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I don't like racing games. I like good racing games: the Mario Karts, the Burnouts, and the Gran Turismos. I've tried plenty of other racers, but it seems like everything wants to be everything to everyone. Everything has to have "sim elements" coupled with its "arcade feel", and that never works. When I heard about SBK Superbike World Championship I approached it with a casual optimism. I'd never really found a bike racing game that could hold my interest, but I'm open to the idea.
Unfortunately, SBK falls flat on its face in every category. If it was possible, my review would simply be the word "bland." Everything, from the visuals to the actual content of the game, is bland. However, my editor frowns upon one-word reviews, so I have to write a bit more.
I usually don't complain about visuals when it comes to games, because I believe that gameplay is the most important part. However, I'm not really a fan of the bait-and-switch, either. The visuals on the back of the box look really nice, but I was very disappointed to find out that the game is nothing like that. It looks like a mid-life PS2 title. The levels are dead and barren wastelands, the characters are all just pallete swaps, and there aren't any crowds. There are just bleachers where crowds would be.
The game doesn't really have any sort of story mode, or career mode, or anything where there's a sense of progression. From the start, you have "Quick Race" "Instant Action" and "Championship Mode." Championship Mode is a bunch of races coupled with pre-races to determine your standing in the real race. "Quick Race" lets you pick the track, bike, bike rider, and laps, while "Instant Action" just drops you in the game. And, that's it.
Now, surely a game as bare bones as this would at least have some decent gameplay, right? They must have ignored every other aspect of the game to finely tune the racing, right? Unfortunately, this is not. Racing is, surprise surprise, bland. One of the biggest drawbacks to the racing is the lack of feedback that you receive from your controller. Take, for instance, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, the finest example of sim racing on any console. The controller will rumble differently depending on several factors; your speed of acceleration, the horsepower of your vehicle, the ground you're racing on, and so many more that are so minute that you'd have to tell me they exist. All of these help to get a "feel" for the vehicle and for the racetrack. SBK has none of these. I don't mind realistic driving with realistic turning, but I expect the game to give me realistic feedback. As it stands, SBK could have probably used a few more months of fine tuning.
I hate to dislike a game, any game, I really do, but any time I think of SBK, the word "bland" keeps popping back into my head. Bland bland bland bland bland. If the team would have spent just a little more time tuning the feedback, or adding more content, or improving the visuals, anything, it would have been a better game. However, I'm sure that hardcore superbike fans will find something to love with this game; they seem to be the target.
Platform(s):Xbox 360, PlayStation 3