After the golden period in the nineties, Milestone is ready to restore luster to the championship of production derivatives with SBK 22
“Once upon a time” there was a Milanese software house that in the mid-nineties shocked the world of computerized four wheels forever with the Screamer series: it was called Graffiti and was led by Antonio Farina. After changing your name, Milestone aimed at the world of two wheels grabbing the license for the Superbike World Championship, a series that was very popular at that time and even capable of undermining the popularity of the World Championship, despite the fact that a certain Valentino Rossi was in the premier class (500cc). Milestone chose the factory derivative championship because it was the only license available on the market and with its Superbike World Championship it exceeded the expectations of fans of Foggy, Corser and associates.
Impressive to see on PCs of the period, it amazed in terms of simulation realism and gameplay. Unforgettable, then, the technical comment of Giovanni Di Pillo (the “black comma” is still engraved in our minds) who was the official commentator on TV. The levels of excellence reached by Milestone in the three-year period ’99 -2001 have not been seen anymore except sporadically: after ten years the Milanese team is trying again with the Superbike championship, thanks to the brilliant results obtained with the MotoGP and Ride series. So let’s dive into the world of SBK 22.
SBK 22 and MotoGP22: so the same, so different
Superbike bikes have evolved in a surprising way in recent years (engine and electronics) and, often, in some circuits the best riders in the championship have managed to get close to MotoGP times (the difference is calculated in a couple of seconds). The tire-cycling package proposed by the production derivatives it is easier to manage than a prototype of the highest category which requires an extremely clean riding style: on the contrary, SBK bikes tend to move a lot, are more nervous and less rigid.
And above all permissive: it is much easier to find a good feeling and the limit with these racing cars than in a MotoGP. This is in summary what occurs in the expected SBK 22 of Milestone, especially for those coming from the MotoGP series developed by the same house. A couple of laps in Misano are enough to notice the videogame differences between Alvaro Bautista’s Ducati Panigale V4R proposed in SBK 22 and Pecco Bagnaia’s Ducati Desmosedici in MotoGP 22: the physical model is different (regardless of the weight / motorcycle rider) and can be appreciated by removing any type of electronic aid.
Permissive driving model
From braking to top speed, you immediately feel more forgiving in mastering Johnny’s Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR or Toprak’s Yamaha R1 compared to a MotoGP bike.
Warning: this does not mean that you can enter the corners at full speed while braking on two wheels at the same time as the legendary Kevin Schwantz used to do. It means that the chassis / framethe braking system (the discs are simply steel for Superbike, carbon for MotoGP), tires (Pirelli on one side, Michelin on the other) e the weight of the motorcycle (a derivative weighs 168 kg against the 157 kg of a prototype) have a different impact in game physics. To reproduce this permissiveness Milestone has chosen a less punitive approach (here the review of RiMS Racing, for example) and less complex than its own simulation dedicated to MotoGP: the physical model implemented is probably a revised and modified version of the one developed for the premier class of prototypes. In fact, it is possible to experiment and trajectories and rope points in SBK 22 that are impossible in MotoGP 22. It goes without saying that we expected something more detailed, perhaps halfway between that experienced in RiMS Racing or in the MotoGP series itself.
A rather familiar graphics
A feeling of déjà accompanies the player when he takes to the track: the bikes (they are beautiful), the cut-scenes (animations and faces can definitely be improved) and some tracks appear quite familiar to those who have played one of the latest editions of MotoGP. Tested on PlayStation 5, SBK 22 was appreciated right from the first laps on the track for a good fluidity, even the “wow” effect that is experienced with other titles (here the review of F1 22) was lacking: pop-ups and glitches there was no shortage, while the asphalt on certain circuits – such as in MotoGP 22 – is characterized by a very strange “washed out” effect.
The rain on some tracks is credible, less so on others. In any case, the trackside contour has been improved and the twelve championship tracks are reproduced with great gure. As regards animations by Rinaldi, Redding and other SBK phenomena there is little to complain: they are overall good and compared to the MotoGP 22 riders there is a lesser tendency to detach the leg before a braking. The faces of the 24 pilots are quite similar to their real counterparts (hair apart), with some very similar and others not.
Where is the commentary?
If for the animations of the riders one has the feeling that Milestone has borrowed several traits from MotoGP 22, on the sound of the Ducati Panigale V4R or the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR there is no doubt: they are new. It should be noted, then, that unlike MotoGP 22 in SBK 22 there is no type of technical comment, no Max Temporali, no Edoardo Vercellesi. Positive notes also for the AI managed by ANNA (the system based on neural networks launched in MotoGP 19) which limits the formation of trains and rear-end collisions on the track.
The pilots managed by the CPU “notice” the presence of the player and other opponents and no longer follow the usual predetermined trajectory and also prove to be able to exploit the mistakes of others. The thirty-year history of production derivatives is dotted with epic duels (Foggy and Chili at Assen in 1998) and contacts at the limit between the riders, such as those we have seen this season between Rea, Bautista and Razgatlioglu: in SBK 22 there is no shortage of touches , rear-end collisions (we happened to take off by climbing on the rear of an opponent’s bike) and ignorant entrances. Unfortunately, fist fights and hands on the helmet have not yet added them …
Few content but good
The content offer of SBK 22 is rather minimal: tutorials, fast modes (possibility to play an entire championship, a race weekend or a time trial), the usual essential career and a multiplayer sector. However, it is possible to customize the experience on and off the track according to your needs: from the aggressiveness of the AI to the severity of the race direction (black flags and long lap penalty) or the available help, there is nothing to complain about. . Milestone has given a lot of space to customization even if the editor appears limited.
As for the additional content, we still don’t know if they will be added other minor categories (Supersport 300) or some SBK legend but we remain optimistic. Career is in line with what we have already experienced in Milestone productions. Our pilot has the opportunity to search for a contract in an official team or start your own team. We find ourselves managing contracts, improving the technical staff available, developing the bike and achieving the pre-established objectives: all with an eye to the budget and schedule of commitments. A simple and playable Career mode that is very similar to that of MotoGP 22: innovations are postponed to next year. On the multiplayer front, challenges are available in Superpole, Races, Time Trials and more: more or less what you find in the version for the prototypes of the same Milestone.
SBK 22Version Analyzed PlayStation 5Without infamy, without praise, Milestone’s return to the world of Superbike. We expected something more, it is useless to deny it: the Milanese team has limited itself to doing what is strictly necessary. SBK 22 is an overall interesting simulation, limited in content (the other categories are trivially lacking) and sold at a budget price. In any case, we recommend the game to fans of Bautista and Rea.