We’ve met with developer Milestone a number of times over the past few years – usually to look at their latest WRC rally racing game. Although development duties for that franchise have transferred to another developer, Milestone is still making racing games – and their latest is MXGP2. Here’s our look at the PS4 version.
While the MXGP games are all about motorcycles and not about rally racing cars, there is a similarity – both feature a lot of dirt and mud and agility and precise steering are crucial in both games. The first MXGP game came out late in 2014 and was met with a lukewarm response, and about a year and a half later Milestone is looking to make things right with the sequel – which ditches the previous console generation when it comes to its launch platforms.
Milestone has a tendency to walk the middle ground between simulation and arcade, and MXGP2 is no exception. The game features a ton of options to customize your bike, ranging from aesthetics to fine-tuning the mechanical aspects of the bike. The latter can make a difference, but only becomes relevant when you know your motorcycle stuff or when you’ve been playing for a while and know what each change might bring you.
During gameplay, the control mechanism tries to echo the real life sport. This is where motorcycle racing differs strongly from car racing, because balance and body position play a big role in motocross events. This obviously can’t be recreated while playing on the couch, but using your right thumbstick you can make sure your rider leans effectively in order to gain an edge. This of course happens when jumping – which also allows for showboating – but is especially important when cornering. This is, for newcomers, the biggest hill to climb. Lean in too much and you’ll lose balance and fall. Don’t lean in at all, and you’ll use a ton of speed so that opponents catch up or even overtake you.
MXGP2 also features a host of new and updated content – with seven new tracks ranging from outside venues to stadium races. Being an officially licensed game, there are also plenty of real motorbikes available to choose from – and you can follow a career mode that takes you through the lower divisions before you are free to tackle to big leagues. For fans of the MXGP series (the real life version, that is), there is also a scenario mode called “2015 real events”. In this mode, you get to relive memorable moments from the past season where you take control of riders and get to change history – for better or for worse. This is a fun mode because it adds a bit of drama to the proceedings, but I’d imagine it’s even more fun for loyal fans of the sport.
Milestone has the basics of a good MXGP game down with MXGP2, but it comes in a “no frills” package which is a shame for a sport that’s known to deliver spectacle and excitement. Imagine a WWE without the commentary or crowd interaction, and you’ll see what I mean. The motorbike is front and center in MXGP2, and this translates to the ability to tweak your bike as well as to the delivery of the actual events. Engines roar loudly, but it feels a bit “dry” in terms of the total experience – unless you’re a motocross purist, most likely.
In terms of delivery we also noticed a few framerate drops whenever the field of riders was close together (usually near the start of the race), as well as some relatively long load times. The basic gameplay works well, but the total package feels a bit too much like an incremental upgrade over the first MXGP game on the PS4 and not like the definitive next-gen MXGP experience we hoped for. However, until the next MX vs ATV game comes out later this year, this is definitely the best motocross game you can get.