If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s the mentality that MotoGP maker Milestone appears to be adopting with MXGP: The Official Motocross Game following March’s somewhat unspectacular PlayStation 3 outing. Having been on the receiving end of a bit of a critical soiling, the Italian outfit has now opted to port a scrubbed up version of the motorcycle simulation to the PlayStation 4 – and it’s tossed in a few extra courses to keep things interesting.
The tour will now take you to the rustic Czech Republic town of Loket, as well as Bulgaria’s sandy Sevlievo circuit. It’s the idyllic Arco di Trento that demonstrates the advancements in this next-gen edition, though, pitting you against winding roads backed by dense forestry and chalky mountains. The addition of this trio of new tracks – alongside the luscious Netherlands location, Lierop – means that you’ll now be able to compete in the full motocross campaign for the first time.
Unfortunately, you’ll still be doing so in the same lifeless career mode from the last-gen version. As with so many of Milestone’s titles, you’ll pick from a pre-selected catalogue of mug shots to resemble your racer, and work your way through the ranks of MX2 and MX1 in a straightforward single player story. Management messages and a faux social network try to inject a little interest, but it’s somewhat half-baked, and comes up short compared to MotoGP 14’s more in-depth alternative.
At least the racing remains enjoyable – even if it is still a touch too twitchy for our tastes. You’ll need to use the left analogue stick to turn your bouncy bike’s handlebars, while the right prompts your rider to lean in different directions. The key to getting around corners is using both inputs simultaneously, which makes the driving a little different to other titles on the market. Couple that with slippy surfaces, and there’s a definite learning curve that newcomers will enjoy.
An added layer of strategy includes the emphasis on ‘scrubbing’, which essentially requires you to kick out the bike when you’re in the air in order to minimise your profile and bring you to the ground quicker – improving lap times. It can be a tricky technique to wrap your head around at first, but once you’ve mastered the art of riding like a maniac, it’s a pretty satisfying manoeuvre to perform – especially when you’re showing off in front of others in the online mode.
Speaking of which, this area of the package is surprisingly well built, with an Online Seasons mode seeing you mimicking the events of the main campaign in a truncated career-esque experience. Here, you’ll have a quota of points to earn in each season, and gathering enough points before you run out of races will see you promoted to a different bracket with faster bikes. It’s a dangerous option in a game unlikely to ever have an enormous player base, but the addition of AI racers keeps courses feeling full.
Online or offline, the game definitely looks better in this port – especially in the added environments. However, cardboard flags and pop-in prevent it from feeling like the next-gen step up that you may be hoping for. The textures are certainly far superior, and the track deformation technology – which sees muddy circuits gradually ripped to shreds over the course of a race – has fewer issues on Sony’s new hardware, but it’s arriving in a post-DriveClub era, and looks dated as a consequence.
At least the lighting’s a lot more natural, though, so there’s a good foundation for the developer to work from for next year’s inevitable entry. The sound is supposedly improved, too, but while we did get a sense of the wider audio positioning, the samples – which appear to span little more than raspy engines and annoying fog horns – still leave a lot to be desired. We’re afraid that we’re not overly keen on the soft rock soundtrack either.
MXGP: The Official Motocross Game hasn’t found itself unseated on the PS4, but this isn’t enough of an improvement to warrant a second buy. The title’s scrubbed up just fine on Sony’s next-gen system, but it still bears the telltale signs of a PS3 game. A straightforward campaign and surprisingly solid online mode make this an enjoyable enough ride for newcomers, but those that are a little pickier about what they play may want to wait and see what improvements next year’s edition brings.