is no more than the bare minimum of what would be expected.
The game modes are limited to a slim online mode, a couple single player modes like time attack and individual races, and a barebones career mode. And then a training mode, but we’ll get to that in a bit. Gone is the track editor from Monster Energy Supercross. Hell, even the career mode feels stripped down. There are uniform options, bike options, and the like, but the actual quantity of the options feels lesser. Everything just feels smaller in scope compared to past entries. There is, however, an “extreme” mode that offers a more realistic attempt at motorcycle handling, with more stringent physics and bike options, requiring a lot more finesse, and it’s an appreciated addition.
But to circle back to the “tutorial”, which might actually be the worst aspect of the game. The tutorial consists of a short lap of a track intercut with narration about how to play the game. It lasts about two minutes and then there are a sequence of training missions to hone your abilities. Weirdly, these training missions grant in-game bonuses, like faster gate-drop reaction time or better cornering. That on its own is fine, but when you pair with the fact that these training missions don’t help anything at all, it becomes tedious. You have to do a sequence of things, like ride through a number of flags in a set amount of time, but none of the more advanced moves, like scrubbing, are laid out for you. The training missions all amount to “okay, go do this” without any sense of handholding to actually help you figure out how to do it. The end result saw us having to run through each level many times, including multiple dozens of attempts in some cases. If we didn’t have a stress ball handy with us, there were several occasions where the DualShock was in real danger of flying through the nearest window. The tutorials end up being about as fun as bashing your head into a wall, so if you go into those, be wary.
We haven’t really talked about the actual gameplay yet, though, so you might be wondering how that is. And unfortunately it’s like the previous games in the series, which is to say, terrible. We’ve taken the mickey out of the gameplay in this series several times, and this one will be no exception. While it makes strides in some areas, it ultimately amounts to just more wheel spinning. Line selection is something we’ve had a huge problem with in this series, as that is something massively important to dirt bike racing. Surprisingly, line selection is actually possible this time, sometimes.
Ultimately the bright spots of gameplay are ruined by a lingering issue this series always goes up against: the physics. The physics are complete and utter nonsense, and there is no semblance of consistency. It becomes so maddening, with the problems often cascading so extremely, that you just want to shut the PlayStation off. There was on especially memorable instance of this where we went from first place to last place because the bike “crashed” on a straightaway for nothing, and then proceeded to do this several more times on the same straightaway. And then we were back in first again, in the same lap. Meanwhile sometimes a really severe turn where you should definitely crash sees you make it out just fine, while other times the simplest turn in the world bucks off your bike so fast you don’t even have time to react. The only consistency the game has is a complete and utter lack of consistency.
If there’s something nice to be said, though, it’s that the bike models look nice. All the different manufacturers are on display, and both the sound and look of the bikes is exceptional. Additionally, the weather options, while limited, are satisfying. Racing during rain in particular, looks genuinely fantastic. The shine of the mud and the rain is handled extremely well. It’s just a shame the sound design in other areas of the game aren’t as well implemented. The crowds that come out to watch these races are borderline silent. You hear a cheer every once in a while, but it never gets electrifying. And the number of people actually shown to be at the races is so low the Arizona Coyotes could easily outpace them for attendance. It’s also recommended that you bring your own soundtrack to play to; what little music there is ultimately forgettable.
Saying that Milestone need to take a step back with its dirt bike games and rework everything is becoming as tired a statement as saying Telltale needs to use a new engine. But it remains true yet again with MXGP Pro. A very slight improvement over MXGP 3, but a noticeable step back from Monster Energy Supercross, MXGP Pro is largely a spectacular disaster. It gets a couple things right, and offers a new slate of tracks to race on, but you’ll be too busy slamming your head into a wall to really notice.