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DS  header logo

Ducati Moto

For: DS

Middle of the road

Product: Ducati Moto | Developer: 4J Studios | Publisher: Vir2L Studios | Format: DS | Genre: Racing | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network) | Version: Europe
Ducati Moto DS, thumbnail 1
I never really understood the fascination with motorbiking. If you're popping out to grab a pint of milk, you've still got to keep to the speed limit, so why choose the option without airbags? Because it's exciting, of course. Motorbiking feels faster, more exhilarating, and different, and that's possibly why it's so alluring. So it's ironic really that Ducati Moto is about as exciting as driving a tractor down Croydon High Street.

We're getting ahead of ourselves here, though, because Ducati Moto has a good case to present to you, at first. It's kitted out with everything you'd reasonably want from a racing game such as this; a good selection of tracks, a variety of unlocks and a host of official Ducati bikes, from classics to an ultra-modern Desmosedici. The tracks really do look lovely to drive around, too, with colourful backdrops and landscapes framing the 15 circuits that the game offers; everything from buzzing Hong Kong to a serene Scotland. The motorbikes themselves are crisp and detailed enough, and even though the animation is nothing to write home about the game's visually fine.

In between races around Loch Lomond at high speed you find yourself at a fairly predictable 'Garage' screen where you can purchase new motorbikes, or upgrade existing ones, with money earned from winning races and other events. The two difficulty levels the game offers – a slightly obtuse selection of 'Easy' and 'Hard' which might stall the indecisive – make no difference to your winnings, and don't really seem to impact the difficulty of the races either, but there's a good reason for that.

The aforementioned upgrade system enables you to add parts onto your bikes for a small fee, which is a nice way of making races worthwhile, but unfortunately turns out to be a little too effective in making your bikes better. Slap a few levels onto your acceleration and top speed – both of which can be given their maximum level of upgrades just from the starting cash alone – and you'll find yourself with a healthy five- to ten-second lead on all of the other competitors in the majority of the early races. Keep the money flowing, and this lead in racing never really disappears, even on Hard.

This isn't likely to frustrate, though, because that's sort of Ducati Moto's charm. It's not a hyper-realistic motorbiking simulator; tap a directional button to steer, and the motorbike wobbles to the left and right as if it's stapled to the tarmac. Even with powersliding – which comes through a quick squeeze of the right trigger – you're never really in danger of falling off unless you try to slide for several hours in one go; try to veer off of the road and unless you're on the edge of a cliff it'll simply nudge you back onto the tarmac, with one exception – driving into walls doesn't agree with your bike at all.

So Ducati Moto's a solid if simple arcade biking game. It's got time trial modes, Free Play to let you roam around the tracks you've unlocked, and even some bonus Stunt Challenges that offer simple tricks against the clock. But there is a missing feel here, because while the scenery is nice and the biking helmets are red, and the selection of characters are all nicely stereotypical, the game hasn't got a whole lot of soul. And for a game about hurtling around racetracks with nothing but leather between you and face-grinding tarmac, things just don't feel fast enough.

The controls are all there, and it come across as chunky and simple, as you'd want for a handheld racer like this. But there's nothing special there – the music is bland, the computer-controlled racers have that strange disease that makes all but one of them absolutely terrible at racing, and with a lack of DS Download Play you're unlikely to find many friends you can enjoy this with either.

For a racing game, Ducati Moto makes it to the finish consistently, but never makes a push for the top spot of the winner's podium. You won't be disappointed, necessarily, but don't expect the ride of your life.
Ducati Moto
Reviewer photo
Mike Cook | 9 September 2008
Clean, efficient and smooth to play, Ducati Moto just doesn't have the thrill or long-term appeal to make it a winner
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