SBK X Superbike World Championship • Page 2

Traction and reaction.

You then embark upon an eight-year career, which begins in the Superstock. Rather than hiring and firing staff, as is the case in rival MotoGP 09/10, the season remains rider-focused. You move between Free Practice, Qualifying and Warm Up sessions, aiming for better lap times and testing new parts and bike configurations, before heading out for the race itself.

The level of customisation is very impressive, with everything from suspension to steering fully adjustable. If rebound dampening is above your level of gear-headedness then you can also consult your race engineer in a Technical Meeting - essentially a list of multiple-choice questions - to iron out any kinks you may have with the default setup.

Beyond this there's an additional Race Options menu designed for motorcycle maniacs who want as realistic a racing experience as possible. After upping the race length to 100 per cent and maxing opponent skill level - as well as turning on race penalties and tyre wear - Milestone also offers masochists the option to switch on bike and rider damage.

Having both these on makes high-siding suitably disastrous, because not only will your bike's engine, braking and suspension systems be impaired, sometimes irreparably, but if your rider takes a severe enough tumble they may be retired from the race altogether.

When racing in the excellent cockpit view with the Simulation Settings and Race Options set to brutal, SBK X is one of the most punishing console racers available. However, if you ease into it on medium simulation with the AI set to amateur, winning an SBK season in the Career mode is still a steep challenge, albeit one that's more achievable for players who don't have real track-day experience.

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SBK X has an optional superimposed riding line like MotoGP 09/10, but its rally-esque corner indicator, which gradually turns red as you put off applying the brakes, is more useful.

Which brings us conveniently to the brand new Arcade mode. If you thought MotoGP 09/10 took liberties with its power-sliding, stopping distances and crazy lap times, you haven't seen anything yet.

Playing SBK X in Arcade mode is how I imagine the bike from Akira handles. There are no options for adjusting the riding experience and the Simulation controls - notably weight distribution and separate braking - are swapped out for simultaneous braking and a boost button that works like a nitrous injection. There's even a dedicated wheelie button.

Arcade has an aptly named Story Mode, which requires no input from the player other than to complete chapter-based objectives, such as placing ninth or higher after a rolling start, or beating another rider by three seconds across two laps.

Many of these can be completed in around five minutes and don't provide much of a challenge, but as an alternative to the demanding Simulation mode and its telemetry data charts, the less serious nature of Arcade can often provide a welcome break.

Although the Simulation and Arcade modes could feasibly be on separate discs, SBK X's most interesting feature is the improved Xbox Live functionality. Here we lose the Team Championships from SBK-09, but on the flipside we retain Quick Race and standard Championship in addition to the new online Time Attack. Player capacity is now 16, and the net code is more stable.

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SBK X's Limited Edition includes a fourth class, with SBK legends like Carl Fogarty, Pierfrancesco Chili and Colin Edwards. But until Milestone sends me a Limited Edition, I can't be sure it's not just making this up. Hint!

There's also a new ranking system that goes from 0 to 100 - with a spiffy new animal badge for each 10 ranks you climb. Unfortunately this system also keeps a running total of online crashes which, for some players, may be greater than their race tally.

Milestone has done an excellent job of accurately replicating each manufacturer's bike in minute detail. From the grilled fairing and Ohlins forks of the BMW Motorsport S1000RR, to the Brembo callipers and under-seat Akrapovic's of the Yamaha Sterilgarda R1, every inch is meticulously detailed.

The 14 tracks - which for some reason still includes Donington and not Silverstone - are similarly well-observed. All the corners, corkscrews and hairpins feel spot on. If there's a criticism of the visual side of the game, it's that bike damage could do with being more graphic, but it's not the end of the world that it isn't.

There are two sides to SBK X, really. The Arcade mode is probably too laid back - if you just want to dabble with bikes without putting much thought in, MotoGP 09/10 is a more gratifying game - but the Simulation is extremely flexible. In fact, it's the most exhaustive and complete motorcycle simulation currently available - and so, for those for whom that means the world, this could be the best buy of the year.

8 / 10

Read the Eurogamer.net review policy SBK X Superbike World Championship Matt Edwards Traction and reaction. 2010-06-10T11:00:00+01:00 8 10 Follow Eurogamer.net on Steam to get more PC game recommendations

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