Release Date: out now!
Replicating riding a bike in games is no easy feat, a bike is about balance and a game simply can’t let you feel that balance.
But Milestone are certainly going to try with their latest SBK game, based on the fast paced world of Superbike racing they’ve created one of their best games yet, and one of the best bike racers around.
Responding to criticism that their SBK series has been hard on players thanks to its focus on realism they’ve now worked hard to open the game up to a broader audience, 3 simulation settings allow players to adjust easily to the game while optional rider weight control adds that extra bit of realism for the fanatics.
But it’s the brand new Arcade mode that should appeal more to new comers to the series as it swaps out the realism for the ability to take bends at stupid speeds.
The main focus in Arcade mode is the Story Mode, which is a misnomer by itself, which tasks you with beating certain challenges and awarding you medals for doing so.
However Arcade riding is certainly not what this games excels at as the game style itself just does not suit the mode, handling feels odd as you’re almost glued to the track and it’s close to impossible to come off the bike giving a feeling that skill has nothing to do with victory in Arcade mode.
The gap between Arcade and the Simulation mode is extremely large giving a difficult learning curve if you start off in Arcade.
But, go back to the main menu and select simulation and that’s where SBK X shines, ramping it up to full simulation and riding a wet race is a great experience as learning how to use both front and back brakes correctly becomes paramount and correct throttle control can win or lose a race.
It can be daunting at first as the game has no tutorial, no helpful guidance to get you through except for your own common sense and you’ll quickly learn why you need to brake before leaning into a turn and how hitting your front brake in mi-corner is suicidal.
In Sim mode is your main focus, Career mode which see’s you choosing what team to sign with and for how long, it also starts you on the Superstock bikes as you build your team and name.
Along the way you can upgrade your bike by completing basic tests during the race weekend, however you have no say in that these are and the tests can feel extremely easy to complete.
But they’ve certainly aimed for a complete experience as you go through a whole race weekend, practice sessions, qualifying, warm up and race are all here. it’s up to you if you wish to skip a session or not and a handy fast forward button allows you to skip time in a session.
You can confer with your race engineer to help set up your bike or if you’re feeling brave you can venture into the setups yourself, and there is certainly a good range of tuning options available to you.
Helmet cam is the path for Sim riders as well and thankfully it’s well done, the riders head will now move to look around a corner like in real life and it helps add that extra bit of authenticity to the game.
Thanks to the 3 realism settings and the options to turn of rider weight transfer, bike damage and rider health it’s quiet easy to tailor the game to your level and the fairly large singeplayer career will keep you going for a good while.
But as you may expect it’s not all good news as SBK X has its fair share of problems.
While the singleplayer is indeed pretty lengthy there is nothing to unlock bar a few random pictures (of the pretty girls) and everything else is unlocked from the go leaving little replay value and many people may find themselves losing interest halfway through the game.
It’s certainly not the prettiest game in the world either, rather bland textures and lacking details all add to a rather average looking game and the bikes have almost no damage modelling which leads to what should be spectacular crashes looking rather boring and impacts have no weight to them, sliding into another rider has no real impact or feeling of penalty to it.
Customisation of your rider is pretty limited to some basic faces and a small range of helmets to choose from, though you can pick from different riding styles.
Blackbean have split their game down the middle with a rather odd feeling Arcade mode which takes away rather than adds to the overall game, however for fans of realism the Simulator mode is an amazing experience with a great handling model that requires skill to master on the highest level. While some may find it hard to get into and not very rewarding the more patient among you will discover a fantastic replication of bike racing on the Xbox 360.
I wonder if Rossi plays this…..
+ Nailing that fast bend in the wet!
+ Getting a clean pass in full sim mode!
+ Sliding the bike into a corner
- going in to hot and losing the front end
- it’s not the prettiest game
-can be frustrating
It’s not a looker with some poor textures and details, however it’s certainly not horrible to look at.
Bikes all sound great, the soundtrack is pretty varied though it does have a lot of pop etc which sounds a little out of place.
There is a bike, now go race. needless to say there is no story here.
Arcade mode feels out of place but enter the Simulation side and this games makes so much more sense, tricky to master it’s not for the impatient.
A pretty chunky singleplayer will last you and there is the Xbox Live side of things but with realy unlockables it has little replay value and many may find themselves bored half way through.
Milestone have created one of the best bike games out there, and while Arcade mode is not the greatest the greatest addition anyone that loves bikes, sims or SBK should pick this game up and get riding.