Today, I’ll be talking about MXGP3: The Official Motocross Videogame and the lesson of how some ports can go horribly wrong, especially in the wake of a surprisingly popular console like Nintendo Switch. MXGP3 is a prime example of how a rushed title can poop all over that goodwill of both the Motocross brand and proven hardware, and it does so in horrendous fashion. It would simply be a disservice to fans and curious consumers alike to say otherwise.
Now, even I admit that is one hell of a scathing indictment, and while it’s not fair to directly compare one console to the next, especially those with such noticeable gulfs in technology like the Switch and, well, pretty much anything else. It’s not like I was expecting something like Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo on Nintendo’s hybrid machine, but seriously…
MXGP3 was released earlier this June on other consoles and the PC, and compared to the Switch version I’m reviewing, something felt immediately wrong from the get-go. From the title screen onward you set up your character and embark on your career, and everything appears almost normal as you make your team jersey, pick your official bike brand (Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki to name a few), and pick a sponsorship.
The gameplay appears to be straightforward as the campaign and the oncoming challenges rarely deviate from the objective of beating a rival on the leaderboard or clearing a grand prix with the most points overall. The amount of content is thin but will fulfill the basics that most racing game fans expect, along with a decent selection tracks from over a dozen countries and varying weather conditions. You’ll do well to learn the rules of dirt racing where mechanics such as rutted turning lines that dictate how your bike will cut a curve or upgrading your bike in order to stay within the pack. All of makes the not-so-pristine sport of motocross engaging.
Or at least it should, because MXGP3 is almost unplayable for the Nintendo Switch in all conventional and technical aspects. The graphics alone are an insult to the eyes that utterly fail in texture and clarity quality, and don’t even come halfway to utilizing the overall capabilities of the Switch. This alone is shocking because MXGP3 is not a visually demanding game by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a blurry mess of poorly aliased polygons and indistinguishable details in the rider jerseys and motocross livery, similar to somebody smearing grease across the screen, regardless of whether you play it in docked or portable form.
You’d expect with such degraded visuals some sort of tradeoff in framerate performance, but alas, MXGP3 is as a choppy as it is hideous. This game runs between 20-30fps on average, often struggling to maintain this meager benchmark. In fact, it’s downright appalling if you’re coming from any other version of this game on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or PC.
I could end this review here but it all comes to a head when you realize that it literally makes the basic act of steering and racing impossible to enjoy. You cannot turn your bike properly and anticipating whatever turn or obstacle ahead of you has to happen more than 5 seconds ahead of time — I’m not even being funny when I tell you this. The act of racing is replaced with how stiff and unresponsive your supposedly nimble dirt bike even fails to make a broad turn.
I couldn’t believe how badly Milestone S.r.l dropped the ball with a port of a six-month old title, and it’s equally mystifying how the other versions exhibit few of these issues. Granted, MXGP3 was hardly a masterpiece, but playing this game on any other platform is like night and day. The amount of neglect on display is borderline criminal for unsuspecting Switch users anxious for more racing action after they finish with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Our managing editor always associates unfavorable games of today to those of the PlayStation 2; and usually, I roll my eyes whenever he uses this blanket statement. But this port of MXGP3: The Official Motocross Videogame is more than deserving of this distinction, and probably less than that. I wanted to go in harder on this game because it’s not just terrible on its own; it’s a poor effort of what developers are capable of producing on the Switch, and there’s no excuse with fine ports like DOOM, L.A. Noire, NBA 2K18 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim readily available. Just do yourselves a favor and avoid this dumpster fire.