Don’t get us wrong, we like bikes as much as the next guys. We like riding bikes, we like looking at bikes, we like watching people rip their kneecaps off by falling off bikes at high speed. We like bicycle kicks, we like the phrase ‘get on your bike’, we even sort of like Burnley FC defender Andre Bikey. But do we like them enough to shun louder, more explosive racing games in favour of a gruelling motorbike simulation that’s as dry as a cactus with a skin condition? Well, that’s where we have our doubts.
And it seems we’re not entirely alone, because Milestone’s long-running SBK series has followed in MotoGP’s wake in attempting to open themselves up to a wider audience by including a more thrilling arcade mode.
Instead of attempting to find a biting point between arcade and sim, Milestone have wisely opted to keep the two extremes separate. The simulation mode remains largely unchecked, aside from improved weather dynamics which cause the traction of the road to shift and change as the races thunder on. The two-wheel braking system makes the series as uncompromising as ever for the newcomer, with late cornering attempts usually rewarded with a sand trap to the face, but SBK lightens up considerably when you opt for the arcade option.
Here, SBK no longer requires you to micromanage the rider’s positioning, with extra speed instead dished out thanks to a boost button, which limits the control you have over the bike but allows you to hare past trains of opposing riders faster than any Mario Mushroom.
Milestone have reworked the handling and the track layouts in an attempt to differentiate itself from the more substantial sim mode, but it still feels unfulfilling, like stirring your coffee with a knife because you’re all out of spoons. So despite its best efforts, SBK X remains a niche product, though if you’ve signed on for racing lines over powerslides, you’ll easily get your money’s worth here.
Jun 25, 2010