It feels like there has been a deluge of games that let you throw a bike around a dirt track recently.
In February there was the solid Monster Energy Supercross, in April there was the awful MX Vs. ATV All Out, and now we have Milestone’s latest entry in its MXGP series. Is MXGP Pro revolutionary? Unfortunately not. But it is perhaps the best MXGP game released to date.
I can see clearly
It’s clear from the moment that you launch MXGP Pro that it isn’t a simple rehash of last year’s MXGP3. Thrown straight into a tutorial, the first thing that hits you is how beautiful it looks. On Xbox One X it really looks phenomenal in motion. Textures are detailed and crisp, image quality is clean, and there are clear animation improvements. Clumps of dirt and mud are thrown at the screen as your bike’s wheels struggle to find grip, and with each lap you complete the track becomes increasingly deformed. Despite all this the framerate remains smooth, and there’s no screen tearing whatsoever.
MXGP Pro‘s beauty isn’t just skin deep, either. Under the hood, changes have been made to the handling and physics models to make it the most rewarding and authentic experience yet. With standard physics enabled you’re given some leeway to screw up and throw your bike around the track a little. Switch over to realistic physics, however, and you’re in for quite a challenge. To remain on your bike you’ll have to always consider your rider’s balance, approach corners strategically, and avoid tussling with the opposition. And whether or not you choose to make use of the game’s rewind feature is up to you.
More than any other MXGP game I’ve played, MXGP Pro made me strive to crank up the settings, though. The inclusion of tutorial challenges not only allow you to master advanced techniques like the scrub, but also reward you for doing so by providing permanent performance boosts to your created character. And there’s also a new training compound, allowing you to finely hone your skills in a small, open environment at your leisure. Never before has an MXGP game felt so welcoming to newcomers. And even seasoned veterans will appreciate to opportunity to better themselves.
It’s just a shame then, that beyond the gameplay and visual improvements, little else has changed.
Basically, MXGP Pro‘s range of modes just feel lacklustre. There are your usual GP, Time Attack and Championship modes, and you can also race online, but the game’s real draw is its Career mode. For the most part though, MXGP Pro‘s career mode is just business as usual, with you choosing a team to sign up with before making your way through both the MX2 and MXGP categories. You can improve the performance of your bike by taking on sponsors, who will occasionally provide you with objectives to meet, and there’s a rivalry system that rewards you for reacting to social media posts, but it all just feels perfunctory. Anything that doesn’t involve racing around a track feels like it’s just tacked on for the sake of it.
There is perhaps one addition to the career mode that might excite some, however: Extreme mode. Only for the brave, embarking on an Extreme Career removes your ability to change any difficulty or assist settings. You’ll also have to complete full events; making your through qualifiers etc rather than simply jumping into a couple of races. Without being able to use rewind, you’ll have to have your wits about you at all times. And the punishing AI and physics will make tweaking your bike’s settings essential for success. It won’t be suitable for everyone, but those who are up for a challenge will get a lot out of this new mode aimed at the hardcore.
If you don’t mind that its career mode doesn’t really have much pizzazz, MXGP Pro will provide you with many hours of dirty racing activity. As usual, its supporting range of modes don’t do a great deal to excite, but its new training options are a great way to get up to speed. Maybe next year Milestone will revitalise its career mode just as much has it done the visuals and core game mechanics this year. But until then, simply having the best playing MXGP game will have to do.