Published on May 3rd, 2010 | by prime4
SBKX – Preview
As people who are just as likely to start a career in motorcycle racing as they are becoming the next trainers at SeaWorld, we approached Milestone’s latest two-wheeled racer with a certain hesitation. We’ve never quite understood the relevance of using one set of brakes over the other, for example, and haven’t ever been able to get our head around the relatively sluggish, weight-shifting handling. But then how should we know any differently? Almost every superbike game up until now has assumed that those who touch them are avid followers of the sport, preconditioned with the knowledge of the intricacies of two-wheeled racing. As a result, they’re always fairly unforgiving on a bike virgin like ourselves.
So, you can imagine the sense of astonishment we experienced when we crossed the line in first place during our very first place during our first race of SBKX. We was playing Arcade mode, of course, the biggest addition to this year’s version of SBK that Milestone hopes will attract a completely new audience to its typically hardcore racer.
And it works. The handling model is far more responsive and infinitely more accessible, complete with a familiar green and red racing line warning riders when’s most appropriate to brake and accelerate. The likelihood of spinning out on corners is reduced, brakes kick into gear far more quickly and, dare we say it, we’re actually having fun.
Of course, the focus on offering a new ‘casual friendly’ mode doesn’t mean that Milestone has forgotten about its core fanbase, and indeed, upon switching over to the game’s Simulation mode we once again found ourselves in an all-too familiar position at the back of the pack, where the sense of speed offered by the beast between our butt cheeks was abruptly replaced by the feeling of sand chafing against our leathers.
The difference between the two handling models is almost night and day, with Simulation requiring a far more subtle application of the accelerator and brakes, and far greater awareness of your opponent’s whereabouts, the track’s hazards and the optimal racing line.
There are different levels of simulation too, including Low, Medium and Full, for those who don’t want to lower themselves to Arcade mode, but find the full effects of Simulation a bit too tough, and more subtle elements as well, like the buildup of rubber left on dry surfaces offering more grip. There’s plenty on offer to extend replayability too, including a 16-player multiplayer mode as well as multiple race options within Arcade and Simulation, including Story mode, Career, Championship and Time Attack offerings. Plenty to keep you occupied then.
However, if there’s one area where SBK falls it’s that it doesn’t seem to have quite the same level of flair as its greatest competitor, MotorGP. It’s the Forza Motorsport to MotoGP’s Gran Turismo if you will, but likewise it shares an enviable understanding of the sport, and one that puts SBKX in the running as the greatest superbike racer of all time. We’ll find out whether SBKX can stomach the (tyre) pressure next month.