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Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Namco
Developer: Namco
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Racing

Graphics & Sound:
I can tell already that this is going to be a hard review to follow. First of all, don't make the same mistake I did and confuse this series, MotoGP, with another series called Moto GP. This one is by Namco - the other is by THQ. Of course, in the long run I don't think the difference matters since both are excellent titles - it's just one of those funny things.

MotoGP3 is a beautiful racer that, in my opinion, ranks right up there with Gran Turismo 3. The bike and rider models look fantastic. I was especially impressed with the amount of detail each featured, and the fact that the frame-rate never dropped - even with multiple bikes on the track. Weather effects also play a big role in not only making the game look pretty, but in the gameplay. Wet tracks give off a nice reflection effect, as well as vision hampering haze and water plumes. Sunny days come complete with lens flare and the occasional blinding glare. The only real downside I noticed was the less-than-stellar trackside objects, but when you're going 200 mph, you're not likely to notice.

Sound isn't nearly as impressive as graphics, but it does its job nicely. Rather than include licensed songs like a number of other racers, MotoGP3 includes a set of generic rock and techno tunes. I wasn't too impressed, but like I said - they do their job. Engine sounds are great, and many players will probably find it preferable to turn off the music and just listen to the engines.

MotoGP3 is a fully licensed, motor bike racer featuring fifteen official circuits, twenty fantasy tracks, and a full roster of real riders. Like most racing games, MotoGP3 offers two flavors of play - Arcade and Simulation. The offered gameplay modes include Arcade, Season, Time Trial, Challenge, and Legends, and are varied enough to keep fans busy for hours on end.

Season Mode is easily the deepest of the five modes. You begin the game by choosing from one of 12 official sponsors and racing for them. As you move up in ranks, better sponsors with bigger wallets and faster bikes will come knocking. In addition, you'll also have to deal with some of the more nagging issues like fuel management and tire wear. Unfortunately, there's no option to fine-tune your bike with parts, but you can earn better bikes by joining new teams. However, the game does offer the option to tweak your bike settings such as engine performance, tires, and gear ratios.

Challenge Mode plays just how it sounds - you complete challenges. These involve the usual 'challenges' found in racing titles such as finishing a track in a certain amount of time, or beating a certain rider. Depending on how well you do in each challenge, you can earn one of three medals. In turn, amassing a collection of medals allows you to unlock bonus content such as new riders. Legend Mode is something that is likely to only be truly appreciated by fans of the sport since it's the racing equivalent of playing one-on-one with Michael Jordan in a basketball game.

Switching between Arcade and Simulation is not something that should be taken lightly. The difference between them is noticeable. When playing the Sim-mode of MotoGP3, opposing rider-aggression is ramped up significantly, as are the in-game physics. The game also offers three difficulty levels, however, I wouldn't advise even looking at the Easy level since it has a way of sucking most of the fun out of the game. Rider A.I. is really good and doesn't seem to have the same 'rubber-band' mentality other racers have. If you fall behind in a race, don't expect the computer to slow down and let you catch up.

Game Mechanics:
It should go without saying that motorcycle racing is a completely different experience from racing cars. One of the aspects that requires the most adjustment is getting used to balancing yourself on the bike and not throwing too much of your weight into a turn. MotoGP3 isn't a game that newcomers can just jump into and start winning races in - it will require a little practice. In order to make the transition a little easier, Namco has included a nearly endless array of options that allow players to fine-tune the game to fit their playing style.

MotoGP3 is admittedly a niche title. However, as far as racing games go, it's one of the best on the system. Combining top-notch visuals and excellent gameplay, as well as an abundant supply of game modes, this is a game that will keep fans busy for a while.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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