For its time MGP2 was the best in its class.
MGP2 offers five areas of play: Quick Match, Career Mode, Stunt Mode, Time Trial and the fifth and best area, Multiplayer. In Quick Match you grab a bike and rider, select a track and then hit the tarmac. This is strictly a free race and you don't earn anything in this mode that is beneficial to you in Career Mode. Stunt Mode is new to the series and relies more on skill than speed. Players are allowed to run through all of the tracks and must complete their laps within an allotted time limit. Any remaining time that is left on your counter when you finish is then converted over to points which are used to unlock extra riders and bikes. Time Trial is really a practice mode where you're allowed to race on any previously raced tracks to improve your skills and improve your time on that specific track.
The bulk of the game resides primarily in the Career Mode. This is the area where you can create your own rider and design your own bike. It goes without saying that this is where you will find yourself spending the most time. You can select a color scheme for your bike as well as the leathers you wear. To further add uniqueness you can choose to either emblazon a logo or image on the side of your bike. You compete in sixteen races in a given season to earn points for your rider which in turn you use to improve your stats such as cornering, breaking, acceleration and top speed. Starting out will take time, practice and patience as you won't find yourself with the meanest or fastest bike on the track as a rookie. This is where your mastery of skills is crucial, as you will mostly rely on them to make up for some of your bike's inherent weaknesses. It is also a good idea to race a qualifying race before attempting the real deal. This provides two advantages: 1. You race the track beforehand and get used to the layout, and 2. you get the chance to qualify in a higher position than you would if you just started the race. If you don't qualify you automatically start in 20th position and have to fight your way to the head of the pack, so it's definitely in your favor to qualify. You get ten minutes to make the best lap time. You'll also be qualifying simultaneously with the other nineteen bikes you'll be racing against during the official race. You start out at a mere crawl emerging from the pit area and then proceed to the open road to do the best you can.
Aside from competing in the grand prix race and earning points there are also several challenges included with each track that are designed to help improve your performance as well as allowing you to earn extra points upon successful completion of the challenge. There are sixty-one challenges to complete on three difficulty levels. You earn one point after each completion. There are seven challenge modes that are designed to help hone your biking skills both in career mode and Live play which include: Racing Line, Follow the Leader, Slalom, Speedtrap, Training Maneuvers, Wheelies and Powerslide. Once you feel comfortable enough from playing the single player game and challenges you might want to try your skills on-line through Live against other players. MGP2 really shines in the multiplayer arena supporting up to four players, or get system link action going and play against sixteen players. But the core multiplayer experience is on Xbox Live, and it really is the most enjoyable aspect of MGP2's gameplay. Racing and talking smack against sixteen other players on Live will never get old. As soon as you start MGP2 (provided you have Live) you are prompted to log in to your on-line account before you can even pick which mode you want to play. Finding matches is as easy as turning on your Xbox. From Quick Matches to Opti-matches; you'll never have a problem finding a race that suits your tastes. Voice communication is just as simple: As soon as you're in the lobby of a race just start talking. You don't have to worry about finding an awkwardly placed button to talk. Another nice feature is that when the race begins you can even listen to your custom tunes while playing on Live. The framerate on Live is beautiful and you'll seldom if ever experience any lag even with a full sixteen players racing. The implementation of Live is flawless and a great multiplayer experience.
Control is superb and every button on the controller is utilized and has a function. But some gamers who are used to racing the four-wheeled variety will perhaps find control a little frustrating at first, and they might find themselves severely understeering or oversteering when taking that first turn in the track. Practice makes perfect, though. When you learn the intimate mechanics needed to control a bike it actually becomes quite fun. Proper braking techniques are also required to utilize a perfect turn. The only time you might have more trouble than usual with control is during inclement weather. There are three weather effects ranging from bright sunny days to rain. Rain on the tarmac will drastically reduce your control of the bike and you'll notice it the first time you take a turn at 60mph and wipe out on that same turn that you could take on sunny conditions at the same speed. Each type of bike you choose handles uniquely, so you determining which bike you want becomes important. New powerful four-stroke bikes are available which handle completely differently than the two-stroke bikes. So deciding on which bike you want will also effect your learning curve as far as control. All in all, MGP2 makes a solid offering in the gameplay department.
Graphics are crisp and clean and a definite improvement over MGP2's predecessor. To summarize in one word: Top notch. When you race in rainy weather rain drops splatter against your screen realistically and water sprays away from your back tire as you race down the wet tarmac, while lightning flashes beautifully in the sky. If you slide off track (which you inevitably will once in a while) your tires pick up mud. Then you can watch as that mud quickly dissipates once you get back on the wet track and start racing again. The crashes are especially entertaining. Your riders will do everything from fly over their handle bars if they happen to be unfortunate enough to hit another bike that's crashed on the track, to getting a serious case of road rash from losing control during a turn. Character animations are also entertaining. If another rider is bumping into you, your rider might look back and shake his fist in frustration. Pass someone on the course and your biker will make a fleeting glance backwards as if to say, "See ya later!" Everything is superb; from wipeouts and crash and burns to weather effects.
For those with home theaters, Dolby Digital will really add a significant realism factor to gameplay. You'll be able hear as bikers speed up from behind you and pass you on either side in a cacophony of revving engines and sputtering exhaust pipes. Everything sounds authentic, but for the most part the sound takes a backseat to gameplay, and aside from the whining engines or the occasional wipe out sounds of metal sliding across asphalt, sound effects are minimal. The accompanying soundtrack is not too shabby, but you'll most likely want to add your own custom soundtracks to listen while you race.
The Live aspect of MGP2 offers an endless variety of replayability and it might be the only option you find yourself playing. Indeed, the most addicting feature in this game, you will spend hours on end on Live. It will be 4AM and you'll be saying to yourself, "Just one more race! Just one more!" And that "one more race" turns out to be thirty and the next thing you know the sun is coming up. Yes, my friends, it is that good. Certainly every race is different, and you'll never know who or what you might encounter during one. And while the single-player elements will keep you interested, the Live play is just altogether captivating.
Proving to be a worthy sequel to an already superb game. Definitely worth the price of admission and it will keep you occupied for months to come. I wholeheartedly recommend this game for fans of motorcycle racers and racing in general.