Inside Pulse 12

Review: Motorbike (Sony PlayStation 3)

coverMotorbike
Genre: Attempted Video Game Sim
Developer: baKno Games
Publisher: baKno Games
Release Date: 6/25/2013

With all the games I’ve played in the last couple of years I’ve played only a couple I’d say were terrible. There have been games that look bad, but were conceptually interesting, or looked good but were bland, or had poorly added microtransactions, or had more bugs than a cheap motel room. It’s rare to come across a game that manages to get everything wrong. The Croods game managed that but that’s not atypical for a movie tie-in.

Motorbike manages to be one of those rare games.

I should’ve realized what I was in for when I loaded up the game and was greeted with a menu that managed to be both sparse and yet still not user friendly. A couple of yellow boxes against a background that is solid black make up this menu. From there you have the option to go change the bike and rider, both with extremely limited aesthetic options. Changing the bike doesn’t change the handling and has zero effect on how you play the game. The main section of the menu is divided into a couple of boxes so you can choose between the tracks that come with the game, or ones made by users, and the center box lets you scroll up and down between those tracks. For the track selection there is no difference made between easy/hard tracks or tracks of varying obstacles or objectives. It’s just one list of tracks you can go through, all are unlocked from the beginning. The tracks created by the community have ratings you can add to them, but there’s no way of searching or filtering tracks based on this rating. You have to scroll through each track individually.

It should be an obvious warning that when a developer can’t make a decent menu that the game is going to suffer. For Christ’s sake, even as bad as The Croods was, at least the menu was okay.

As far as the actual game goes, I hesitate to call it a Trials clone, though that’s the game that is resembles the most. Both have you driving left to right on a motorcycle, trying to overcome obstacles with careful leaning of the rider and acceleration/braking of the bike. I still hesitate in calling it a clone because it feels offensive to compare this piece of garbage to Trials. It would be like if I compared a steak dinner to a piece of poop I leave in a toilet hours later. Sure they’re made up of mostly the same things, but I wouldn’t try to say one is a clone of the other. Just in case that’s unclear, Trials would be the steak dinner while Motorbike would be the poop in the toilet.

motorbike

Motorbike uses obstacles that you have to ride over or across to complete a level. These obstacles are made out of objects in the game, many of which aren’t tied down to the environment and can be influenced and moved around with the physics engine the game runs on. There are many tracks where this actually breaks the track, like a ladder set up like a ramp that is leaning against a barrel. I drove onto the ladder and instead of driving up the ramp, the ladder shot out from underneath my bike. Without the ladder leaning as it was, the level then became unbeatable, forcing me to restart from the beginning.

This is not a rare occurrence within the level design of the game.

There were moments when I died and when the level reset it reset the objects, which then fell back to earth incorrectly or something and got messed up, making it impossible to complete the level. There are several loop-de-loops in the game with openings at the end that are too narrow for the rider to fit through (most of these I was able to get through by not completing the loop and instead driving up to the ledge and carefully leaning over the lip of it). I played through the first 40 levels out of 80 in this game hoping that one level would show some decent sense of levels design, figuring it could only get better, but it doesn’t! I don’t plan on seeing if the last 40 levels are any good because the first half is so atrociously designed that I don’t believe the developer knows what they’re doing.

motorbike2

There’s a track editor, but it’s about as user friendly as the menu to access the user created tracks. Trying to create a track is like trying to drive heavy machinery after drinking a bottle of NyQuil. You could try to fumble your way through it, but it’s a mess and what you make will not look anything like what you were to do trying to do, and overall it’s just not recommended. Even if you succeed, the system for sharing and finding tracks is so convoluted as to make this an exercise in failure.

The graphics are okay in a screenshot. When in motion the frame rate is constantly in flux, there’s screen tearing, and some janky stuff going on in the background. The trees in the background jerk around oddly like they’re dancing to music that’s got a different beat than the generic rock that plays. The frame rate chugs worse when there are a lot of loose rocks on the screen, so it’s an odd decision by the developer to make a few levels that are mostly just loose rocks of different sizes. There are only a couple of backgrounds and many of the items do not look very different to each other, so most of the levels I played looked the same. When the rider falls off of the bike it flops around a little, but most of the time this glitched out on me and my rider would fall off after a slight bump and then rocket off screen only to fall down from space from the top of the screen. It was amusing the first time, I guess. The sound effects are mediocre and the background music is what the mute button was made for.

The layout of the controls is perfectly fine, how the game controls while playing is a different thing altogether. The weight of the bike never seems constant; you might make a jump several times and even though you’re certain you did the exact same thing as you did the last time a different result will occur. Even if the levels were designed better, the weight and physics of the game make playing it feel sloppy compared to either Trials or Urban Trial Freestyle. It’s the equivalent of floaty jumping physics in a platform game – the weight, speed, and effect of leaning do not feel right for the physics of this game.

Add this together with the terrible level design and you’ve got a hot mess of a bunch of pixels that slightly resembles a video game.

This game is so bad that pausing doesn’t pause the game it just sets it into slow-motion. A game about twitch reactions doesn’t pause properly. Think about that one. It. Doesn’t. Pause. Correctly.

The terrible level design makes it feel like you’re lucky, not skilled, when you pass a segment. After the first couple of levels of fighting bad level design it seemed natural to think that maybe the developer didn’t understand the concept of checkpoints. I mean, they obviously didn’t get how menus work, or physics, and so on, so that seemed like an easy assumption to make. But then a mysterious checkpoint will randomly appear every few levels, just enough of them to think that the developer is just screwing with the player.

To top it off, they’re trying to charge $15 for this game! Fifteen mother loving dollars! I’d seriously pay $15 just to get the time I spent playing this game back. Every game that costs $15 is of better quality than this. Every one. This game is so terrible I tried to see if there was a way to report it to Sony to remove it from the marketplace because of all the technical issues, but what’s messed up is even when it is kind of functioning it’s still one of the worst games I’ve ever played. Mentally when I review games from now on I’ll use this game as a metric to determine what the worst a game can be and still be somewhat playable.

Short Attention Span Summary
Get on a motorbike and drive as far away from this game as possible.