From the Isle of Man to MotoGP, and from MotoGP all the way to the Monster Energy Supercross, it’s fair to say Milestone have been busy in 2018, delivering some of the year’s biggest racing releases. It seems they aren’t done yet though and it’s time for Milestone to step in with yet another bike racer, this time in the form of MXGP Pro. But can their fourth title of the year provide the simulation experience MXGP fans have been craving?
MXGP Pro is, as the title suggests, an attempt at bringing a more refined and professional version of the MXGP experience to players – a game that is aimed at the hardcore fans of the series and tries to bring a more simulated version of what actually happens out on the track. How? Well by improving every aspect of the bike and the rider mechanics, making the experience feel as realistic as possible.
The first thing to note about MXGP Pro is things are a lot more in-depth than your usual MXGP titles, and something that points this out early on is the tutorial section. Instead of just your bog-standard tutorial, MXGP Pro comes with multiple tutorials, each complete with a number of different sections you must master to pass. There are six sections in total – In-Air Control, Cornering, Scrub, Riding in the Wet, Starting and Braking – with each section timed meaning not only do you have to get the manoeuvres correct, but you also have to do it in a time that is reasonable when compared to the speed of a race. That can ramp up the difficulty quite dramatically.
That said, the tutorial is a great tool to help you prepare for what is essentially one of the most challenging motocross games we’ve seen yet.
Outside of the training there are the Single Player and Multiplayer modes, however whilst online is an option, there is a clear focus on Single Player within MXGP Pro and this is where it provides the ultimate experience. Grand Prix, Time Attack, Career and Championship are all included, with Grand Prix coming across as your typical one-off event that can be either a single race or a full weekend depending on the custom options you decide to choose. Time Attack puts you against the clock in a race to get the fastest time on each track, Championship consists of multiple races with points awarded for finishing positions and then you have the most in-depth mode which is Career, the place most players are likely to spend the majority of their time.
The Career mode itself is split into two categories – Standard and Extreme. The former is where most will probably want to start, even if it’s just to get a feel for the game, as here players can customise race options to their liking, amending the A.I difficulty, physics level, rewinds, brakes, race sessions, and race length, amongst others.
Extreme Career on the other hand is the intended and most realistic way to play, but you’ll need a lot of time and patience to succeed in this one as ‘difficult’ is an understatement. It is here where you will find the race options are pre-set to the hardest settings possible, with every race consisting of a full weekend including qualifying and both races as well as a realistic race length, realistic difficulty, pro rider physics, no joint brakes, semi-automatic transmissions and a lack of rewinds, to deliver something that ensures players feel every turn, bump and lump in the track. It really is a bike racer that is starting to feel like the real thing.
Away from the difficulty though, and Career is an absolute blast to play, as you try to reach the coveted spot of MXGP Champion. To do this players must first progress through the MXGP 2 season and for that, you’ll need a team to race with. A new team is chosen the first time you start Career mode and as you complete races and gain points, new teams will start to fire offers your way, urging you to switch teams. This can only happen within the transfer periods of course, but if you want a better team to transfer to, you’ll need to satisfy the ongoing sponsors you have taken up for your bike.
Sponsors within MXGP Pro are all officially licensed, so if customisation is your sort of thing, then the vast array is surely something that will be of interest to you, especially given that every single part on your bike can be officially sponsored, changing the way your bike looks. If you are keen to have PROX Racing Parts on your bike so you can replicate any real-life bike, then you can, but there are multiple different sponsors to choose from, all of which give off a unique look as you race through the muddy corners of the 19 Official MXGP tracks that are present.
Whilst the rest of the options within Career mode are rather generic, with menus that show messages from your team, results and others that we see in almost every racer, it’s the gameplay that really makes MXGP Pro what it is. This creates the divide from other bike racers out there, and from the moment the starting gates drop, it’s nonstop tension all the way to the finish line.
Around corners, over jumps, and even battling it out side by side with the other riders on the track, there is nothing in MXGP Pro that doesn’t feel realistic. I’m not just talking fantastic visuals, and well-designed tracks, but I’m talking the weight of the bike, spring of the suspension, the precision required to find the fastest route and the constant practice that is needed if you wish to race the way the game is intended… without falling flat on your face as your bike pings off in the opposite direction. Of course, with an option for aids, it is possible to play through the entire game without needing to be an expert of each and every track, but it’s rare to see a game achieve the exact standards of realism we come to expect, especially in the motocross genre. For a game series that has seen countless releases in some form or another, that isn’t something I expected any time soon.
Whilst I’m more than happy to tell you that this is one of the best bike racers you’ll play for some time, there are a couple of little niggles. None will break the game, but they do impact on what would otherwise be perfect realism. The first are the occasional unforgivable crashes. See, throughout my first season in the Career mode this happened at least once per race, and whilst I can’t complain at coming off, the way the bike crashes feels slightly silly. For example, there are occasions in which turning a corner would see the bike flip as if I had just hit a huge stone or a log. Sure, I may have expected to fall over, but seeing my bike literally flip around in a circle was a little surprising. This doesn’t happen all the time but it does take away from the experience.
There are also issues with the multiplayer, and the fact that unless you create a race and invite friends in, there is no way to access the multiplayer as the Quick Match option consistently refuses to allow connection. MXGP Pro fortunately has a fantastic single player offering, but the lack of a functioning way to join random players online means unless you can convince enough friends to fill up a lobby, chances are you’ll be find very little in the way of enjoyable multiplayer races. That is a real shame for a game that looks and plays so well in almost all other areas.
MXGP Pro is certainly one of the best bike racers out there. With every action felt, every race demanding skill and every track bringing its own unique challenges, it seems Milestone have finally brought us the Motocross game we’ve been asking for. Unfortunately with multiplayer currently experiencing issues, the chances of putting your skills against the best aren’t good, but if you’re after a game that can provide the true thrill of Motocross, there’s little better out there right now.