The Superbike series hasn't seen a video game since the splendid EA published series stopped appearing on the PC in 2001. Some six years later developer Milestone is back, this time under the wing of Black Bean Games, to once again give bike fans an alternative to MotoGP.
Superbikes are - to put it rather bluntly - modded bikes, the kind that you can buy from bike showrooms across the world. Because of this the sport has a large following from the tuning and modding community, and Milestone has attempted to please all of them by delivering a game that's high on detail but not off-putting to casual followers.
This has been pulled off pretty successfully thanks to plenty of customisation options. Players who want the speed and thrills without needing the skills can hop onto a bike and forget about the many difficulties that real riders face, but hardened fans can race with full simulation physics, meaning keeping the bike on the tarmac becomes a hell of a lot harder. In-between players can fiddle with the options to get the right balance, and the whole game can be played as you want.
11 tracks are on offer and this should be plenty for fans to get to grips with. This number might sound a little small compared to other racers on the market, but perfecting your racing line on each takes a long time, especially if you want to race without all the assists enabled. As you'd expect, the core mode is the full championship, with takes you on a tour of the tracks and includes all the pre-race events, such as qualifying and practice sessions. Challenge mode adds some 'I'll just give it one more go' appeal due to its strictness, while the time trial mode is there for perfectionists.
As entertaining as SBK '07 is on the track, it's hard to ignore the pretty rough visuals and rather crude presentation. 14 riders are on track at once (not as many as in the PS2 game), and this has clearly had a negative effect on the trackside detail. What's there is minimal and pretty ugly, meaning you're going to want to concentrate on the tarmac in front of you - not that this is too pretty either. The frame rate is smooth though, which is key to a game that relies on its sense of speed, but other racers on the PSP look far more impressive. Bike audio is solid, but the noise you'd associate with the events themselves is strangely muted, making races feel a little sterile.
Multiplayer racing is limited to four players via local wi-fi, and there are numerous options to set things up how you want. Online play is completely absent, as are online leaderboards, so for the most part you'll have to be content with racing against the AI riders.
SBK '07 succeeds at being accessible to casual Superbike fans while also catering for the hardcore market. Without any online modes though, and a lack of visual polish, it's a game that will struggle to appeal to players wanting more than a basic racing sim. As the first game in a new series SBK '07 is a solid effort, but work needs to be done if superbikes are going to become a prominent fixture in the gaming calendar.
VideoGamer.com Score7 Score out of 10
- Solid sim gameplay
- Lots of depth for a handheld game
- Multiplayer modes aren't great
- Drab visuals