Few people really know about motorbikes. That's why when it comes to bikes in games, as long as you fall off all the time, it's generally agreed that they're realistic. And falling off all the time is one of the areas in which MotoGP 08 delivers.
You'll start off with the handling set to Arcade during the Tutorial, though. This makes it easy. This make you feel like Valentino Rossi!
The bikes stick to the road, lean, trundle over the grass without making you fall off and generally, well, act like cars. The other two handling options - Advanced and Simulation - do what you'd expect: make the bike twitchier; ruin the brakes; make it fall over on your legs when you turn too hard. Nice!
Advanced is a decent compromise between Arcade and Sim and is what we'd imagine most will stick to. The bike flips if you put on maximum power and turn hard, but is otherwise nicely stable and responsive.
We'd hate to go accusing professional developers of copying, but it feels remarkably similar to previous developer Climax's superb MotoGP racers. They were great. Which makes this great.
You can also win tuning points in Career Mode, which allow you to tune specific areas of your bike (acceleration, speed, traction control or braking). Once your bike's souped up, take it on Xbox Live and beat everyone. Or at least those who haven't had a chance to do the same.
Meanwhile, a collection of 50 challenges - timed laps, checkpoint races, overtaking scenarios, and the like - give you something to do offline, although the reward for slogging through these is not so hot. You unlock photographs from the 2008 series!
MotoGP 08, like Casey Stoner's Ducati, isn't quite as staggeringly fast as last year's model, but it's still a great bike racer. It also lacks some of the shine and party atmosphere that the fantastic THQ MotoGP series had.
But there's much more to do in here thanks to the three race series and tough single-player challenges. In fact it's the most fun you can have this year on two wheels, without actually being on two wheels. If you get what we mean...
Valentino? Pah! This is the best bike racer.
- Rock-solid frame rate
- Three good handling models
- Plenty to do in Challenges mode
- Great bike enhancement options
- MotoGP 07 was a bit flashier