In the world of gaming motorbike racing games are few and far between, and when they are released they very rarely cause much of a splash. The official game for the World Superbike Championships 2007, SBK-07 Superbike World Championship is an uplifting title for the genre delivering in most areas required for a solid racing game, and it provides a realistic experience of what it takes to manhandle a superbike under incredibly stressful racing conditions.
The game offers several play modes including championship, time trial, quick race, and a challenge series mode where players can hone advanced racing techniques by completing a series of very tough manoeuvres. Championship will likely be the first pit stop for budding superbike drivers, with eleven official race tracks from real locations and fifteen different drivers and racing teams to choose from with their own signature superbike - although some teams need to unlocked. Concerning unlockables, there are plenty of bonuses such as cheats, movies and pictures of bikini clad babes, for the true gamers who are determined to complete every race in every game mode.
Beginners will want to play the game on arcade mode in order to grasp the relatively simple controls and racing style, but for advanced players developer Milestone has included the option to switch to simulation mode for a more realistic and far more challenging approach to handling the superbikes. Under simulation mode controlling the superbikes becomes a challenge in itself. Things such as braking and even accelerating become a feat of gaming skill; for example, accelerating too fast will send the front wheel into the air and the driver practising his stop-drop-and-roll technique. Thankfully the settings can also be tweaked to reach a compromise between too easy and too hard, such as removing motorbike damage or disconnecting braking assistance for added realism.
The drivers and bikes themselves are brilliantly detailed and animated, making the struggle between man and machine appear very convincing and causing the player to feel as if they are racing as the driver rather than the bike. The bone-crunching crashes, collisions and pile-ups that result from losing control of the overpowered superbikes all look the real deal and painful to boot. On a bad note the graphics and atmosphere of the tracks themselves leave a lot to be desired, the environments appear very plain and blocky, the sound effects fail to recreate the spectacle of thousands of drunken Euros screaming as the superbikes whiz past, and the soundtrack - when you can hear it - does little to compliment the energy of a racing scenario.
Players can jump in head-to-head against a friend in split-screen but this is about as far as the rabbit hole goes concerning multiplayer options, meaning fans of the sport will miss the opportunity to lock horns online. PSP owners will also be disappointed as there is no PSP hook up between the PS2 and PSP titles.
As far as motorcycle racing etiquette is concerned SBK-07 Superbike World Championship fulfils the requirements necessary to produce a title worthy of the genre, but it doesn’t seem to have the pizzazz and fun factor that some of the recent car-racing titles on the PS2 possess. Somehow racing on eleven nearly identical tracks without a decent soundtrack to elevate me does not compare to boosting the cops at ludicrous speeds in Need for Speed: Carbon. SBK 07 Superbike World Championship is great for fans of the sport but won’t captivate the imagination of the gamer who is just looking for a kick-ass game.