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SBK 07 Superbike World Championship (PlayStation 2) artwork

SBK 07 Superbike World Championship (PlayStation 2) review


"Crashes are great. Bikes will smash off competitors, spin madly in the air and whack other riders into oblivion; with 22 racers eagerly pushing for places, wheel-clipping and faring-rubbing is going to happen. In full credit to SBK Ď07, the great sense of speed the game presents doesnít slow down one iota should ever single on of these bikes find their way on-screen Ė quite the achievement for the seven-year-old hardware itís housed on. "



I donít watch full World Superbike races; I watch the highlights. These garner me all the spectacular crashes I crave without all the haberdashery of the actual race itself. It could be argued that Iím missing the point, but who wants to see overpowered cycles whiz around the track when I can see them slide out on a corner, scythe through a crowd and scatter tightly-packed bikes and their riders like a collection of skittles travelling at 200mph?

This mentality limped me through MotoGP. When I was still learning the ropes of the game, I didnít stand a chance: I flew off on all the corners, I made costly mistakes and I was punished. After getting lapped by everyone and their grandmothers, I amused myself with high-speed crashes, left my rider in what should have been a catatonic state and my motorbike bouncing so high off the concrete roads that it threatened to leave the Earthís stratosphere. I only eased up on this after me and the game finally clicked and I stood a half chance against the pack. This took me several hours of racing, of learning the physics, of nailing the corners. Of running the race just right.

In the first fifteen minutes of SBK í07, I felt I stood a chance against the front runners. All 21 of them.



This is because, despite the official licence, SBK Ď07 finds itself in a rather unique place as far as motorbike racers go. Itís not the unforgiving sim that MotoGP is but, at the same time, itís not the balls-to-the-wall arcade racer games like Super Hang On represent; instead, it manages to find a stable balance between the two. A little too much brake or a slight misjudging of a corner wonít send you barrelling under the wheels of the opposition right away, but thereís enough realistic physics hidden behind the more forgiving nature of the game to still punish you should you make a bad call. The bikes can -- and will -- hug those corners tightly, but, unless theyíre misjudged awfully, you lose only seconds and not limbs in a spectacular crash. Better still, if you do crash (whacking in to other racers is just about the only way the rider will ever leave the bike) he isnít left to skid along on his arse until his momentum runs out, but is placed back on the bike in a matter of seconds.

Crashes are great. Bikes will smash off competitors, spin madly in the air and whack other riders into oblivion; with 22 racers eagerly pushing for places, wheel-clipping and faring-rubbing is going to happen. In full credit to SBK Ď07, the great sense of speed the game presents doesnít slow down one iota should every single one of these bikes find their way on-screen Ė quite the achievement for the seven-year-old hardware itís housed on. Other cool little touches are abound; fellow racers will noticeably turn their heads and look at you if you stray too close, and, should you try and overtake them, will do their utmost to block you out of their position. These details go a long way from shielding the decidedly dated graphics and the odd presentation that isnít shy about shoving bottle-blonde girls in very little clothing at you at almost random intervals.



You even have to endure the harlots as unlockables: instead of having you work towards a plethora of bike-related extras, you can instead unlock pictures of these promiscuous girls and their skimpy leather outfits parading around the pit lane. Itís an odd choice to give as an achievement. Most sports game rightly try and keep things in context, while this inclusion feels cheap and shallow. Even if you donít find this quite as jarringly odd as me, the strange picks continue: the music is an odd nu-metal/old-school techno hybrid, the menus are cumbersome and poorly placed out and the load times seem to stretch on forever, popping up at even the slightest bit of prompt. With a game housing such simple graphics, do they need to take an eternity to load? Even outside of presentation, where SBK Ď07 seems to drop the ball hardest, for a game that wants to run off a strong semi-arcade pick-up-and-play foundation, events like qualifying and even the races themselves seem to fall on the wrong side of overly complex.

But.

Get over the lacking presentation, work through the difficulties and ignore the awkward promotion of all things curvy (I canít believe Iím complaining about girls wearing very little clothing, either) and youíll find a Superbike racing game that falls in between niches and stands out on its own. A little research has shown me that SBKís developers, Milestone, have gone nigh five years in between bikes games. For the most part, they spent their time wisely.

Rating: 7/10

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (May 14, 2007)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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