Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: January 12, 2018
MXGP 3: The Official Motocross Videogame is a Motocross simulation racing game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Milestone has a great pedigree of not only developing great racing games, but priding themselves on the authenticity of the racing experience which is what has forged their history of exceptional sports racing games as the Italian passion of motorsports radiates from their games in the home of Ferrari, although they have been especially prolific with multiple iterations throughout various forms of motorbike racing from SBK to MotoGP to Motocross. Can Milestone’s third entry in the MXGP series improve upon its two prequels?
MXGP 3 features all of the official licenses for the 2016 season which comprises of 18 tracks situated in various locations around the world including: Losail, Qatar; Suphan Buri, Thailand; Valkenswaard, Netherlands; Neuquen, Argentina; Leon, Mexico; Kegums, Latvia; Teutschenthal, Germany; Pietramurata, Italy; Talavera de la Reina, Spain; Saint Jean d’ Angély, France; Matterley Basin, Great Britain; Mantova, Italy; Loket, Czech Republic; Lommel, Belgium; Frauenfeld-Gachnang, Switzerland; Assen, Netherlands; Charlotte, USA; and Glen Helen, USA. There are 63 professional riders with each of their respective bikes and teams such as Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, Red Bull KTM, Suzuki, TM Racing and Yamaha with their respective specifications of MX1 and MX2 bikes.
The game begins with some rider customisation which allows you to customise your rider licence from your rider’s personal data including their first name, surname, nickname, nationality, 4 skin colours, racing number, 5 font styles, numerous font and number colours and a team name. The next major steps include choosing a manufacturer such as Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, TM Racing and Yamaha followed by selecting a logo from the available 10 pre-set logos, choosing a portrait photo from a pre-set of 12 personal managers and 11 team managers. Further rider customisation is available from the customisation menu including two separate default outfits which you can customise to your preferences comprising of 20 helmet manufacturers, 11 suppliers of goggles, 15 manufacturers of racing suits, 13 suppliers of boots and 6 manufacturers of neck braces with each manufacturer or supplier of equipment having their own range of designs to choose from costing varying prices for each type of racing gear. Bike customisation covers the MXGP and MX2 categories with the ability to purchase four new bikes from all seven manufacturers in 4-stroke and 2-stroke variants within both categories for differing prices.
Career mode features both categories of bikes including MX1 and MX2 and sees you attempting to progress from wild card to pro. MX2 is the lowest category and this is where you will start off competing against young riders as you attempt to prove yourself worthy of racing against the veterans of Motocross in the MX1 category. You will initially have three sponsorship offers that afford you the funding to be able to travel and compete in races in your own private team with the same quality of sponsor reward that are all looking to sponsor a rider that can finish in at least 15th position come the end of the championship. In between every race weekend you will be able to read your e-mails from your personal manager and team manager providing various advice for the season and races ahead, alongside the percentage of interest that other teams possess in wanting to sign you to ride for their MX1 or MX2 team or sponsors wanting to provide sponsorship for your independent team. You can also customise your rider, bike and team appearance and visit the compound for some pre-race weekend preparations in addition to viewing the location of the current race weekend; your current team objective; your current ability; and your rider challenge.
Your first season in MXGP will see you participating for a trial period as a wild card rider in the MX2 category for two race weekends comprising of a practice session, qualifying session and two races with the first race weekend at Kegums, Latvia and the second race weekend at Matterley Basin, Great Britain. When the trial period has been completed; you will face the tough decision of remaining an independent team supported by whatever sponsorship can be secured or to look for an offer from an already established MX2 team for the full season up ahead. The second season is technically your first complete season in the MX2 category of Motocross as the first season was only a trial period, so whereas the first season only had two race weekends; the second season is a complete season with 18 race weekends each consisting of a practice session, qualifying session and two races that will see you racing on a global stage. Your second season is of arguably greater importance than the trial period of the first season; as it will provide you with multiple opportunities to join a team in the MX1 category to establish yourself in amongst the Motocross elite during your third season, although you will always have the support and advice of your personal manager and team manager throughout all of the events that shape the season.
Given how similar MXGP 3’s Career mode is to that of MXGP 1 and 2; it would have been nice to see some more variation such as taking a page out of MotoGP 17’s book by introducing a Career Manager mode in which the player would have a greater focus on guiding the team to success through efficiently allocating resources.
Grand Prix mode provides the opportunity of racing on a single track with the ability to have a single race, double race, qualifying and races or a full race weekend in a race against 21 opponents. When you select the Grand Prix mode; you can choose the MX category you prefer between MX1 and MX2, were you can choose from any of the official riders from your preferred MX category or alternatively select your custom rider, while you can also select a particular 2-stroke or 4-stroke bike and team of your preference or your custom bike and custom team, alongside any of the 18 tracks in addition to adjusting the weather conditions, race length from 3 to 20 laps, A.I. difficulty, physics, riding assists and the choice of rewinds to your ideal preferences.
Championship mode allows you to create your own championship season comprising of races against 21 opponents which is customisable to your preferences as the championship will be the 18 race calendar of the MXGP season, although you can customise the race calendar to a minimum of 4 races and a maximum of 18 races comprising of repeating your favourite tracks anywhere amongst the calendar as many times as you wish within a championship season with the same riders, bikes, teams, race options and riding aids as Grand Prix mode.
Time Attack mode provides you with the opportunity to set the best lap time around any of the 19 tracks in an attempt to climb the leaderboards of the fastest times as you compete against players from across the world to see who performs the best lap time in a one lap scenario, although you can complete as many laps as you wish with a full selection of riders, bikes and teams from MX1 and MX2 categories or your custom rider, while you can also customise weather conditions and riding aids to your ideal preferences.
MXoN returns after initially being introduced in MXGP 2 which sees riders from around the world teaming up in groups of three per team to represent a total of 23 nationalities with three races taking place on each track across a total of five tracks including Maggiora, Italy; Lommel, Belgium; Matterley Basin, Great Britain; Teutschenthal, Germany; and Kegums, Latvia. Each track has an MXGP and MX2 combined category in which MX1 and MX2 bikes can compete in the same race as well as an MX2 Open category that is only for MX2 bikes and an MXGP Open category which is only available for MX1 bikes. The points system is worked differently by combining the positions of two riders from the same nationality, therefore two riders finishing a race in third and seventh position will have 10 points; resulting in each rider and nationality racing for the smallest amount of points to represent positive finishing positions, although in a further stipulation the worst result across the three races from each nationality will be removed which is a positive as it increases the chances of any nationality winning the three race event per track as it does not mean that a single collision could cost the nationality you are representing the MXoN championship.
Test Track from MXGP 2 returns in the guise of Compound; which is once more the area where you should start riding a bike as it provides players with massive intertwining tracks for the purpose of becoming familiar with the handling, bumps, track surfaces, weather conditions and more besides which players can roam freely even to the point of taking off-track detours around camper vans and the ability to choose from a full selection of riders, bikes and teams from MX1 and MX2 categories or your custom rider as well as adjusting the weather conditions, physics, riding assists and the amount of rewinds to your ideal preferences.
Two of the major features that made MXGP 2 stand apart from the competition were the introduction of the Stadium Series that allowed players to compete in football arenas and diamond stadiums, while Real Events mode provided 19 real-life scenarios accompanied by video footage of what actually happened in which players would have to replicate the comeback through the field or re-write history by earning a more positive result. Given how there is always drama in every season of motorsports at one time or another; it is a rather odd omission for the Real Events mode to not be retained, while the removal of the Stadium Series mode can be forgiven as Milestone Italy’s official Supercross videogame massively expands upon the mode introduced in MXGP 2.
There is an interesting approach to XP and levelling up as your customised rider begins at level 40 throughout four major skills including braking, rain ability, throttle management and control with each skill improving after every race in any mode depending on your finishing position and weather conditions. A further form of XP is reputation points which are earned by the race weekend position, achieving team objectives, winning the rider challenge, achieving a holeshot in races and the difficulty of your chosen game options which is all important as the higher amount of reputation points accumulated will result in an increase in the interest received by sponsors and teams during Career mode, therefore you have to earn the next step up with better results rather than it just being handed to you automatically for completing a season.
Every track surface regardless of if it is hard pack, intermediate or sand features a strong amount of track deformation which is brought about by the tyres carving a path through the dirt and mud. As a total of 22 bikes produce tyre tracks; it is only a matter of time before the track feels completely different to when the race had started. The difference in the track is due to the dispersal of the dirt and mud being flicked up in the process of the tyre tracks being embedded into the mud; potentially affecting the grip and traction of the bike resulting in you having to change your approach to the optimal racing line.
A major feature introduced in MXGP 3 is weather conditions that reflect the scale of weather options from Milestone Italy’s MotoGP series. However, when applying wet weather conditions to MXGP’s very realistic track surface and deformation; potential of further track evolution is increased exponentially as wet weather conditions change the density of the mud and the surrounding track surface. Weather conditions include clear blue skies with no risk of rain; cloudy with a possibility of rain; light rain within the race; torrential rain throughout the duration of the race; a wet track; and even random weather conditions that are capable of presenting any form of weather in the build-up to and during the race. All weather conditions are modelled accurately to present a unique challenge as each type of weather will make your bike behave differently; especially considering how track surfaces deform depending on the weather conditions.
A further significant inclusion in MXGP 3 is the much requested 2-stroke bikes in which your custom rider will have 10 2-stroke bikes available for purchase that can be utilised in any mode from such manufacturers as Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, TM and Yamaha. 2-stroke bikes are complimented by subtle details including having their own physics and audio that is entirely separate from the modern 4-stroke bikes, therefore serving the purpose of appropriate realism by making the 2-stroke bikes feel genuinely unique in comparison to 4-stroke bikes.
There are four slots available in your garage to purchase and store customised bikes from each manufacturer in both categories, although there is only a single slot for a bike available from each manufacturer at first with the second becoming available after you have purchased the first for 10,000 credits and so on for each new slot in the garage of each new manufacturer. Motocross bikes are split into MX1 and MX2 categories with the MX1 category being the more prominent and faster class of bikes in comparison to the MX2 category. The technical specifications of the MX1 category bikes range from 175cc up to 250cc for 2-stroke engines and 290cc up to 450cc for 4-stroke engines, while the MX2 category bikes range from 100cc up to 125cc for 2-stroke engines and 175cc up to 250cc for 4-stroke engines. Every bike offers varying attributes including acceleration, braking power, speed and handling which can all be customised. The bike customisation is reminiscent to that of the original Gran Turismo as you start off with the basic form of the bike and progressively improve the performance via a variety of categories including exhaust; tyres; rims; suspension; and brake discs, while every category has multiple brands providing their components at various qualities which can be upgraded with in-game currency which is earned by completing races as high up the field as possible. There are numerous visual changes that do not enhance performance including a graphic kit; clamps; hubs; foot pegs; levers; brake; and clutch caps; clutch cover; spokes; nipples; brake cables; and side number colour in addition to handlebars; hand grips; bar pad; hand guards; and adjusting accessory colours. The initial quality of a component is usually between 5 to 7 gradually improving towards the maximum quality of 10; for instance the stock exhaust for the Yamaha YZ450F in the MX1 category includes an acceleration of 7.3 and a speed of 7.2, while the Yoshimura RS-4 brand upgrade enhances both acceleration and speed to 8.1 and 8.0 for a price of 1,800 credits, 8.8 and 8.7 for a cost of 2,500 credits and up to 9.8 and 9.8 for a price of 4,000 credits.
Players can change the setup of your bike in the pits which can potentially provide a significant performance advantage if you experiment enough in an attempt to absolutely perfect your bike setup for each track. The bike setup is spread across two categories including suspension and transmission with each category having various settings such as the ability to change the preload, spring stiffness, compression damping and rebound damping for the front and rear of the bike in addition to selecting a short, medium or long gear ratio. There are also options to save, load or delete your preferred bike setups and to return your bike setup to the default factory settings.
MXGP 3 does away with the slide bar to re-position the third-person camera angle; instead providing two third-person perspectives positioned directly behind the rider and further behind the rider, while also retaining the first-person perspective of the action from the front of the rider’s crash helmet.
The free camera available from the pause menu allows you to observe the closer details of the racing in the foreground and trackside environments. Free camera really is a great feature; allowing the camera to be positioned with freedom within the vicinity of the racing action including extensive customisation of images such as panning, camera height, zooming in or out, anywhere from a minor tilt to a full sideways tilt and six image filters in a fully immersive environment which works in perfect harmony with the PS4’s share feature.
You can watch a full race replay with the ability to watch in slow motion, pause, fast forward, rewind, change the camera angles for a different view of the action and to view the action from the previous or next rider, restart the replay or enter the free camera feature. You can view the replay from six camera angles including a dynamic camera angle positioned away from the bike with the TV camera angle changing from camera to camera in the style of Gran Turismo, while the two third-person camera angles are positioned directly and further behind the rider to provide a view of the bike and the track surface up ahead amongst the surrounding environments. There are also three first-person camera angles with the first mounted to the front of the rider’s crash helmet showing the front of the bike with the rider’s hands gripping the handlebars, a second camera is mounted to the side of the crash helmet and shows more of the bike and handlebars and a third camera is mounted to the front of the handlebars overlooking the front of the bike. Every replay camera angle showcases the physicality endured by the bike and rider throughout each race as the riders explore the bumpy deformed terrain. It would be great to see some of these camera angles make the transition from replays to gameplay such as the additional two crash helmet mounted camera angles and the Gran Turismo style dynamic TV coverage; as they are that good and would further complement the immersion within the authenticity of the racing experience. It would have been amazing for the gameplay and replay camera angles to include a helicopter camera angle from high above the circuit following the action with the sound effect of the helicopter in the audio mix.
The extras feature includes a breakdown of your offline stats including your rider’s total distance covered; the amount of air your rider has accumulated while jumping; your overall amount of time spent playing; the amount of times your rider has fell from his bike; the amount of holeshots you have achieved; the amount of race victories, second place finishes and third place finishes; the amount of Grand Prix wins, second place and third place finishes; the amount of completed races; and the amount of pole positions. Statistics are complimented by a separate feature that guides players towards improving their statistics through a range of 11 written and illustrated tutorials which provide the detailed step-by-step guide on engaging the clutch; cornering techniques; jumping techniques; controlling the positioning of your bike in the air; and how to perfect your scrubbing technique before hitting the track for the first time.
There are multiple downloadable content packs available including the Super Motocross Riders Cup, three additional MXGP tracks from the 2015 championship featuring Nakhonchaisri, Villars sous Ecot and Uddevalla and a credits multiplier, while also being available as part of a season pass to effectively pre-order each of the content packs at a cheaper bundled price of £11.99.
It is disappointing not to see a Vita release of MXGP 3 after the excellent retail releases for MUD and MXGP on Vita, although the consolation is remote play. MXGP 3’s remote play performance is excellent as the graphics, audio and general performance is the same quality as the PS4 version. There is only a minimal amount of remote play control scheme optimisation resulting in holding the bottom right of the touch screen to accelerate and holding the bottom left of the touch screen to brake which is most certainly not ideal and does not lend itself to racing on a deformable track. Given that rather strangely acceleration cannot be mapped to R1; I found the most competitive yet simultaneously comfortable remote play control scheme to be that of emulating the core control scheme of a PS1 era racing game by re-mapping acceleration to X and braking to square, while moving gear shifting up to triangle and gear shifting down to O for those who prefer to manually shift gears instead of automatic gear shifts, alongside mapping the rear brake to the bottom right of the touch screen and looking behind your rider by tapping the bottom left of the touch screen.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller and are almost fully customisable. The default control scheme consists of holding R2 to accelerate; pressing L2 to use the front brake or reverse; pressing L1 to use the clutch; pressing R1 to rewind the action following a collision or a general loss of track time; pressing X to use the rear brake; pressing triangle to look back behind your bike; pressing O to manually shift up a gear; pressing square to manually shift down a gear; moving the direction of the left analogue stick to the left or right to steer your bike accordingly; moving the direction of the right analogue stick forwards, backwards, left or right to appropriately distribute your rider’s weight; pressing left or right on the d-pad to look to the left or right respectively; pressing down on the d-pad to respawn on track following a crash or loss of direction; holding R1 to chat in online multiplayer; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.
Despite the customisable control scheme; there is no way of mapping the steering to the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality and the touch pad can only be mapped to once instead of the left and right sides having their own purpose. It is surprising as the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality could have provided an alternative steering method to the left analogue stick, while the touch pad implementation is under utilised as it only changes the camera angle, whereas an optional control scheme from MotoGP 13 on Vita included tapping the appropriate side of the rear touch pad to shift up or down a gear. There is a lot of vibration from the DualShock 4 controller which certainly adds to the immersion of riding over the terrain as the controller will vibrate during sharp turns, upon landing after a large jump with plenty of air and even during crashes with your rider falling off his bike or collisions with other bikes. The light bar produces white for a neutral gear on the starting grid, while green ensures the rider is safely within gear at a low gear ratio, yellow represents a medium gear ratio to show the rider should start preparing to shift up a gear and light to dark orange fading into red signifies that it is time to shift up a gear at the end of the gear ratio.
Milestone Italy has upgraded its graphics engine to Unreal Engine 4 resulting in the best looking Motocross game up to the point of its release. The two noticeable areas in which the move to Unreal Engine 4 has definitely benefited MXGP 3’s graphical fidelity is the lighting as best evidenced amongst the moonlit skies of Losail, Qatar and the further significant improvement in track deformation, while bike and rider models and trackside details all look better than previous MXGP games.
MXGP 3’s presentation is not as slick and polished as previous games in the series due to the removal of pre-race videos that were utilised to build-up the pre-race anticipation. However, the general presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, Career menus, Grand Prix menus, Championship menus, Time Attack menus, MXoN menus, Compound menus, online multiplayer menus, online leaderboards, customise menus, extras menus, options menus and various gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons on the DualShock 4 controller, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick or touch pad. Instead of retaining the style of MXGP 2’s presentation through showcasing the world’s best Motocross bikes and riders in dramatic slow motion video during the menu screens; MXGP 3’s main menus display an image of a rider on his bike with a deformed track surface around him as bright particle effects float across the bottom of the screen and an image of mud from a Motocross track accompanies other menus, while the loading screens contain the logo, name, length, ground type and circuit layout of the track you are about to race on.
Sound effects are integral to the racing action that unfolds on track as you hear revving bike engines, applying brakes, heavy landings after large jumps and crashes, accompanied by an atmospheric crowd with air horns, gasps and applause in appreciation of the riders during the build-up to each session and throughout each session as the riders are on track. However, voice-overs covering gameplay narration and your rider’s management team has been surprisingly replaced with text, while the appropriate soundtrack of rock riffs has been changed to a less favourable fusion of techno and electronica that may be relevant to futuristic racing games, but is not fitting within the world of Motocross. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation, although it could have produced any layer of audio such as bike engines, collisions or ambient sounds.
The trophy list includes 37 trophies with 22 bronze trophies, 9 silver trophies, 5 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The biggest difference in MXGP 3’s trophy list is there are no online multiplayer related trophies which are replaced by a pure focus on single player race results. The majority of the trophies are based upon skill as you are required to win races across various scenarios such as 18 bronze trophies for winning at all 18 tracks in Career mode; accompanied by silver trophies for winning a race without your rider falling off his bike or without the player using a rewind, winning a race with pro physics and riding for your custom team. Easier trophies include the Déjà Vu bronze trophy for using a rewind for the first time in any single player mode; the Get Back Up bronze trophy for falling off your bike for the first time; and the Such Finesse bronze trophy for making your first purchase in the rider customisation menu. Harder trophies include the I’m Unstoppable gold trophy for winning 50 Grand Prix in any mode and Undisputed Champion gold trophy for becoming world champion in the MXGP class in Career mode. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 20 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are five difficulty levels including very easy, easy, medium, hard and realistic with the major differences between difficulty levels being the A.I. will become gradually more clinical with each step up in difficulty as they will wait for an appropriate overtaking opportunity and capitalise on any mistake you make. There are further factors involved in the difficulty level besides the A.I. as there are three physics settings including standard, semi pro and pro which increases the corresponding difficulty curve as the three physics settings each provide unique handling traits. The standard physics feel more arcade oriented with a lower chance of crashing when you have become accustomed to the handling and jumps, while the semi pro physics strikes a balance between standard and pro physics as the pro physics are far more realistic and fully depend upon you perfecting the weight distribution of your rider throughout every corner and jump of the track. The rewind mechanic can reduce the difficulty by having numerous opportunities to rewind back to before a crash actually occurred. Between the five difficulty levels, three physics settings and plenty of riding assists which can be turned on or off; players have full customisation over the degree of challenge they wish to encounter in any single player mode as well as the difficulty for A.I. controlled riders, physics, gear shifts and riding assists during online multiplayer.
MXGP 3’s online multiplayer performance is just as good as single player with the same sense of speed, graphics, up to 12 players and the capability of A.I. fleshing out the field. Search match mode provides a quick and efficient way of searching for the online lobby that best matches your preferred settings or you can alternatively utilise the create match mode to implement your preferences including the length of the game mode such as a Grand Prix, MXoN race or Championship with the additional options of the category of event comprising of MX1 and MX2 bikes; the physics from a free choice for each player to a set standard, semi pro or pro physics; the race length from 3, 5, 10, 15 or 20 laps and the number of races within a Championship from 3 to 18 races; the option of a qualifying session; track and weather selection policies for random selection or voting; the difficulty of A.I. controlled opponents or no A.I.; collisions; privacy settings for having an open or private lobby; and the inclusion of downloadable content tracks. If you have very limited time, none of those options matter to you and you do not want to create your own match, then you can just leave the options on their default settings and search for a match with a simple press of the X button or attempt to find a match as quickly as possible via the quick match mode. Despite having A.I. opponents to flesh out the field; the host of the online lobby has to wait until a second player joins instead of being able to start the race immediately, while players who join an online lobby during a race have to wait until the next race instead of taking the place of the A.I. controlled rider that is furthest up the field.
There is no split-screen multiplayer which is disappointing as that would have been a natural improvement of the multiplayer component in comparison to the previous MXGP games by implementing all of the online multiplayer content into a comprehensive split-screen multiplayer feature for two players locally which would have genuinely excelled the game, although it is important to take note that it is not an unrealistic addition given that Milestone Italy’s MotoGP series features split-screen multiplayer for two players.
Time Attack online leaderboards focus on fastest times from each player with rankings covering all 19 tracks across both classes with each leaderboard containing each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); the bike and physics setting used during the player’s fastest time; and the best time set by each player, while players can compare their positioning on the leaderboards with players that occupy the top positions, globally, from your friends list and to immediately find and display your position within any given leaderboard.
MXGP 3’s replayability stems from new features such as 2-stroke bikes and weather conditions to numerous official licenses and returning game modes including Career, Grand Prix, Championship, Time Attack, MXoN and Compound modes in single player, while competitive online multiplayer and online leaderboards, accompanied by extensive bike and rider customisation as well as difficulty levels, physics settings and the unpredictability of the result in each session combine together to collectively keep players coming back for many hours in pretty much every game mode and feature. However, replay value would have been better if the Real Events and Stadium Series modes from MXGP 2 had been retained.
- Title: MXGP 3: The Official Motocross Videogame
- Developer: Milestone
- Publisher: Koch Media (Europe)/Square Enix (US and Canada)
- System: PS4
- Format: PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1/2-12 (Online Multiplayer)/Online Leaderboards
- Hard Drive Space Required: 17.12GB (Version 1.04 – PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download)