Moto GP Ultimate Racing Technology is my favourite game on the Xbox Live! service, but maybe that will change. With many hours of pure enjoyment it is hard to see how much they could improve an already impressive title.
Well now is the time to see if they have indeed made this increase in gameplay and graphical delight to further enhance an already splendid game.
Unlike the original game we can now enjoy Xbox Live! online play right out of the box as if you remember before the non-online version came out first with the so called Moto GP Online-Demo released with Xbox Live! With access to 3 tracks and a few riders those who had the game could use the non-online version to unlock the extra tracks and riders to use on the online version. Not the best solution, but at the time it was worth the hassle.
When you open Moto GP 2 you can sign onto the Live! service without actually playing online, meaning if you are unlocking tracks or just improving your custom bike statistics, your friends can still see you are online if you wish and invite you to an online game. This is a new idea and we will see more and more titles using this approach. Microsoft is really pushing this idea of instant logging onto Xbox Live! and Moto GP 2 is straight in there no messing, being one of the first to offer this simple but very effective feature.
Graphically the game is a big improvement which is saying something when the original was impressive on its own. The texture quality is staggering especially when you admire the road and the extra scenery added to your racing adventures. Lavish backdrops, all manner of Xbox effects thanks to the GPU and the bikes themselves are also sporting many more polygons than before with much more details to every part of the bike. At the start of a race just as in real life see all those lovely ladies with their umbrellas covering the riders before the race begins and of course the weather effects are even more staggering then before especially with the rain on.
The improvement to the graphics has really thrust the game into a completely new and fresh looking game rather then just the odd tweak here and there. Much time has been spent on the improvements and it’s not just graphically where time has been taken to indulge our Moto GP fantasies.
Control of the bike has been slightly changed to make cornering more of a challenge. It took a while to get used to the new handling, but you soon get into the momentum of the racing and cornering and find it to actually improve the racing sensation as you now more then ever have to judge entering and exiting corners. Otherwise find yourself loosing time or worse flipping off your bike.
Another area of the game that has had the magical touch added is the collision animations. Compared to the first game this one literally catapults you into crashing mayhem. With fancier camera angles when your poor body is thrown into the air and then actually experience delight in seeing your arms and legs fly around and then come to an abrupt stop. You just have to see them to believe it. So plenty already to get your teeth into, but what next?
To many people’s distress on the first Moto GP game for Xbox was the shortcuts, some more obvious then others. Whether it was just taking corners much earlier and travelling across the grass or colliding into the pits and finding yourself half way around the course, this has been fixed and in a great way too. If you travel across anything other then tarmac such as grass and gravel, you will notice time is added to your lap time meaning no more advantage is added to this tactic and for all those who did like to cut corners to get better lap times, forget it on this game as they have now put in place a rather clever problem for you to fret over. Also if lap times don’t bother you, a lot of the open corners where short cuts are possible have now been cut off or made much more undulated to make the risk totally unwise. We can finally have faith in everybody’s lap times.
Also added to the online game is the option to stop people who race around the tracks the wrong way hitting you, now they just pass through making no difference. Other little enhancements are visible on the lobby. See everyone’s overall world ranking by their name before you enter a race so you can see what competition you are up against without having to see them bomb off ahead to realise the skill in the room.
Building a custom bike and using manual gears is still an advantage over someone who doesn’t, but with the change in handling and other little new trickery, the playing field is now much more open. If all this isn’t enough your custom bike is a lot more customisable than ever before, most notably you can add your own design of logo. Using 8 layers of text and shapes you can recreate famous brand logos or one of your own from your imagination to which everyone on the track can see and compare.
The single player game is still a fantastic game playing experience if you do not have the Live! service, but if you want to get the best out of the game and race real people rather then the AI, ideally you should get the service to take the game to a whole new level of enjoyment.
If you have the original, this is a very worthy upgrade. With a much cleaner racing feel and some of the old gripes such as short cutting removed makes for a much better rivalry online. So get the game and get ready to make a name for yourself on the starting grid. A must buy for sure!