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MotoGP 2

For: Mobile

Once again around the block

Product: MotoGP 2 | Developer: THQ Wireless | Publisher: THQ Wireless | Format: Mobile | Genre: Racing, Sports | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 196KB | Reviewed on: K800i other handsets | Version: Europe
MotoGP 2 Mobile, thumbnail 1
A surgeon friend of Stephen Fry's once told him that doctors in A&E have a nickname for motorcyclists: donors. Ghoulish though this in-joke is, it contains an important message about how you should never try to go too fast on a device that, if disturbed in motion, topples like a dinner plate and slops its meat down on the tarmac. Instead, as with all things, you should play video game simulations.

And here's one now. MotoGP 2 is a sequel in the ubiquitous MotoGP series, which has been asserting its presence on a range of platforms for several years, and although the mobile port of the original MotoGP was disappointing, THQ has decided to take the platform seriously with this second effort.

This is evident not least in the detail it's compressed into the mobile handset. From the menu, you can choose from Quick Race and Career Mode, and if you choose the former you're presented with the further choice of track, from a range of ten, and the option to determine the weather you'll be riding in from the dourly alliterative list of dry, drizzle, and downpour.

Visually, the different weather effects have an impact. In dry conditions the sky is blue, while in drizzly and damp conditions the sky is grey and beads of water collect on the screen to indicate rainfall, which is a spare and stylish effect.

However, through the crude medium of the mobile keypad it's difficult to discern how the weather affects the gameplay, and the effect is minimal even once you start to sense it.

You can also choose from a range of seven riders, all of whom are real people like Kenny Roberts and Jeremy McRoberts, and each of these is endowed with a distribution of abilities at cornering, braking, top speed, and acceleration, in neat symbiosis with the machines they respectively ride and the teams they ride for.

Career Mode holds an even richer abundance of options. You start by creating a name for your character and your team, then choosing your bike and your country of origin – unlike in Quick Race mode, you can separate bikes from their natural habitats when you embark upon your racing career.

Before you set off, and again between races, you can tune your bike by distributing credits across the four racing attributes, and the amount you can spend depends on the amount you win on the track.

All of which is very well, but if the racing itself doesn't work, nothing does. In this respect, MotoGP 2 can claim a qualified victory.

As is the norm on mobile, you accelerate automatically by pressing '2', once, and letting the game's reckless cruise control take over. Braking is occasionally necessary, but by and large once you've reached full speed you can lean and swerve your way around a whole track without slowing.

This is a simplistic mechanic, but by far the lesser of two evils on the currently fiddly mobile handset, saving you from the ludicrous thumb dance of braking with '8' every time you hit a bend.

It takes some time to get used to the handing on the game's narrow tracks, but persistence rewards you with surprisingly intuitive control, so that after a while you'll be weaving between bikes and round bends with a sureness that seem logically impossible the first time you play.

Unfortunately, MotoGP 2 doesn't present you with many opportunities to weave between the opposition. The bikes appear at all-too negotiable intervals, and while the sober progress you make probably represents the sport fairly, THQ might have been better advised to match the bluntness of the mobile's input with some blunt arcade action, rather than attempt a simulation on a platform ill-equipped to carry it.

For the most part, this is a very solid racer. The graphics are clean and crisp, the sensation of speed is palpable, the controls are fluid, and there's enough detail to satisfy enthusiasts of the sport. If THQ had let its hair down a little more and thrown in some arcade flourishes to make up for the unavoidably basic controls, the game would have been as fun as it is thorough.
MotoGP 2
Reviewer photo
Rob Hearn | 1 February 2005
Solid visuals, responsive controls, and heaps of options make this aging racer difficult to knock. More casual features would have been welcome, but aside from minor niggles there's reasonable enjoyment to be had here
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