Motorcycle Club is…interesting. On one hand, it features a physical aesthetic similar to that of Drive Club, but features a variety of motorcycles, from track to touring. Like traditional racing titles, you’ll explore a variety of tracks and compete in timed trials, all while trying to outrun your competition. Plus, the online component ensures that you’ll have plenty of new competition…when the online segment works (more on that in a bit).
Probably the freshest and most unique element of Motorcycle club is the ability to hot-swap bikes mid-race, at the expense of a couple seconds of lap time. By pressing the L1/L2 buttons, you’ll be able to cycle through the three major bike types according to need. Once selected, your rider will transition to the new bike via ghosting, and you’ll continue the race with your chosen bike. It’s a necessity to switch, especially if you want to make top marks.
Each track features not only a potpurri of twists and turns, there are also environmental hazards to avoid; the most problematic being broken road. Now, one might wonder why a world-series race is taking place on a track that features broken road, but in order to enjoy Motorcycle Club, you’ll need to suspend disbelief a little bit. Ok, a LOT. For starters, even though the game highlights 22 actual bikes from Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, BMW, Suzuki and more, you’ll notice that they all tend to sound exactly the same. Hell, KTM and Honda, both of which have real-world bikes with a throaty, roaring V-Twin engines come off as tweety, buzzing lightweights. Sure even though each bike has differing specs, the only time they truly feel different is when you’re interacting with environmental hazards, like uneven asphalt. Also a major detractor in the sound department, is the lack of a strong background score. What I mean is, the background music is so incredibly minimal, that it really shines a spotlight on how each bike sounds. Plus, when you’re playing solo (and/or challenge missions), the sound of the engine can get downright annoying…especially when you’re driving a superbike.
In terms of actual gameplay, it reminds me a lot of the old Sega arcade game Hang-On, in that the physics are distorted to the point of being comical: your rider is essentially a Weeble that will never really have to worry about dumping your bike, unless you’re clipped into a wall by another rider, or slide into a glitchy pile-up (as we often did). Running into other riders feels more like a glitch than any real impact, mostly due to your rider just skipping into other players, and slowing your speed.
Motorcycle Club features a decent amount of customization, from bikes to “Club” patches…unfortunately, your club’s rockers will only be displayed in the triple garage/clubhouse that serves as your main menu. If you’re expecting Sons of Anarchy level shenanigans, or “club retribution” for track slights, you’re in for disappointment. It’s essentially a slightly-gussied up version of a straightforward racing title, minus any of the open-world, level exploration that has become a staple of most modern racing titles. Plus, you can complete a series of Constructor Challenges for the club, which are rather difficult and constrain you to a set of handicaps (IE using a single bike), all for unlock points and bragging rights.
Even with all of these issues, though, Motorcycle Club would be an ideal racing title for your kiddos: it features overly generous physics, features little-to-no actual violence and has plenty of unlockables to encourage replay value. Plus it has an MSRP of $29.99, which places it in the gray area of budget-pricing. It’s no MotoGP, but you’re more or less getting what you pay for.