After years of MotoGP games arriving on Xbox and PlayStation formats from different developers and publishers, Capcom is finally bringing us a game to unify the formats. MotoGP 08 from established racing game developer Milestone is coming to Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii and PS2. At Games Convention 2008 we got a chance to see the Xbox 360 version in action for the first time, and we're glad to report that the licence appears to be in good hands.
It's almost impossible to get a feel for a racing sim during a brief 20-minute demonstration, but our Capcom rep did a good job at showing us the ins and outs of the career mode. To begin with you're a lowly ranked racer, so you can't simply hop straight into a full-on MotoGP season. As is the way in sim racers you need to work at a career, starting from the bottom (125cc), moving up the ranks through 250cc and eventually into the MotoGP class.
Our first taste of in-game action came on the Qatar circuit, raced at night. Before each race you get a flyby of the track - useful for familiarising yourself with the circuit - and then you're off. 35 racers will be on the track, making for a racing experience that few other games can offer. We saw the game being played with the driving model set to Arcade, which allowed the Capcom rep to take some liberties with cornering, but on full simulation things aren't nearly as forgiving. It's safe to say that the first corner during a simulation race will be extremely daunting for even the most experienced gamers.
It seems as though this Milestone developed racer won't dabble with any non-official tracks (as the Climax MotoGP series did with its Extreme mode), but it will include all the tracks from MotoGP - even the new Indianapolis track. Motorbike racing fans may well know that Milestone developed the recently released SBK 08 - not a bad game by any means, but a game that didn't really make the most of next-gen hardware. MotoGP 08 looks far more impressive than SBK, to the extent that we didn't even link the developer to SBK until our Capcom rep pointed it out. Race info is also displayed, letting you know who's overtaken who and various other key data.
As you progress through your career you'll earn points used to upgrade your bike (max speed, acceleration, breaking and traction), unlock new teams and race classes. You can only change your bike and team at the end of a season, but to get an idea of what will need to be done in order to move through the classes, it'll take six race wins in order to move from 125cc to 250cc. Career racing isn't all the game has to offer, with the usual array of Quick Race, Time Trial and Online modes - 12 players and custom championship options.
So far so good then. Milestone appears to have raised its game considerably compared to SBK 08, delivering a game that is more in-line with what next-gen console owners expect from racing simulations. According to Capcom the PS3 version should match the Xbox 360 game, although it's currently a few weeks behind. Sadly there won't be any Trophy support, but Xbox 360 gamers will get the usual Achievements. The PC game should be comparable to the next-gen games, while the Wii and PS2 versions will obviously look very different. The Wii game will also use the Wii Remote as handlebars, giving it more mainstream appeal.
Xbox 360 owners have already experienced next-gen MotoGP from Climax and THQ and PS3 owners expect the very best from their console, so Capcom's MotoGP has a lot to live up to. Extended hands-on time is needed to see if Capcom is off to a winning start, and we won't have to wait too much longer. MotoGP 08 is due for release on October 24.