MotoGP 08 Updated Hands-On

We get an updated look at this two-wheeled racing series, including a peek at the Career mode.

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Though we saw the game last week at the 2008 Games Convention in Leipzig, Capcom is still eager to show off more of its latest entry in the MotoGP series, MotoGP 08. Reps from the company came by earlier this week to show off the game and give us a glimpse at the game's Career mode. It won't be winning any awards for innovation, but MotoGP 08's Career mode looks to be another fun way to get into two-wheeled racing in this sim-style game.

Career mode joins a number of other modes in MotoGP 08, including Quick Race, Time Trial, Championship (where you play a single season run-through of the MotoGP calendar), Challenges, and online play, which will support up to 12 players. Your MotoGP 08 career will last five years, and during that time, you'll sign with a team, as well as build up your bike's attributes. You'll also do your best to win the championships in the different bike classes in which you'll run (125cc, 250cc, and MotoGP).

Scoring points in race events will let you spend points to upgrade your bikes in four different categories: maximum speed, acceleration, braking, and traction. You'll also unlock new teams in your specific class, and you can choose to sign with those new teams. By unlocking teams, you'll eventually be able to work your way up to the pinnacle of the sport--MotoGP class--where you will be racing with the top two-wheel riders in the world.

Capcom debuted its MotoGP series on the PS2 last year. With MotoGP 08, the game comes to current-gen systems.
Capcom debuted its MotoGP series on the PS2 last year. With MotoGP 08, the game comes to current-gen systems.

As with the rest of the game, MotoGP's Career mode is very flexible in terms of setup. Difficulty comes across in a number of different ways--both in the strength of your AI opponents (for which there are four settings) and the handling of your bike (easy, advanced, simulation). We tried all three handling settings during our time with the game, and as you might expect, simulation riding is a much different experience from riding on an easy level. Feeling particularly masochistic, we took on a wet race at Laguna Seca in the full rain on sim settings, and, well, we fell. Multiple times. But, then again, we were asking for it.

Still, even on the slightly tamer advanced handling style, it was very easy to feel the bike slipping and sliding underneath our fingers, calling for delicate throttle and brake controls. Powersliding--that staple of advanced MotoGP video game fans--was in place in this game, letting you rip around quick corners by giving just enough throttle in deep corners, slipping the wheel out from under you, and leaving a trail of black rubber behind.

Capcom reps were quick to point out that the developers behind the game have worked to make this a more accessible MotoGP experience, at least more so than the company's promising but very difficult debut on the PlayStation 2. It's difficult to say if easier settings will attract non-MotoGP fans to the game, but those who are playing the game for the first time will probably have an easier time of it.

Naturally, MotoGP 08 will have the full MotoGP license, with real riders, such as Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi, as well as well as the full schedule of locales that make up the MotoGP tour. This includes old standbys, such as Philip Island, Mugello, and Jerez (all of which we tried during our time with the game). More-recent additions to the sport will also be included, such as Laguna Seca and new-for-this-year Indianapolis, which looks a lot like the old Formula One track at Indy--only run counterclockwise--and with a few more turns. Also, true to real life, the race in Qatar is run at night in the game, which makes for a slightly different experience.

In all, MotoGP 08 looks to strike a balance between veterans who have been playing MotoGP games since they were published by THQ and series newbs who've never played raced on anything with fewer than four wheels. We like what we've seen of this approach and look forward to playing more of the game in the coming weeks. MotoGP 08 is due for release in October on multiple platforms.

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