MotoGP 07 First Look

We saddle up in our look at the 2007 entry in the fast and furious motorcycle racing series.

For the hardcore two-wheel video game fans, the more than two-year wait between MotoGP 2 and MotoGP 3 on the original Xbox felt like a miniature eternity. Luckily, the wait between MotoGP 3 and its next-gen counterpart, last year's MotoGP 06, was merely a year. This was to be expected, of course, considering the game was a fairly literal port of the Xbox game. The good news is that it seems like the Climax development team is settling into an annual release schedule for the series, as we found out in our look at the upcoming MotoGP 07 for the Xbox 360 at tonight's THQ press event.

Due for release in September of this year, MotoGP 07 continues the successful formula of real-world bikes, riders, and circuits in the grand prix mode, and you'll find fictional tracks and hot street bikes featured in the alternative street mode. Then, of course, there's the online racing, which has been the centerpiece of the series ever since the free demo disc of the first MotoGP shipped with the original Xbox Live accessory for the Xbox. For the 2007 version, the team at Climax has touched on all three of these main areas, and the result is a game that looks quite a bit different than last year's.

First, let's talk presentation, or, as the development team likes to refer to it, the "spectacle" of racing on the MotoGP circuit. First and foremost, you'll notice an entirely new look to the menu system--one that ditches the staid style of the previous games for a whole new look and feel. The new approach seems to be set on providing you with lots of information--whether its track statistics in the loading screen or a postrace telemetry wrap-up that will show you where you were fastest on the track and where your riding could use some work.

The biggest change visually, however, is on the tracks themselves. The amount of detail trackside is truly impressive on all of the tracks we visited during the demo. The crowds that line the tracks and jam into the stadium seating on tracks like Shanghai and Laguna Seca make for excellent eye candy--and it's made all the better by the fact that each crowd member is a moving 3D model. Developers said they can pack as many as 100,000 virtual people in a track, with as many as 20,000 viewable at any given point in the race (depending on where you are on the course, naturally). The draw distance, too, has been greatly improved. At Laguna Seca, for example, you can look across the Andretti Hairpin from the front straight and see the rise of turn 5--something you couldn't do in the last game.

The intricacy and details in and around the race track make for a race experience that feels much more alive, with light, movement, and color everywhere. Race at Donington Park (which is located close to East Midlands Airport in the UK), and you'll see and hear jumbo jets coming in for a landing nearby. Race at Laguna Seca, and you'll see helicopters floating in the air, folks lighting trackside flares, and tents, cars, and trucks everywhere. Because MotoGP 07 will feature the 2007 liveries, rider rosters, newly regulated 800cc bikes, teams, and schedule, the game will also include a new track added for the real 2007 season--Italy's Misano. While our first impressions of the track didn't leave us thinking it's the next Mugello or Phillip Island (in fact, its long sections and supertight turns reminded us a bit more of Estoril), it will definitely be nice to run an entirely new circuit in the game.

It's not just the grand prix tracks that have improved. While the extreme tracks featured in the game feature the same layouts as those in 06, they've been given visual upgrades, as well. The Autobahn track, for example, now features intricate backgrounds and improved lighting effects; the Tokyo track has been enlivened with moving signs and more detailed buildings, both of which better reflect the neon landscape of the Japanese metropolis. In all, the environments and tracks in MotoGP 07 make the relatively static trackside environments in MotoGP 06 feel positively austere in comparison. And, according to developers, all of this detail won't come at the cost of frame rate. While they readily admitted 06 had its frame-rate problems, especially in the tightest turns, the developers are aiming for a solid 60 frames per second, with all the trackside detail intact.

Beyond the visual improvements in MotoGP 07's extreme mode, you can expect to find more customization than ever before in the series. The bike lineup won't be classified by engine-displacement capacity any more, as was the case in the previous games. Instead, extreme mode will feature 20 newly designed bikes for you to purchase and customize as you see fit. This will include a paint and livery editor, as well as a host of parts such as brake pads, tires, engines, and so forth, which will have both a cosmetic and performance-enhancing affect on your ride. While we didn't get to check out the customization tools for ourselves, it seems like there will be plenty for you to do on your way to creating your one-of-a-kind bike.

Of course, once you have your ride sorted out, you'll want to take it online and put it up against the stiffest of competition. One of the most intriguing new features in MotoGP 07 will be pink-slip racing online, where two riders put their bikes on the line in a winner-take-all competition. With your two-wheeled heart and soul up for grabs, the stakes are raised considerably for online racing, and the development team is working to ensure that you'll be able to know exactly who you're going up against (as well as weighing your chance for success via the game's seeding system), and they'll be doing their best to eliminate online cheating to create as level a playing field as possible. Here's hoping they get it right--because as nice as it would be to win someone else's bike, the last thing we want is for someone to jack our prized virtual possession using some cheap warp cheat.

From a gameplay standpoint, MotoGP 07 feels much like its predecessors, with a more-accessible-than-you-might-think learning curve that lets you get on a bike quickly and make your way around the track as well as a difficulty that ramps up as you begin shaving seconds off your lap time. The controls are still fully customizable, and you can assign any button or stick to whatever function you wish. In an effort to make the game more user friendly, the developers have tried to add more visual feedback to the action on the track. This comes through in the corners especially, as your bike's tires will more readily get loose if you take a turn too quick. At top speeds, the screen will shake a bit to indicate your pace, and under heavy braking, your bike's back wheels will wobble a bit as your bike slows down. It's all designed to give you as much feedback as possible as you turn laps, looking to shave off that extra tenth.

Having loved the series since its inception, it should come as no surprise that we're very excited about the upcoming release of MotoGP 07. We're curious to see how some of the game's more ambitions features, such as the pink-slip races, come out in the end, but it's clear the Climax team has already made a strong start so far. As the months pass leading up to the game's release in September, we'll be bringing you much more on the game, so stay tuned.

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Discussion

22 comments
Deathisnature
Deathisnature

I want Dirt Bikes and Dirt trails , I love the dirt bikes in the early versions that were on pc .

jdbthexboxgamr
jdbthexboxgamr

This game is sounding very nice indeed!. Steady 60fps,3D crowds,sign me up.

RANSACK-YOU
RANSACK-YOU

"anyone who rides in RL will tell you MotoGP riding physics are Wrong! you will develop bad riding habits." I ride in REAL LIFE, and have a few problems with this statement. If anything, the physics in this game are more difficult than real world riding. To say that someone is going to develope bad riding habits from playing a video game is laughable at best. Finally, I seriously doubt you have the first clue as to how one of these bikes would realy handle. I have a Buell XB9SX, but I don't think for a second that makes me able to judge the realism of bikes like these. P.S. As soon as you or I own a superbike, We can talk realistic physics. Untill then please keep posts like this to yourself......Thanx

colin8703
colin8703

I'm very intrigued about the pink slip option. Hopefully the person who wins will have the option to give the bike back. I might feel bad about taking someone's pride and joy away from them. You know, like a sportsmans bet.

M0rka
M0rka

Ragdoll crashes PLZ!!!

synthetictone
synthetictone

"anyone who rides in RL will tell you MotoGP riding physics are Wrong! you will develop bad riding habits." huh? let's see... throttle make bike move... brakes make bike stop... rear brake can tighten your entry into a corner as front brake can make you push wide... too much throttle on lean can make you go wide or spin the rear out... pretty much like real thing I would say since I ride and do track days... but if you think you can compare your GSXR to the feel and control of a MotoGP whether real or on game and expect exactly the same feeling... not gonna happen. TT on PS2 didn't feel any more realistic IMHO either

John_of_Fire
John_of_Fire

I thought Climax wasn't making games for THQ anymore now that they are owned by Disney. The first was still my favorite; hopefully this will inspire me to upgrade.

Eclipse83Lives
Eclipse83Lives

I made a statement this and also MX vs ATV unleashed on the other comment thread. And how Unleashed was vary good, but could be all the better. THQ has a great way of kinda making a arcade sim almost?? Its not to corny of a arcade feel. But its not so simed, that it takes you away from the reality of feeling like your in this sports real world. And doing what they do. Thats not a easy balance to pull off. And they do it in their 2 wheel games. But I was thinking on how GP has the real tracks than the fantasy set. I think Unleashed need to do this. A 12 or 16 race supercross or motocross series, with tracks that are all kinda hard "but not crazy insane" and different, with the about same difficultly levels track to track. Meaning it comes down to racing your opponent more. Than put some other crazy supercross tracks in a fantasy series. The tracks they ussaly put in the last 2 or 3 or races of the currant game. I like how that works for this game. And I think the sim sorta needs to be seperated some from the arcade. And its a great way of doing it. And it would work great on Unleashed.

kaesz
kaesz

i don't like moter games but this is a good one

tranzam383
tranzam383

"MotoGP 07 feels much like its predecessors" anyone who rides in RL will tell you MotoGP riding physics are Wrong! you will develop bad riding habits. you want the real riding simulator? get Tourist Trophy. pray for a PS3 sequil

tig1979
tig1979

Street mode is like the arcade mode for moto gp, cant wait for this gonna be awesome!

gmax
gmax

And riders rejoiced...

Octagon
Octagon

looking forward to this one. great preview

kamicolo
kamicolo

Seems like a winner, especially for bike fans. This is more of a simulation than an arcade racer, right? Will it have an arcade mode?

adriankeith
adriankeith

Wow. Sounds like the same game with a new name. This review focused too much on visuals. You can't get any more detailed with the tracks. Who the hell is looking at scenery when they're flying at 180mph? Get to the meat of the game! What we want is a game that plays better than its predecessor. These guys at THQ just keep slapping the new year on their MotoGP game and everyone gets all excited. Where is the player lean, where is the full bike customization? Where is the REAL customization?? Who cares about decals and all that? Hopefully Gamespot can get a better hands on with the customization of the game in the weeks to come. This sounds much like their MGP '06 review. Disappointing.

X360PS3AMD05
X360PS3AMD05

Maybe this will convince my uncle the 360 is better than PS3.

JDaniels48
JDaniels48

06 was sweet so this one should be sweeter

dnathug
dnathug

My friend on my list lives by this game, he triest to get me to buy it maybe i'll wait untill next season, good article

mechberg
mechberg

Game is coming to PC Cripplingfaith. Forgot to mention that in the story... :)

50dollaz
50dollaz

the game looks good to me