When I first agreed to take on the task of reviewing MXGP 2, I wasn’t sure if I was the proper man for the job. For starters, I know next to nothing about motocross. Heck, I barely know anything about motorcycles, period. So, theoretically, for me to talk about Milestone S.r.l’s racer would be a little foolish. The more I thought about it, though, I realized I’m not a completely terrible choice for the job. The way I see it, my lack of knowledge of the sport lets me look at the title from the perspective of the non-super fan.
Right from the get go, you’ll notice that MXGP 2 gives players a smorgasbord of single-player options. For those that are looking for straightforward racing, the MXGP and Stadium Series events are where you will want to go. These events let players race on either MX2 or MXGP bikes in Time Attack, Grand Prix or Championship races across 22 distinct tracks. For the follower of motocross, the Real Events mode will be a particular highlight, as it lets you re-enact famous races and moments from the sport’s past. The Monster Energy FIM MXON mode will also appeal to diehards more than casuals, as the nation-based competition will probably be more entertaining for those that actually know the history of the series.
That’s already a pretty solid slate of modes, and we haven’t even gotten to the deepest one found in the game. Like any good sport sim, the Career mode needs to have enough depth to justify the time spent playing it. Fortunately, Milestone S.r.l knows a thing or two about the intricacies of the sport. Players can look forward to creating their own rider, and all of the challenge that comes from building a rookie into a champion.
Along the way, they’ll get the chance to sign with new teams and sponsors, as well as acquire and modify motorcycles from several different manufactures. There’s a considerable amount of depth here, but the one thing I wish was included was better rider customization. I understand the limited amount of options a fully clothed character provides, but there’s nothing to really set yourself apart on the track.
Besides the plethora of single-player options, MXGP 2 also features full online multiplayer. With the exception of Real Events, Career and Time Attack, all of the modes found in the game can be played with other racers. My concern with the multiplayer does not, perhaps surprisingly, come from the netcode, which is pretty solid. Rather, I’m concerned that the niche audience the game targets won’t be able to provide enough online support. I tried playing online several times over the past weekend, and hit dead periods all three days. And when I did find others, I was often stuck waiting in lobbies for events to wrap up. There’s nothing the studio can really do to help this, but I do think it’s worth pointing out.
Considering the pedigree Milestone S.r.l. has (MotoGP, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo), it’s no surprise that MXGP 2 is a very realistic depiction of the sport. As mentioned before, I may not be the best judge of realism here, but I can tell that this feels much more challenging to control than Motocross Madness. The bikes feel appropriately weighty and tough to handle as you ride across these rough, dirt courses. When you’re speeding around these tracks, you’ll need to rely on your brakes, or else you’ll be tossed. You can even feel the heaviness of the bike when you’re airborne. To me, this feels as close to getting on the track as you can get without actually leaving your room.
The realism comes at a price, though, as the racer can be absolutely brutal to get into. Learning how to properly steer your bike was a severe lesson in trial and error for me. It took me at least an hour of practice before I felt even close to comfortable racing against the A.I. It also doesn’t help that there isn’t an interactive tutorial, only videos, which I think was a poor decision. There are so many advance techniques that are needed to win (clutch, scrub, etc.) that letting players learn these through a tutorial would have been a huge benefit.
One of the questions I always ask with sports sim is at what point does the quest for realism interfere with the ability to have fun? With MXGP 2, it sometimes feels like the realism could have been turned down a notch so that the game was a little more enjoyable. Even after modifying and improving my bike to where it felt great, the races felt too stop and go. There’s just so much braking required to stay on the course. Maybe I’m just not that good at the game, but when I see others online, as well as the A.I. doing the same thing, I know that constant braking is at least part of the experience.
Despite the fact that this is Milestone S.r.l’s 6th release on current-gen consoles, the visuals in MXGP 2 look very dated. I understand that there isn’t a ton that needs to be animated here, but absolutely nothing stands out. The tracks look bland and lifeless, and the lack of animation on the riders is easily noticeable. And considering the lack of detail found in any part of the game, the constant load times are both surprising and annoying. Seeing a loading screen pop up when you go from menu to menu is simply inexcusable in this day and age.
MXGP 2 is a bit of a tough recommend. For those that are either previously interested in motocross, or have the time to learn the nitty gritty of the sport, I say check it out. The amount of modes and customization options provided by Milestone S.r.l is staggering. However, if you’re looking for a less intense depiction of the sport, or you’re easily frustrated, it’s hard to recommend a title that is so unforgiving. The poor performance and aesthetics of the game aren’t exactly appealing either.
This may be the only motocross game currently available on the Xbox One, but even if you’re interested, I recommend a test drive before you buy.
This review was based on the Xbox One version of the title, which we were provided with.
Novices need not apply: MXGP 2 is designed for only the most dedicated of motocross fans. Those that are interested, and willing to look past poor performance issues, though, will find a treasure trove of content that will satisfy their needs.