Moto GP PS2 Preview

Multiple modes, at least eight real-world courses, and a plethora of actual 500cc-class riders abound in Moto GP, Namco's upcoming PS2 motorcycle racing title. The game looks like a merger between Cyber Cycles and Ridge Racer, and it may just offer some realistic, albeit arcadish, fun to look forward to this winter.

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Known for a smattering of successful arcade motorbike titles, Namco will soon try its hand at console motorcycle racing with Moto GP for the PlayStation 2. An enhanced version of its arcade smash hit, 500cc GP, the PS2 rendition of Moto GP will feature three different racing classes, at least eight real-world courses, and four authentic racing teams. Add in tournament-challenge, time-attack, and single-race modes for one or two players, and it looks as if Namco is trying its best to deliver a game heavy on speed without going too hard on simulation.

Of course, just because Moto GP isn't going to be a true simulation, that doesn't mean its course physics and gameplay won't be based upon real-world control mechanics and bike handling. Whether racing on Suzuka or at Donington, each of Moto GP's courses comes complete with sharp turns, steep angles, and a number of strategy-begging twists. While the action down the straightaway is fast and carefree, a modicum of control and braking is required to navigate the game's corners. Speed too fast and you'll slide your back wheel into an embankment, or worse, a hard wall. However, too slow, and you just might find yourself coping with a bumpy ride along the track's less well-groomed sections. Consider Moto GP the thinking man's arcade racer, and you'll gain some insight into what Namco is striving to achieve.

Visually, Namco isn't just taking 500cc GP and putting a polished veneer on it. Each of the game's courses has been refined and retooled to provide the utmost realism, and a few minor changes have been added in to spice things up. Every team in the game, be it Yamaha or Honda, is populated by real 500cc-class riders, with all of the diverse character models and rider portraits you'd expect from such attention to detail. As for actual bike and rider visuals, whoa nellie - talk about detail. The riders' uniforms cling to their bodies as if in real life, bending and bunching at the knees and elbows just as real leather would. Ambient sunlight gleams off their helmets, while dust erupts from their tires during a run in with the roadside. Sparks fly, tire marks remain, and trees flow in the wind as you blow by at 150mph.

While no firm date has been set yet, Namco looks to be on pace to have Moto GP ready for release sometime in late October or early November, just in time to capitalize on the PS2 US launch hype. With a few additional modes and courses yet to be revealed, it seems that the company might just be giving itself some competition this winter. After all, Ridge Racer V is the thinking man's car racing title. Now, though, it looks as if it'll have something for motorbike buffs as well.

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