Genre: Arcade Racing
Developer: Vir2l Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Game Studios
Release Date: 07/07/08
I admit it: I can be a pretty harsh critic. Guilty as charged. That is my sin as a video game reviewer and I suffer it gladly. That is why Ducati Moto DS has me so out of sorts. I find myself liking it in spite of what I thought made a game good. Could this little arcade motorcycle racing game be better than the sum of it’s parts?
The story of Ducati Moto is thus: you are a guy, or gal, who enjoys Ducati motorcycles and races them against other Ducatis for money and fame. Luckily, the variety of racing modes makes up for this rather flat plot.
For each area of the world, there are three tracks to race on. The Race mode is pretty straight forward. Your bike and four others go around the track 3 times and the first three places get money and points. Time Attack mode is another fairly simple mode, you race against a set of three times trying to get the best time. Eliminator is a more interesting version of Race mode. There are four bikes on the track and after each lap, the last place competitor is eliminated from the race. Race Line is my favorite of the modes. In Race Line, you are alone on the track, collecting stars laid out on the best racing line for the track. Race Line actually teaches you how to race a track correctly, if you pay attention to the star line.
Stunt mode deserves a little more attention. Basically a set of mini games, the stunt mode has you wheelie popping, long jumping, and burning donuts with your Ducati. The best thing about Stunt mode is that it has little bearing on your advancement through the game.
How do you advance through the game, you ask? Well, each win on the Championship circuit earns you cash and points. Cash can be used to buy new upgrades and new bikes. Upgrades make bikes vastly different from stock bikes and the bikes handle differently on different tracks. Points are used to unlock new areas and the tracks they contain. Cash can also be earned from gambling against other racers before the green light. These little sequences give you a chance to increase your finances and get a glimpse of the other riders’ personalities. It should be noted that this game contains riders of both sexes and a variety of ethnicities, which is a nice touch seldom featured in games, even now.
Let’s be clear: Ducati Moto is not going to be confused with a PS3 game. It will not blow your mind. What Ducati Moto’s graphics will do is run smoothly and move a surprising number of polygons well enough to engross you in the action. Is it the most gorgeous game ever made? No, but I like it.
The different models of Ducati motorcycles look distinct enough that you can tell them apart and the tracks look realistic enough to keep you focused on the racing and not the graphics.
The HUD is simple and functional, with a circular tachometer and a digital speedometer. The map on the bottom screen is clear and robust, but being able to look at it and speed around the track at 150 miles per hour takes some practice.
Sometimes, covering all the bases and doing so smoothly is all you need.
The first thing I thought when I heard the music in Ducati Moto was ‘Wow, this sounds like Meat Beat Manifesto’. If you, like me, have an affection for mid-90’s techno, then you will probably dig this game. Otherwise, I guess you can leave the sound off, but that would be a shame. The sound effects are very nice. The engine rumble is good enough to bring you into the game and the tire squealing is realistic. Trust me on that one.
Control & Gameplay
Using the Control Pad to steer and the A and B buttons for gas and brake is as easy as a racing game gets. What you will either love or hate is how flickable the bikes are.
For the uninitiated, motorcycles steer primarily through countersteer. Countersteer means turning your front tire against the turn and dropping your body weight into the turn. The more racing oriented a bike is, the less you steer and the more you lean. A bike that is easy to lean into deep turns is flickable. Ducatis are the kings of flickability. In Ducati Moto, it is very easy to flick bikes into turns, usually with a bit of tire squeal. Once you are used to this, the bikes are very easy to handle.
Ducati Moto has plenty of races to run and plenty of different bikes to try on them. Since each bike handles differently and each track has different challenges, you can run through the game a dozen or so times. Multiplayer helps extend the life of any racing game, and this is no exception.
Truth is, it is pretty easy to place with even the starting bike, so upgrades and new bikes come in a smooth arc. The first time you run Marrakesh without a dual sport, you will learn the beauty of a Hypermotard. Luckily, the difficulty ramps up and you have to be on point to get through the later tracks.
Arcade racing games with the world’s finest motorcycle brand don’t come around every day. There are very few arcade motorcycle games these days and the Ducati brand really does make this game feel special. The Stunt mode is cool enough to really make this game stand out.
Truth be told, Ducati Moto is a game that is pretty easy to pick up, play for 5-10 minutes, and put down again. The good news is, you’ll be picking up Ducati Moto more often than not. The number of bikes and tracks to unlock will keep you coming back.
What drew me into this game is the license. Simply put, you cannot just call something Ducati. Either it is or it is not. So, for a game to put Ducati on the box is quite a risk. Like a majority of Ducati fans, I may never own one, so a game that gives even a taste of Ducati ownership has an appeal. That said, Ducati Moto does quite a few things right in it’s attempt to capitalize on the name. It has the sense of speed, it has the variety of racing challenges, and it has a garage full of red bikes.
In the end, does Ducati Moto accurately model what it’s like to race on a real motorcycle? Nope, but that’s not the point. What the point is is the fun of racing around on expensive motorcycles in exotic locations. Mission accomplished.
Control: VERY GOOD
Balance: VERY GOOD
Addictiveness: VERY GOOD
Appeal Factor: VERY GOOD
Final Rating: VERY GOOD GAME!
Short Attention Span Summary
Ducati Moto is the best arcade motorcycle racing game I’ve played in years. While not the prettiest game ever made, Ducati Moto is a Scotty Pippen game: it does everything it should. Best of all, this is as close to a Ducati as you can get for $30.