Milestone certainly have been busy lately, what with the release of MotoGP 17 and MXGP3. You would be forgiven to expect the two games to handle and feel pretty much the same, but that would be doing the rather excellent MotoGP 17 a disservice. You see, MotoGP 17 is a follow on from MotoGP 16 (also known as Valentino Rossi), whereas MXGP3 is a motocross racing game about the official Motocross Grand Prix tournament. As I pointed out in my review of MotoGP 17, Milestone are one of the few developers that cater for fans of two-wheeled racing, and while I praised them there for their gradual improvements throughout their titles, I have to bash them here for what I would describe as a step back, not just for themselves, but MXGP on the whole.
It’s immediately obvious that this game lacks that finishing touch, so much so that in terms of presentation alone, I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone interrupted my sessions with the game to inform me that it was a beta build. It isn’t, but that’s the impression I got. Not only are the menus unattractive, but the game itself just has this horrible (I don’t know how else to describe it) smear effect throughout. It’s a shame really, because under this pointless blur, there’s a good looking game that’s screaming for attention. The bikes are well detailed, the tracks just as much so, and everything else in between is on point. The blurriness reminds me of Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island, and if you’ve played that, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Really, it’s distracting.
Breaking away from previous games in the series, MXGP3 houses dynamic weather, whereas previous installations had fixed weather systems in place. This means that you can encounter different types of weather across the same tracks, on the fly. The problem however is that this could have been a really cool feature, had it looked and felt the part. Instead, the weather change just feels more forced. The weather will often switch at the drop of a hat, almost as if it’s fighting for a scrap of your attention. It certainly doesn’t help that the rain looks ugly and unnatural.
Rain drops that could fill a freakin swimming pool will constantly batter your screen and obstruct your view. I don’t know what sort of rain they get over in Italy, where Milestone is based, but it doesn’t look like that over here in the UK, and if anyone is a pro about rain, it’s someone from England. Despite the fact that MXGP3 feels exactly the same as the last installation, there are some impressive features within. The tuning and customisation systems are incredibly well struck, and although I tend to skip these options in any racing game I take to, it’s an absolute joy to see so much freedom when it comes to fine-tuning.
The game comes with all of the tracks that are used in the official Motocross Grand Prix tournament, as well as the riders, the bike manufacturers, and licenses. Hell, it also includes an official mode that replicates the Motocross of Nations event. On paper, it all sounds authentic and ticks all of the correct boxes, which is why it’s so gutting to see all of these neat features lost on such lacklustre gameplay. It has its exciting moments, don’t get me wrong. Regardless as to where you lay your strengths, be it pro-handling or standard, you’re still guaranteed a buzz from the energetic play, but it only tends to be fleeting.
This, in part, is down to the AI. The AI participants are just dumb, and will recklessly take you out in favour of controlling a corner turn that’s already at a bottleneck with several other riders. It just didn’t make sense. The game is trying to replicate a sport that’s compiled of professional riders, but here, it seems as though the riders have been swapped out with L-plate riders that have had one too many beers. Mercifully they don’t misbehave all of the time, but they certainly act wonky when you least need them to, which derails the enjoyment you have to work hard to achieve.
Of course, if you’re craving the more open approach to dirt racing, you can check out the Compound. The Compound serves as a wide open space that enables you to freely ride wherever (and however) you want. It’s a great place to get acquainted with the system and functionalities. Another gripe with the game sits with how it handles, and by that I mean it’s overly tedious to effectively utilise. I found myself literally just relying on the basic tools to see me through, disregarding suspension and other factors almost completely. I don’t want to entirely bash this game for what it is, and maybe I should have reviewed this before MotoGP 17, which is in a different league, but having such a high from Milestone, to sink to a low, leaves me with a bitter feeling. It’s fair to say that if half the effort that went into MotoGP 17 was spared for MXGP3, it would have been much better off.
MXGP3 is a step back for the series. There are far too many issues, both technically and in design, that just don’t add up to present fans with an experience worthy of the sport. The mechanics have little effect, the visuals are questionable, and the overall package just feels very beta. When you take into account that Milestone have also just released the spectacular MotoGP 17, you cant help but wonder what the hell went wrong with MXGP3. If you’re looking for a decent two wheeled racer, skip this one by and stick to the aforementioned comparison. Despite having a great deal of depth and authenticity, this game just stands out for all the wrong reasons.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.