Racing games can be some of the most fun game you can play on your console today. Few games capture the head-to-head action, especially if you have friends in the room playing with you. It was essential to the success of franchises like Mario Kart and Need for Speed, and those franchises did a great job capturing the true essence of the thrill of the race. However, Motorcycle Club, though ambitious in its approach, fails miserably at this concept and could even scare people off racing altogether. Motorcycle Club is a complete mess of a racer and it just gives you more reasons to hate it the more you play.
As mentioned earlier, Motorcycle Club is an arcade motorcycle racing game that really doesn’t offer much else outside of that. There are 22 different bikes you can choose from and many of those bike are actual branded bikes from major manufacturers like BMW, Kawasaki and Honda. However, the branding is in name only since the game is arcade in style. Most bikes are given a random set of stats and you are given the opportunity to ride your favorite brand. Since the real world stats of the bikes were not used, it doesn’t really make sense to include the licensed material, but some fans may enjoy that aspect of the game and stands as one of the lone high-points of the game.
Once you get past the branded content, things go downhill relatively quickly. First, the graphics are certainly sub-par for the current generation of systems. It doesn’t necessarily look bad, but they are equivalent to an HD remake of an old PS2 / Xbox game. The game does not take advantage of the hardware and it definitely looks the part. Most disturbingly is whenever you hit a guard rail of another biker hard enough. The screen blurs out completely and flashes to indicate you’ve hit something. Not only are you presenting with this extremely jarring visual, but you become disoriented and lose control of the bike to crash again. If you crash hard enough, you’ll probably repeat this process a few times until you lost all momentum and can properly dodge the on-coming obstacles. Finally, the camera angles are strange in this instance and move in the same direction as you are turning. This gives you the illusion that you are turning more than you really are leading to trouble navigating tight spots and misjudging turns. This makes you crash more which takes us back to terrible motion blurring. Visually, the game just gets in its own way and it all leads to a positive feedback loop of poor visual design leading to visual design problems leading to more visual problems.
From a gameplay perspective, the game is equally as bad as the presentation. The controls are very stiff and work concurrently with the visual issues discussed above. Maneuvering your bike becomes cumbersome and uninspired in this configuration. Motorcycles are normally quite maneuverable, but in this game they control like high speed tanks. Controls aside, there are a number of questionable game design issues that make this game a lot more cumbersome than it should be. Motorcycle club integrated a mechanic that allows you to switch between a cruiser, a road bike and a high speed racing bike at any point during a race. There will also be several sections in a map where you’ll need to switch between bikes to keep the most momentum possible at any given time. For example, the road ahead will suddenly become fragmented and get covered in potholes. If you are riding a racing bike and go over this bumpy road, you will lose all forward momentum and slow down to a crawl until the road smooths out. However, you can switch to the cruiser which will move faster of this terrain. This bike switching system is overly cumbersome and takes the thrill out of any race. This is especially evident since the AI will stay in the racing bikes they have giving you the edge especially in sections with large bumpy sections. Most gamers are not thinking about switching vehicles in the race and you’ll often forget to switch or even not realize that you need to switch to optimize your position. There is also no tutorial or cue to change to a different bike so it is trail by fire which doesn’t work well in a video game.
Next, the sound design in this game is just non-existent. While you are racing, there is no background music at all. All you will be treated to is the revving of the bike you are on. It just becomes a loud buzz that is constant through the race. Not only is this a missed opportunity to present the player with something interesting and different, it is just downright lazy to not include music to race to. It is just bad all the way around. There is some music during the main menu and opening sequence, but the menu music will eventually loop out and end if you leave it long enough. So even if you can get past the fact that there is no music in the game, most people would say at least there is decent sound effects right? Well, to answer the question, no not really. The motorcycles seem to sound like motorcycles well enough, but all the other sound effects like collisions, bumping or even ambient noise is completely off. The sound design is overly cartoon-like and doesn’t fit even the most casual arcade game. In one word, the sound design is; terrible.
In addition, there are several smaller nuances to the game that just get in the way rather than draw people in. The first is the fact that there are a ton of loading screens that are all over the game. Whether you are starting a game, ending a game, entering a new mode or whatever you want to do in this game, you’ll face a loading screen. In today’s gaming experience, you should not need to load this much, especially since the graphics are sub-par and there is no music in the game! Especially considering how powerful today’s machines are, there is no excuse for loading times. The loading times aren’t terrible or the worst we’ve seen, but the fact that they are there at all is offensive. Next is the way the game registers your split times. There are several times in the race where the game will tell you how you are doing on time, which is important to a racing game. How the game decides to do it is to pretend that a flash bulb just went off in your face. The entire screen goes white and flashes fast enough to set off an epileptic seizure. It is extremely jarring and it makes you dread crossing the time line. Finally, the game featuring an extreme amount of rubber banding, so much so that no matter what happens to the opponents, they will always catch up. Cause a massive five bike pile up at the bottle neck that you narrowly escape at full speed? Watch out behind you, there is someone on your tail. Racing fans hate this, and yet, this game just throws it in your face.
Finally, the game does include some online multiplayer and other challenge-based modes that allow you to unlock content. These challenge missions are critical to unlocking content because a challenge gives you permission to purchase the content you want. If you don’t do the challenge, you’ll be stuck with the stock content. Most other racing games allow you to purchase content whenever you get enough money to do so or even award it for free at the end of the race. Instead, Motorcycle club makes you earn enough money to purchase the content you want, then you have to beat the challenge that corresponds to the content you want, unlock the content and purchase it. It is a multi-layer, overly-complicated system that kills any incentive to moving forward. The online modes are there, but as of this review, no one was playing the game. To be fair, we will not judge the online portion since we could not physically play it.
Overall, Motorcycle Club is a complete, lazy mess. This game feels more like an early alpha rather than a finished product. Instead of a fun racing game, you are left with a buggy, incomplete, eerily silent, annoying game that should not be considered a final retail game. Make no mistake, this is a bad game. It doesn’t matter if the game is discounted or even free, there is hardly anything redeeming about the product at all. Stay away from this game and unless they make some seriously major improvements to the game, stay away forever. While we don’t like to get overly negative about any game, this game should be ashamed to be on a shelf and we don’t want to see anyone waste their money on a sub-standard product.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 4 version of Motorcycle Club developed by Maximum Games
- Branded Motorcycles?
- Awful Game Design
- Incomplete Game, Half Designed Features
- No Music In-Game, Buggy, Basically Everything Else