MXGP Pro (PlayStation 4) Review

By Tomas Barry 11.07.2018

Review for MXGP Pro on PlayStation 4

When it comes to churning out racing games, Milestone is top of the table by a significant margin. It has produced a handful of stellar one-off titles, such as Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, along with quite a few average ones, too, like the new IP, Gravel. It also created its very own motorbike franchise, Ride, which receives a third entry later this year. Primarily, however, it is known for handling an impressive variety of official racing licences, on both two wheels and four. This ranges from the seven entries in the WRC series, to the MotoGP franchise, which it still holds. The MXGP licence is one it has looked after since 2014, and MXGP Pro will be their fourth entry in this series, fresh off the back of MXGP3, which released in 2017. Why is this titled Pro rather than 4? Apparently, because Milestone wants to indicate that it's a brand new start.

Is it a brand new start, though? Well, there was a reason for providing an overview of Milestone's development history. It seems to be quite relentless in how it forces project after project down the production line. This is understandable with licensed titles, which are designed to sync up with real-life racing calendars. However, it's obviously not conducive for implementing wholesale fundamental changes, which is what 'a brand-new start' equates to. Granted, almost all iterative sporting titles are in the habit of promising exactly this, annually. The more specific problem with that for Milestone, however, is that it doesn't have the budget of a powerhouse like EA. Thus, juggling too many different projects possibly tends to result in the team stepping on each other's feet a little when it comes to fully realising its potential. That was likely the case with Valentino Rossi: The Game and [url= http://www.cubed3.com/review/3248/1/ride-2-xbox-one.html][i]Ride 2, for example, which released within four months of each other.

This reviewer has called several times for the team to allow future projects more breathing space, given how vastly superior the titles receiving that have been, like Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo. As already stated, this is not something that can be afforded to the officially licensed iterative game series. It is what it is, but it feels necessary, before going on, to point out that Milestone's workload this year equals its busiest year ever - since it has also put a new IP out and has Ride 3 on the horizon. Hence, while the team certainly has a talent for putting solid racers together quickly, it's noticeable that the clear majority are particularly average affairs. That's not to say the company isn't trying to emphasise the nuances of each specific racing series represented. It's just that, frankly, these projects probably don't very often get enough dedicated individual attention to reach that next level of detail. This is exemplified by that fact that pretty much all the racers have the same general strengths and weaknesses.

Screenshot for MXGP Pro on PlayStation 4

With MXGP, then, on the one hand, it's tempting to say Milestone has done a good job, with the implied time constraints and the tools it has at its disposal. On the other, it's hard to resist pointing out that MXGP is very much a repackaged, retuned experience, rather than something that implements fundamental changes, as touted. Those who played last year's MXGP3 will find this to be a very familiar experience, as only some of the ideas that version introduced have been unpacked and extrapolated further. One good example of this is the free-roam compound. In the previous version, this was just one track. Now, there's one for Motocross and one for Supercross, and it's much larger, with various off road areas sporting different terrains. This is useful for getting used to the physics behaviour, as well as the different bike types. The compound also hosts the new training mode, which is a welcome addition for those who don't know much about how different bike types handle, or about how to traverse different terrain types, and handle wet weather.

The main addition to MXGP Pro, however, is its 'PRO Physics.' These are a series of changes and additions to the handling and bike behaviour that improves the realism factor quite a bit. Players can now properly take advantage of the starting grid, with much more detailed clutch control for launch. Likewise, there's a more tactile sense of braking precision, which means it's more important to have good timing on the brakes than previously. Milestone has also improved air control, making it easier to use techniques like whipping and scrubbing. In addition, mud ruts are much more authentically represented. They are tougher to navigate, and those who adopt careful handling through them can now actually find a tactical advantage. This is how it should be, and it makes races feel more genuinely rewarding.

Screenshot for MXGP Pro on PlayStation 4

That being said, this iteration suffers from a longstanding issue with most other Milestone racers, too, including MotoGP 18. It is that AI drivers are quite problematic. On the plus side, ramp up the difficulty settings and they will prove to be very challenging in terms of their standards of racing. The problem, however, is that they are very robotic. You don't see drivers taking different lines, even when it comes to launching over jumps, and they seem to be impervious to contact, which is just unrealistic. This is a fundamental flaw that undercuts the effectiveness of efforts to heighten realism in other areas. Given the choice, most might think players would prefer more lifelike AI drivers, who take tumbles, over the improved realism features. More to the point, this has been an issue for some time, so it's hard to understand why it's been overlooked again. It's probably less noticeable here than in MotoGP 18, but it's disappointing that it's an issue again, which affects multiple series.

The career mode is a very standard affair, but it's a respectable framework that doesn't overlook anything. There are over one thousand different customisable parts for bikes, both aesthetic and performance enhancing. This aspect of player customisation contributes quite a lot towards the well-implemented sense of progression. While the rider grafts away, perfecting their craft, the bigger sponsorship deals roll in and better contract opportunities arise. As the credits start to flow, with every upgrade the bikes feel better and better, and the player feels more like a championship contender in the making. Racers even start to get more invested in their colours and liveries as time goes on. The fact that the player has so much control over the finer details helps to hold the interest here. It is odd that it features the full racing calendar from 2017, rather than the current season, but at least it's authentically represented, and looks fantastic.

Screenshot for MXGP Pro on PlayStation 4

There's also now an extreme career mode, which removes all aids and the rewind feature. Seasoned veterans and those who are very knowledgeable of the world of MXGP will find this enticing. However, the previously mentioned AI issues do undermine the premise of an ultra-tough, ultra-realistic setting like this. There's nothing worse than concentrating extra hard to make it through an event mid-pack, only to be clattered into by a driver who miraculously carries on their merry way, whilst you go headfirst into a ditch. When you can easily defeat yourself by missing your braking points, miscalculating a jump, or failing to find traction through a rut, it's incredibly annoying to meet your demise in this fashion. As such, players will need a strong stomach to persist with a full career mode season using the extreme settings. For some, it may be worth it for much bigger credit bonuses and unique unlocks. Most people, however, should probably stick to the standard version.

The common strength of Milestone's racers is that the team accommodates both casual players looking for more forgiving physics models, and those looking for a simulative experience. Once again, it has achieved that quite well here. While there are standard presets to choose from, players can customise the rider aids to their heart's content, meaning everyone should be able to find a sweet spot. However, some might speculate whether the developer would be more successful overall if it fully committed to one side of the spectrum or the other. It's a 'Jack of all trades, master of none' type of situation. MXGP Pro isn't fluid enough to be an arcade hit, but neither does it take its simulative qualities seriously enough to challenge the likes of MX Simulator, as the most realistic motocross experience around. While it's a good thing to be versatile, it's possible this is one reason why the series has remained so average in recent times. There's a lot of incremental progress here and there, on both sides, but never any big jumps.

Screenshot for MXGP Pro on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

All of Milestone's racers impress and disappoint in the same ways, and that hasn't changed here. MXGP succeeds in catering for both a casual audience and the hardcore fans, but neither will feel particularly satisfied with their serving. That's especially true in the case of MXGP Pro, because the 'Pro' subtitle was bound to raise expectation levels. While minor enhancements are always welcome, it's far too much of an incremental process across iterations here, making it difficult to recommend to anyone who bought MXGP3. The assumed time constraints and the developer's 'one size fits all' approach to generating improvements (where only additions that can be diffused across all its franchises seem to be encouraged) is now a significant source of frustration. While MXGP Pro is mostly an attractive, enjoyable experience, that represents the sport quite well, even avid fans should ponder long and hard over its longstanding flaws before indulging.

Developer

MileStone

Publisher

MileStone

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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