The successful teaming of publishers Black Bean and developers Milestone have presented us with a steady supply of racing games over the years on both consoles and PC’s and with us already getting wet and dirty with MUD earlier in the year, now it’s the turn of the faster paced bikes from the FIM Superbike World Championships.
The SBK games have always been about realism and that can scare many a casual console gamer away, so to cater for the more pick up and play attitude there are three sim settings available, low, medium and full. The low simulation settings will assist with braking and steering and also cover the more intricate details of managing your bike, allowing you to pretty much go flat out through each course, grabbing a podium spot with relative ease which is fun but offers no real challenge; medium gives you more control, letting you get away with heavy handling of the throttle on most occasions with just a little wobble and only occasionally losing control and getting thrown off your bike but it also gives you a racing line that will change from green (good) to red (bad) to try and teach you some simple throttle and brake control. The full simulation mode gives you total control of the bike, removing all assists and unless you have has a lot of experience from the previous games I would suggest working up to this grade as it is seriously punishing, though the more rewarding once you have figured out cornering and not hammering the accelerator all of the time, add to this real time damage to both your rider and bike with too many crashes resulting in you no longer being able to race and this is here the real challenge lies.
SBK Generations has been split into four areas; Free Play allows you to try quick games, be it a few laps around one of the tracks from across the globe, a full on Race Weekend giving you chances to practice and qualify before the main event or the more streamlined Championships. There is also an online mode, with SBK Generations allowing you to take part in similar events to Free Play, pitting you against 15 other racers.
The SBK Experience allows you to take part in challenges in the form of highlights that have occurred over the past few years of the racing calendar, offering Completion Goals or if you are particularly good, Storming Goals that will eventually unlock more racers to use online. After creating a basic character and choosing your riding style you are then able to tackle a variety of challenges, varying from keeping to the racing line and not crashing to pulling off wheelies and passing checkpoints in time.
The Career Mode is where the main action is, with your rider starting off fresh in the 2009 season and allowing you to choose your racing team who will set goals for you to carry out during the year; these can be taking over a specific rival rider, pulling off slides and wheelies to finishing at a desired position in the overall league at the end of the year. With each win and challenge completed you earn Reputation Points, which will in turn gain the attention from better teams the following season. Each race over the four year FIM Superbike World Championship is presented just like the real race weekends, with practice runs and qualifying giving you chances to iron out just what you want from your bike, chatting to the engineers to tinker with the bikes specifications to give you the edge on the track and even carry out some research and development for them to improve the bikes even more. Most of the experience is fun and realistic enough to please racing fans, but it is let down by loading screens for each time you visit the track, sapping out the fun and anticipation of the race all too often.
The presentation of SBK Generations is what we expect from racing games, bass driven tunes and lots of quick edit shots of bikes, the riders and of course, the pit girls. The detail offered in action is a mixture of realistic and plain, with the riders and bike looking great and offering a real sense of speed, especially in the first person view but the surrounding environments are lacking, but I guess this is in keeping with the real tracks, just lots of tarmac, grass and the occasional spectator stand; though with the weather effects at least give you rain spots and dark clouds to look at.
SBK Generations achieves everything it set out to do, create a realistic as possible simulation experience of riding some of the fastest bikes in the world on your home console. If you are a racing fan this will be an enjoyable and deep game that will give you weeks of entertainment at a very reasonable price; if though you have no real experience in bike racing games, I would suggest a rental first just to make sure this is for you.
Rating: Good Review Policy (version tested: Xbox 360)
You can order SBK Generations for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC from ShopTo.