SBK Superbike World Championship (PS3)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Saturday, May 9, 2009

Graphics: 9.00
Sound: 5.00
Gameplay: 7.00
Replays: 6.00
Gamelength: 7.50

“SBK: Superbike World Championship” deserves an A for effort, but it lacks the overall enjoyment of other games in the genre.

The racing simulation genre is filled with games these days, but of those, only a handful stand out. “Gran Turismo” and “Forza Motorsport” are the most reknown titles of the genre, but there doesn’t seem to be any well-known racing simulations that include a heavy focus on bikes. Many developers have tried, but none of them stand out. This latest effort, published by Conspiracy Entertainment, is a step in the right direction, but just isn’t enough to hook anyone who isn’t a hardcore fan of SBK. That said, if you’re interested, hop on one of many tricked out superbikes and head off to the race track to take part in the “SBK: Superbike World Championship” for PlayStation 3.

One thing that this game does right is the visual presentation, which is one of the best in the genre thus far. Tracks look highly realistic and the bikes are nothing short of stunning. Drivers are well-animated and look as real as I’ve ever seen in a video game. The only real visual problem is a bit of the backgrounds here and there, which looks terribly lifeless and bland.

Sound quality is decent, with very realistic bike sounds and decent music, but for the most part, it’s a very lacking lineup. The soundtrack is nowhere near the calibur of “Forza Motorsport 2”, for example and while it fits the genre, it just doesn’t have that special charm. Still, the bikes do sound as real as you could ever expect, which is a definite plus.

Much like every other racing simulation, the sole purpose of this game is to live the life of a racer within’ the boundaries of the game world. To do this, you’ll need to take part in and win a large variety of different race events in order to both earn money and win new vehicles. Vehicles can also be purchased and nearly every vehicle in the game can be upgraded. Not only that, but there’s also a Forza-like element of tuning, which allows players to customize their vehicle attributes in nearly every way imaginable. This brings up the one really awesome feature of the game: Auto-tuning. For the less enthusiastic players, there’s no need to actually tweak things manually. The developers were kind enough to allow a simple one-button tuning feature that optimizes any vehicle to a certain extent. This helps the game feel a lot smoother with fewer breaks in the racing action. The controls are very simple to get used to, but there’s quite a large learning curve for those looking to complete the harder events. There’s a practice mode for just that purpose, which gets the job done fairly well for players willing to take the time out and learn the game. Events are spread out between “Race Weekend”, “Championship” and “Quick Race” modes, which all offer the same general thing: more places to race. There’s not much of a difference between all three modes in this case, but “Quick Race” is what I would consider to be the arcade-style mode of the game. There are a ton of bikes in the game, all of which are officially licensed and spot-on with their real-life counterparts. The same can be said about the drivers, all of which are taken straight from reality and brought to life here in video game form. AI is solid, although at times a bit too smart and requires a serious amount of effort to best in many cases. Online play is lag-free and generally not too empty, meaning players should find it rather easy to get into and finish a decent match. It all boils down to one fact, though: This is an average game that just doesn’t make the cut. It’s priced at a generous $19.99 MSRP, but for that same price, there are better options.

Overall, this is a solid game for those craving the official SBK experience and the price is certainly right, but I can’t shake the feeling that much more could have been done with this license.

Pros:
-Extremely realistic visuals.
-Authentic licensed vehicles.
-Authentic drivers.
-Auto-tune option is very cool.
-Plenty of events to go through.

Cons:
-Music selection is mediocre at best.
-AI is too smart sometimes.
-Controls are simple to learn, but have a ludicrous learning curve to master.

Bottom line:
If you’re a hardcore fan of SBK, this is the game for you, especially at $19.99. However, other racing fans may want to wait for something better or simply purchase something else.

Overall Rating: 6.50

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