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MotoGP 3 street-racing and online features revealed

Extreme mode takes you off the track and into the country, while "embedded online gameplay" is more interesting than it sounds and Commentator mode makes us cry.

The arduously monikered MotoGP: Ultimate Racing Technology 3 for Xbox and PC will feature a new street racing mode and increases the degree of online integration to levels previously unseen in a racing game, sensibly abbreviated publisher THQ announced this week.

The street racing bits don't signal any sort of major shift; they're just there as an extra, as far as we can establish. Huddled under the banner of Extreme mode, they introduce MotoGP fans to city and suburban tracks based on actual race locations including a few bits of Japan and the country roads around Donington here in the UK.

There'll be another sixteen original bikes, too, modelled on real bikes and ranging in power from 600cc to 1200cc superbikes.

Online, both the PC and Xbox Live versions benefit from three big-name features - Embedded online gameplay, Spectator mode and Commentator mode. The first of these, "embedded online gameplay", refers to the continued blurring of the lines between single and multiplayer modes, already felt to a certain extent in MotoGP 2 after Project Gotham Racing 2 demonstrated precisely how it should be done.

The idea is, simply, that you can play single-player events online as well as offline; it's entirely up to you. And developer Climax has also introduced a seeding system that tries to match players against similarly-skilled opponents, which ought to make for an interesting challenge rather than one typified by frustration as our early brushes with MotoGP certainly were.

Spectator mode, meanwhile, is just that, allowing players to watch others racing instead of just waiting in the lobby for other players to finish, while Commentator mode lets you assign a particular player to commentate on the race action. We love this idea so much we want to see it in every game from now on. It calls to mind the self-commentary a friend of ours used to apply whenever he got the ball on the playing fields. As he lurched towards goal completely unchallenged by friend, foe, animal, vegetable or concrete changing room, he'd slip into a half-deranged impersonation of Motson and inexplicably blurt, "Aaaand he's coming round the bend!" Going round it, more like. Football is not a land of corners, unless you're Gerrard Houllier.

Er, and this item is about bikes isn't it? Well - some nice features then, one of which brought a teary childhood memory to mind. Get yourself weepy-eyed in Q3 of this 'ere year.