MXGP 3 - Video Game
Hey! A new motocross video game is out! They don't come around all that often, so we tend to get pretty excited when one gets released. This time, it's MXGP 3 from Milestone. As you might have guessed, the "3" means that this is the third entry in the MXGP series. The two that came before this one were good indicators that Milestone has the potential to make a great motocross game, but they were not the best. So, is the third one the chosen one? Is it the ultimate motocross video game? Unfortunately, no, MXGP 3 is not perfect. But there is some good news: it's the best MXGP game yet. Read on as we go in-depth with all of the game's features and game modes.
MXGP 3 Features:
- Career mode
- Motocross of Nations mode
- Online multiplayer
- Bike customization
- Rider customization
- 19 replica tracks
- Every 2016 MXGP team
- Every major OEM bike brand
The career mode is the bread and butter of the MXGP franchise, and is the main reason why many of us actually buy the game. We all want to live out the fantasy of rising through the ranks, and eventually becoming factory rider and champion. Unfortunately, MXGP 3's career mode is pretty much completely unchanged from last year's installment. It does exactly what a career mode needs to do, but it's hard not to feel like that there are some small (or big) improvements they could have made between MXGP 2 and MXGP 3.
The career mode starts off with you riding a few wildcard races as a privateer. I'm a big fan of this idea, but the biggest gripe I had with this part of the career mode in MXGP 2 was that when you completed your wildcard races and received offers from teams, no matter how well you did in those wildcard races you only got offers from mediocre to low level teams. You could go undefeated during your time as a wildcard rider and still only receive offers from non-factory teams. That's pretty unrealistic. If I'd come onto the scene as a privateer and won several motos, you best believe I'll be getting some calls from factory-supported teams. I think it was a pretty simple improvement that they could have made, but unfortunately they didn't do it.
The rest of the career mode is pretty simple and straightforward. You race the entire 19-round series and strive to become a champion. Every six rounds you can switch teams, so that way you can move up to a factory team or try out a few different teams as you go.
Unfortunately, the biggest drawback for the career mode, and really one of the biggest for this game as a whole, is the lack of difficulty. Once you get the physics down, which takes all of 15 minutes, you can beat the AI on realistic difficulty within a few races. It should not be easy to beat the AI on the hardest and most realistic difficulty, but it's not even a challenge in this game. Beating Jeffrey Herlings on a satellite level 250 by 20 seconds? No problem. Beating Antonio Cairoli by ten seconds on a low-tier, non-factory bike? Easy peasy. It's not like I never want to play the game again after completing a season, but I definitely do not have the motivation to do multiple seasons in MX2, and then race five seasons of MXGP. For some more casual players this won't be an issue, but for the players who take motocross games fairly seriously and want to have a long career...the AI "difficulty" is going to get old fast. I will admit that there are ways of making the game more challenging like purposefully getting bad starts or riding an underpowered two-stroke, and it is worth noting that the AI gets a little more difficult when you move up to the MXGP class–but the point still stands: the AI is just too easy.
Another, more minor, issue that I have with the career mode is that we still can't run the #1 plate when we defend a title in either class. I get that not many riders run the #1 plate in the GPs in real life, but most of us would love to run the #1 plate in a video game. This is a feature that Milestone really doesn't have an excuse to not to have in the game. But like I said, this is a fairly minor issue and it doesn't have an impact on how good the game is.
As far as the race day goes, you can do just the races, qualifying and the races, or a "full weekend". I put full weekend in quotes because it's not truly a full weekend. If it was truly a full MXGP weekend, you'd have to do a qualifying race after finishing up with timed qualifying. But there is no option to do a qualifying race in this game. I understand that some people won't want to do an entire race just for gate pick, but if I'm already doing a full weekend...I'm probably willing to do a qualifying race.
Overall, the career mode does exactly what a career mode needs to do and most players will be satisfied with it. It's just unfortunate that there are so many little things that Milestone could've done to improve the experience, but decided not to for one reason or another.
- It should take players a minimum of six hours to complete the career mode, and that's assuming the player only does one season in each class.
- It may be fairly basic, but it does exactly what a career mode should do: let you race the entire championship and sign with different teams/sponsors as you improve.
- The lack of AI difficulty definitely takes away from the career mode's replay-ability.
- Milestone missed several opportunities to improve this mode over the one featured in MXGP 2.
You can check out some gameplay of the career mode here.
Motocross of Nations Mode
The Motocross of Nations mode is back from MXGP 2 and it's essentially the same. That's not a bad thing. This mode is definitely something that really doesn't need to be improved further. You get to play as a rider in all three of the motos and it's pretty damn fun to race a 250 versus a bunch of 450s. It would be nice to be able to race for your nation as the rider you created, but that's not something I have to have to enjoy it.
The bad news is that this mode suffers from the same problem as the career mode: the AI is not difficult enough. Alex Martin is a bad dude on a 250f, but I shouldn't be able to beat the entire field by 12 seconds playing as him. If the AI is improved for the next installation in the series, this mode (and the game as a whole) will take a huge step forward.
- It's exactly what you want for a Motocross of Nations mode.
- It's awesome to get to ride one of the most prestigious motocross events for your country, even if it's virtual.
- The Milestone guys did a great job replicating all of the 2016 MXoN bikes and gear sets.
- The lack of AI difficulty makes it too easy to dominate every moto.
You can check out some gameplay of the MXoN mode here.
The in-air physics are pretty much the same as MXGP 2, besides the somewhat refined whip/scrub animation. You are given a little bit more control in the air, and it does look a whole lot better. It also seems to be at least semi-effective when trying to use it to gain an advantage on other riders, so it's not just a visual mechanic. Sadly, the lack of changes in this area leads to a lot of the same problems I had with the first game. The rider and bike are still way too stiff while you're floating through the air. And the bikes in this game must have the best suspension in the world, because you could jump a mile in this game and still ride out of it perfectly fine.
Luckily for Milestone, even though the in-air mechanics are still not where they need to be, it doesn't hinder the game too badly. Plus, I think that this is an area that they will slowly start to improve on in future games.
- The whip/scrub feature is much improved.
- While it's not where it needs to be, most players will be able to get past the mediocre in-air physics.
- The rider is too stiff while in the air. We need more freedom to move around.
This was clearly Milestone's area of focus for this game, because it is a huge improvement over MXGP 2. The MXGP 2 ground physics were just bad. It was way too hard to get the bike turned and everything felt extremely stiff. Clearly Milestone realized this, as they loosened it back up a bit for MXGP 3. To me, this is the perfect blend between the original MXGP game and MXGP 2. You can't drift around corners like you could in MXGP, but it also doesn't feel like the bike weighs about 6,000 pounds in the corners. You can cut down in turns and carve out some nice inside lines if you enter the corner properly and give it the right amount of gas and brake. It's also nice that they have continued to build on the concept of free-forming ruts. It's not anywhere near perfect, but some ruts do form as you continue to put laps down on a track. Railing berms is also possible, although it's another area that could use some refinement as sometimes the bike doesn't really grab onto the berm.
Overall, the new ground physics are a huge improvement over the last installment in the series, and it makes the game a whole lot more fun.
- Huge improvement over the MXGP 2 ground physics.
- You can pivot and turn the bike with ease.
- Ruts are functional, although not perfect.
- Berms and ruts could use some improvements.
Rider customization was one of the biggest draws of MXGP 2. You could deck your rider out with the latest gear from all of the major brands. So, of course, they brought it back for MXGP 3. There is a slight problem, though, some of the gear brands have little to no new gear. Fox, ANSR, and Thor literally have maybe one new set between the three of them. And they're three of the most popular brands! It's actually pretty damn disappointing. I want to run some new Fox stuff, not gear from late-2015. Now there are a few brands that have new gear and even some brands that are new to the game, but it's still a bummer to see so many returning brands without new additions. Nonetheless, being able to customize your own rider is an awesome feature to have and while I may be a little nit-picky when it comes to gear lines not being updated...I still absolutely love this feature.
- Large selection of brands.
- You can customize your rider from head-to-toe.
- Some new brands were added to the game.
- Most of the brands that returned from MXGP 2 did not receive much, if any, new gear.
The bike customization feature in MXGP 3 is essentially the same as MXGP 2. There are no real improvements or issues with it, and I'm guessing that they didn't change it at all because it's perfectly fine how it is. You can customize pretty much every part on the bike and really make it yours. The graphics kits that are available aren't the best, but they get the job done. I will say, though, that the number font that is on all of the bikes in this game (regardless of the graphics kit you use) is pretty bad. I'm not sure how they could possibly go through replicating all of the 2016 bikes and the number fonts the teams use, and then look at the one they give us and think "yeah, that's good." It's pretty weird. On the bright side, you hardly ever see the number font while playing... And honestly it's not like the bike number font is going to actually impact your gameplay experience. It just makes screenshots not look as cool. Anyway, the bike customization feature adds a lot to this game and it really makes the career mode more enjoyable.
- Lots of customization options.
- Being able to make your bike look the way you want it to is awesome.
- The number font sucks.
- I could always go for some more graphics kits.
If there's one area where I think Milestone actually took a step back from the previous MXGP games, it's the tracks. I thought that the tracks in MXGP 2 looked beautiful and were scaled pretty well. I can't really say the same for them in MXGP 3. They still look great, don't get me wrong, but the scaling is just a touch off. Jumps that should be a challenge to clear are extremely easy, and some areas of tracks in general are just too small. They took a risk with adjusting the scaling from MXGP 2 and it didn't pay off. Hopefully they take a look back at the tracks for MXGP 4 and adjust the scaling to be more realistic.
Now one thing that Milestone actually improved on was the ruts. In the previous games the ruts were either minimal or didn't work all that great, but the ruts that do form in MXGP 3 (while sometimes too wide and kind of shallow) do work fairly well. They grab you and surprisingly you can hit some of them pretty hard and your bike will still stay in it. A lot of the tracks are still one-lined in most of the corners, but there are multiple line choices available thanks to the ruts that do form...you just may not use them. In the end I gotta give some kudos to Milestone for improving upon this idea, now they just need to continue refinement.
Milestone also introduced a new weather feature for MXGP 3, which essentially makes it to where you can race on a regularly prepped track, a wet track, a muddy track, or a track that is getting rained on. It's a great idea and this is a good start, but there is room for improvement. I will say that the weather does look pretty realistic, but when it comes to functionality it's not the best. The wet, muddy, and rainy weather basically just slows your bike down some and makes you slide a bit more in the corners. The track doesn't actually get gnarly or any more difficult than when it's dry. I want to see some gnarly ruts and some kind of upped difficulty. Make me struggle for the win in the mud, not just adjust my cornering technique and go slower down the straightaways. Like I said, this is a good start for a weather feature, but I'm expecting to see some improvements for the next MXGP game.
- Tracks look good.
- The ruts do function fairly well.
- Scaling is a bit off.
- The different weather doesn't really impact the racing.
You can check out some Glen Helen gameplay here.
The online mode, like a few of the other modes in this game, is largely unchanged from MXGP 2. You can create lobbies and host a Grand Prix, a full championship, or an MXoN. It does the job it needs to do, and it does seem like Milestone has made it more stable as I have yet to have a lobby crash on me. There are a few glitches, such as a camera glitch that forces players to quit out of the lobby, but I'm confident that Milestone will fix these issues with patches.
- You can race with your friends.
- The lobbies seem stable.
- There are some glitches that are causing problems for players.
MXGP 3 is the best game in the MXGP video game franchise. Yes, it has some room to improve, but most of the things I noted above as needing improvement are rather small in the grand scheme of things. Most gamers are going to have a blast with this game and will not even notice some of the stuff I mentioned. It has a decent career mode, extensive customization, and a multiplayer mode that is pretty stable. That's exactly what most of us want from a motocross game. Oh yeah, it also has two-strokes...which I'm sure will bring some customers to the table regardless of how good the game actually is (the two-stroke are extremely fun, by the way). I still think that $50 is a little too steep for this kind of game, especially if they're going to release paid DLC. It also seems a little steep considering that a good portion of this game is just copied over from MXGP 2 (although that can be said for 99% of sports games out there). But I would still suggest picking this game up at full price if you're a big fan of motocross video games. It's worth it, and you'll lose many hours playing it.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars