Riding a motorcycle is a technical affair at the best of times. It is extremely different from other forms of motorised transportation, purely because the actual physical body of the rider comes into play. And riding a motorcycle of dirt is very different from other surfaces, too, because the balance and road holding offer all kinds of challenges to the rider. This is what makes people who compete in dirt biking as a sport such impressive riders. They have an extremely deep understanding of the technical side of their machines, and they can apply this knowledge at a moment’s notice – like when picking out the best racing line.
That’s not something people deciding to enjoy the virtual version of the sport, in the form of MXGP 3, will need to worry about. It seems that the line doesn’t really matter as much here. Just blasting around the track is good enough, really, which is odd when considering that the game will require the player to take certain technical ideas into account.
That’s really the theme here – some things you need to worry about, and others you need to ignore. The end result is a game that can be fun to play, but it cannot really be considered a simulation. Rather, MXGP 3 comes across like an arcade racer, which is something that developers Milestone have been struggling with since the series first fired up three years ago.
In fact, it is something that Milestone struggle with in most of their games. The real problem is that, in this particular case, if any progress has been made, it isn’t obvious. Rather, it seems that Milestone have put all their efforts into making the game look good, rather than feel good. This is the best looking MXGP game yet. However, some things still need a little work – most notably the new dynamic weather system. While this system does add a nice new element to the mechanics of the game, it doesn’t look great. The rain, in particular, is disappointing, and the on-off nature of the weather (rather than using some kind of transition system) is jarring.
There are, naturally, a number of tweaks and changes that can be made to the way the game handles, making it more accessible or more challenging. This can improve things a bit when playing but caution needs to be exercised when handling the changes. That’s because they can be extremely finicky. Tweaking just a little too much in the wrong direction can have wide reaching and disastrous results.
The career mode will keep you busy as you work yourself from the bottom of the pile to the pinnacle of off-road racing, of course. But it, like almost every other aspect of MXGP 3, falls prey to the notion that there simply isn’t enough new here to warrant another iterated release. In fact, the whole experience feels like you’ve done this before, improved visuals aside, and it seems unclear on where Milestone is heading with this series… other than trying to make it look better.
And that’s a real pity because, quite frankly, the world needs a great dirt bike racing simulator. Sure, it’s a pretty niche market overall, but there is still a market for it. Unfortunately, MXGP 3 doesn’t feel like it is taking the right steps to get to that point. It can be fun to play, sure, but ultimately is stays mired in the world of arcade-style racing, and those that want a really technical simulator will likely find it wanting.
While the visuals are better and questionable dynamic weather has been added, there really isn’t much in MXGP 3 that we haven’t seen before from the franchise.