When THQ released Moto GP Ultimate Racing Technology on the Xbox just over a year ago, it was seen as being one of the best titles that the Xbox had, for reasons such as it's lush graphics, huge number of unlockable features, and the sheer enjoyment that could be had from the high speed racing.
The popularity of Moto GP has undoubtably grown further by the inclusion of an online demo of Moto GP in the Xbox Live starter kit, bringing it to the forefront of Xbox gamers, and showing just what's possible with the online broadband gaming network. In fact we'd go as far to say that Moto GP appears to be one of the most popular games online at the moment, showing just how good the original title is.
So it will come as welcome news that Climax haven't removed any of the best bits, and have simply improved those which were already there - tracks have been updated to reflect the real world changes such as new corners and buildings. There's also a handful of completely new tracks experience, providing even Moto GP pro's with something new to master. URT 2 also sees the inclusion of 4 Stroke engines in the bikes this time round, and they handle very differently to the original 2 stroke engined bikes, with them being both faster and more heavy, meaning you'll have to find new ways to brake and corner effectively if you don't want to end up in the gravel trap.
Other additions include new riders and bike designs from the 2002 Moto GP season, along with a custom rider mode allowing you to create your own rider for use with the Live service. Climax have also souped up the graphics, which is quite an amazing feat when you consider the fact that they were already considered as some of the most impressive on the Xbox in the original title - puffs of smoke from your bike whilst changing up through the gears, and improved weather effects are just some of the improvements, although we can't help but feel that there's a slight loss in the feeling of high speed when your bike is being maxed out.
The most obvious visual change to URT 2 comes about when you crash - no longer does the viewpoint just see your bike spin through the air and crash, but instead takes the view of the rider, as you are launched through the air and thrown a few feet ahead, landing with a thud and tumbling around with the other bikes speeding past you just inches away until you come to a halt. A camcorder style view then pans and zooms from a trackside viewpoint to show your rider in the location where they ended up in a heap.
Moto GP Ultimate Racing Technology 2 is an absolute joy to use with Xbox Live, as the entire game has been built to work with the system instead of having it as just an add-on gaming mode. Right from the start the game finds your Xbox Live Gamertag if one is set up on your machine, and throughout the offline mode there is still a form of connection to the servers so that your fastest lap times can still be uploaded to the online scoreboards.
Racing online is simply a matter of selecting the Xbox Live online play option, and either picking a random race or specifying your particular requirements such as gameplay mode, number of laps, weather conditions, scoring system and a whole number of factors which allow you to decide what sort of online game to play in, with up to 15 other players. The screens have also been improved to show more gamers in the lobby area, and you can now see your ranking in the lobby so you've got an idea about how everyone compares.
Just as with the original title there's a good selection of gameplay modes, both online and offline, including single races, full grand prix championship races, along with the highly popular stunt and tag modes which always prove to be fun when played against other Live gamers.
Moto GP Ultimate Racing Technology 2 is an excellent update to one of Xbox's biggest hits, and the improvements which Climax have made to the sequel are sure to see the series staying a firm favourite in Xbox gamers collections - especially when it comes to Xbox Live titles, where this game simply excels.Overall score: 9 out of 10
Players: 1-4 plus online play via Xbox Live
Recommended Price: £34.99
Available: NowBuy Moto GP Ultimate Racing Technology 2 from Amazon