Online Motorcycle Racing Staff
by Staff
In light of the majority of MO subscriber’s feelings on motorcycles as a way of getting laid, take my advice and NEVER buy what I am about to discuss below. On the plus side – any women who decide to participate will find themselves outnumbered 50 to 1 by men in chat rooms between fifteen and thirty-five. So where does estrogen fear to tread? Xbox Live!

The timing of this submission was uncanny -- with the recent addition of hard-core gamer Sean Alexander, we have been kicking around the idea of putting a gaming server in here @MO, the idea being mostly that'd it'd be fun and we could code up some applet for you to let people know when you'll be logged in/if you are currently. But what game to support? Let us know your favorite and of course, it has to be 'Net enabled, preferably with an open-source server available to run on our Linux serverfarm. --MO

It is on Xbox Live where Microsoft, in all it’s evil splendor, saw fit to release one of the best motorcycle racing games ever: MotoGP Live by THQ. To be fair, MotoGP is not up against much competition and if you want to read how it stacks up against other games, run a Google search and read a review. If you want to find out what happens to our hallowed sport when some Brits get together and turn it into binary, read on!

Pride’s not supposed to hurt as bad as a broken wrist…

First and foremost, MotoGP is not really intended to be a simulator – but I feel that fact works to MotoGP’s advantage. As with all racing games, the thing that’s missing is any feeling of traction. As a result, the game compromises by allowing insane amounts of misbehavior and ham-fisted abuse. 140 mph, full lean with a handful of front break? No problem. In fact, if you’re not getting darkies from the front and rear wheels on almost every slow corner entry, you’re not likely to be on a winning pace. The other weak point in terms of sheer realism is somewhat sluggish side-to-side transitions – although rolling off the throttle or breaking will speed your rate of lean.

Interestingly, the real challenge of bike control in this game comes not from traction but finger dexterity. An Xbox controller has quite a lot of analog inputs and even more buttons, and MotoGP does not skimp on rider input. If you’re talented enough, you can control the front and rear breaks independently, up shifts, downshifts, rider lean forwards and backwards (wheelies, anyone?), acceleration; hell, the only thing missing is a clutch. Most riders can’t juggle that many inputs and simply run an automatic bike (with some acceleration loss), but others link the breaks (LBS??) and lose the ability to back the bike into hairpins Hayden-style or perform stoppies. Come on the throttle too early in a corner and you’re going to run wide, too late and you’ll be passed easily down the next straight – you get the idea.

Once you have a control scheme that you’re happy with, you’re ready to learn the part that comes naturally to us real riders: the lines.

Sticks and Stones

The lights go red at Mugello and you crack the throttle with the right analog stick. The lights disappear and the faux clutch feeds out as you increase to full throttle. You get a good start and find yourself in a drag race with up to 16 other real people to turn one. As the corner approaches, you break hard, move a little to the inside to block your rivals and drop it down to 3rd gear. After a little prayer that nobody knocks you off, you find yourself hanging over the inside curbing, looking up the hill towards turns 2 and 3 and hard on the gas… Just the thought of some zit-faced 14 yr old beating you makes your facemask fog.

And that’s just like the beginning of any race, available 24/7 at the drop of a hat, and that’s why any motorcycle race fan should be drooling right now. The strategies that go into racing come over to this game with almost all the same importance. You must learn to block, draft, pass and lead a race (no pressure…) to win in the company of any of the top 1,500 riders (~15%) that play this game. Did I forget to mention there’s a ranking system?? Your best laps ever on all 11 tracks are added together and that forms your overall rank.

The depth this game offers despite it’s arcade-like intentions is incredible and if you are a sport-biker and/or Grand Prix fan, you will not be disappointed. The online version of the game also offers variable simulation that does a great job of factoring in traction. The 100% simulation mode is very tricky and feels close to, dare I say it: real… THQ has steadily upgraded the online version and for that they should be commended. Given the electronic format of MO, many of you may already have DSL – the only ongoing expense this game requires. I can only speculate to what extent Microsoft will rape subscribers at the end of the introductory year, however.

All the more reason to check this out now before the sequel comes out and you’re too far behind….


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