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Review: SBK Generations - Xbox 360 version tested
It’s good to see another two-wheeled racer for the next-gen consoles. There is plenty of four-wheeled action to be had out there, but apart from the Moto GP series, motorbike racing games are fairly rare.
SBK Generations attempts to improve and freshen up the established World Superbike franchise – but the overall experience is very familiar. The game is split into four main modes – a quick play mode to jump straight into any race on any bike is most gamer’s first stop. It was for me – I quickly browsed the selection of bikes and riders available. Now, I’m a bit behind on my SBK knowledge (being a staunch F1 fanatic), but I was surprised to see that virtually the only bikes in the championship are BMWs or Hondas.
So I picked the new BMW (they really have got a good range these days) and went for a virtual spin around Silverstone – a track I have driven in real life and in games such as Forza 4. Off I went, to see how things felt. There are a few different levels of simulation available – I selected a medium mode, which allowed some degree of intervention, while still allowing crashes, falls etc if I was too ham-fisted.
The bike squirmed and lost traction under too much throttle and pitched forward convincingly under braking. A little too much throttle in-bend led to a bit of oversteer, much too much led to a low-side crash. Yup, the physics model is pretty good. It’s quite tricky to master but also pretty rewarding.
I started playing with camera angles next. I always insist on playing car racing games in the driver’s viewpoint (in-cockpit camera). In my opinion it is the only way to feel all of the speed and sensation of driving quickly – chase cams seem so fake and slow by comparison to me. Naturally, if you switch to the “bike-cam” view on this game, then the view tilts massively with every corner. It’s a rush – but very difficult to orientate oneself with where to corner, brake etc.
Thankfully, there is a very good “riders-eye” view – it simulates where the rider would actually look during cornering. So the bike tilts over for a corner but the rider’s head moves out sideways and stays a bit more level. Much more useable and the best feeling of speed and excitement is conveyed.
The tracks all seem to be realistic in there layout – but the surface textures are pretty horrible! The surface of each track looks matte and dull. It’s so bad it actually puts a downer on the rest of the visuals – which is a shame as the bikes themselves are pretty detailed.
Anyway, after this I tried the SBK Experience mode. This is effectively a varied selection of challenges and experiences on varied tracks - but there is a much more interesting selection of manufacturers, such as MV Agusta and Triumph, plus more. This was more like it – I could actually pick a brand I really liked. It’s an interesting little extra which can provide a few hours of diversion from the main game.
The Multiplayer Mode is good. There is a fairly large number of racers out there and plenty of games to join online. The standard of racing is very high, so practice before you go in, otherwise expect no quarter. But what else to expect? Play any game online and the very best players rise mercilessly to the top.
Finally, the Career Mode provides the most interesting experience of all. It represents a four-year career span from the 2009 season all the way to the end of 2012. You start by choosing a race seat offer from a number of teams, with performance clauses to meet and more. And then four full championships of racing get underway. It’s a different way to do things – pretty refreshing.
So, as these type of games go, it’s pretty good. There is a solid and challenging core to the game. It is quite a lot less polished than triple-A racers such as Forza 4, Gran Turismo 5 etc – but this is quite clearly not an obvious gaming choice.
If you want a slightly left-field, challenging racer then do take a look – and if you are a biker or an SBK fan then also do pick it up. It’s pretty good fun.
SBK Generations is out now for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3