Called MXGP Pro after the title's freshly implemented Pro Physics, the attempt at greater realism makes clear that this soft reboot strives to reinvent the series by delivering a truly authentic motocross experience. This fourth iteration includes all tracks and riders from the 2017 season, a new photogrammetry system for enhanced track realism, and a free-roaming compound training mode. With the series releasing new entries every year and with the fairly similar Monster Energy Supercross released a matter of months ago there's understandably pressure for this reworked entry to shine.
MXGP Pro offers players two options when starting their career: standard and extreme. The extreme career is more catered to advanced players and blocks all race options and prevents the use of the rewind function, which we were so dependant on. In exchange for the gruelling limitations, players receive more credits and fame for completing races as well as exclusive outfits. You start your career by choosing your manufacturer and various sponsors before shaping the identity of your next future champion. Similar to other Milestone titles, (MotoGP and Monster Energy Supercross) you work to improve your standing in the sport signing better contracts and sponsorship details and facing off against the world's best racers.
Unlike MotoGP 18, which we recently reviewed, MXGP Pro features a fully-fledged training mode that offers players incentive to brush up on their skills. Players can school themselves in starting, braking, in-air control, cornering, and riding in the wet; with each course split into five different sessions. Finishing the starting sessions, for example, will allow you to exit the gates much faster if you are too quick on the gas, and completion of the braking sessions enable you to up the sensitivity and effectiveness of your braking. As precise handling and control are demanded when hitting the mud-splattered ramps and break-neck corners, it can feel easy to be deterred but with these rewards, we're expecting that players will push through training and remain engaged.
Outside of the career and training modes, there's also online multiplayer and a handful of other single-player modes to keep you busy. The online multiplayer sees you race others across the 19 tracks available (excluding both compound courses) and you can tweak aspects like the physics, the race length, and collisions to tailor your own hosted race. Single-player modes this time include Time Attack, Championship and Grand Prix. Time Attack is a self-explanatory race for the fastest times, Grand Prix is great for casual play and allows you to tackle any of the courses separately, and Championship allows you to make your own customised series of races.
Holding the circle button down in the main menu will transport you to a free-roaming training compound which is set in Lake Garda, Italy. This explorable sandbox lets you dash across multiple types of terrain and you can venture through the trees and practice hitting the ramps on its short dirt track. The compound is great to demo any of the modifications you've made to your bike and also doubles up as a relaxing distraction as you can just have a leisurely ride through the gorgeous scenery. We felt the compound was the perfect playground for beginners to explore before getting on the starting grid, as it provides a stress-free way to get used to racing and the various conditions.
There may not be as much of a visual upgrade here as there has been with MotoGP 18 moving to the Unreal 4 Engine, but there has still been plenty of subtle tweaks that have pushed the visual fidelity. MXGP Pro is the first entry in the series to feature the new photogrammetry system which has allowed the tracks to be recreated much more closely to their real-life counterparts. All of the tracks we played through from the lush mountain-side run of Italy's Pitetramurata to the wooded landscape of Czech Republic's Locket course looked gorgeous and we were really pulled in by details like the mud flinging up at us from the track and our driver's shirt blowing the breeze.
Touted as the "most realistic MX experience ever", MXGP Pro features improved racing physics that Milestone have dubbed pro physics. Among these enhancements, which have been implemented with help from community feedback, are clutch control for faster starts, more in-air control, and realistic whips. There's also improved AI that is programmed to behave more like actual pro racers, but that also makes them much better at following the ideal racing line and so the competition is actually harder. We also liked the option to tweak each component of your bike for better handling. We're sure that this is one that advanced players will really appreciate in particular because the degree of flexibility here has been amplified and its easier to find your ideal setup.
It may not feel like much of a step ahead of its predecessor as the recently released MotoGP 18 was, but MXGP Pro still stays true to its promise as being one of the most realistic and gorgeous MX titles on the market. Outside the more realistic pro physics and photogrammetry system, this entry has also provided players with more flexibility in terms of tweaking bikes. On top of that, the compound training mode is the perfect way for beginners to learn the ropes. Its title may allude to a complete revamp to the series and if that's what you're expecting then you'll likely be disappointed, but if you are seeking a solid motocross experience, you will struggle to find a stronger release from the series. That said, there's a fair amount of crossover with other Milestone career modes, and if you've already played one of those this year then you might start feeling two-wheeled fatigue.