Bike games are hard. Finding the inch-perfect line every time, keeping it on the black stuff and shiny side up amidst a field of certified mentalists while juggling brake balance, lean angle and rider weight is a demanding prospect for even the most experienced gamer.
However, although we're all for being eased into a game, SBK's Arcade mode offers so much assistance that you can ride at full lean, at full throttle on the gravel without getting asphalt in your face. By way of contrast, the full-on Sim mode is so demanding that just using the front brake in a turn will have you off. It's almost easier to ride a real-world superbike than make a perfect lap of Valencia in the game. There's a perfect balance somewhere in the middle, but we struggled to find it.
SBK-07 is one of the most contradictory games of all time. It does so much right, then shoots itself in the foot. Or rather, it's so average with a few dashes of genuine brilliance. Take the graphics - the rider animation from the chase cam is slightly rudimentary, but the sensation of banking from cockpit cam is unrivalled on PS2. Call us geeks, but we loved details like the working dashboards and two-fingered braking. But then we loathed oversights like the lack of any aerodynamic penalty on top speeds when sitting your rider up from behind the screen and into the airflow for a look behind on a straight.
NOT SUPERBIKES, BUT OK ONES
No matter how much of a fan of World Superbikes you are, this is a game that's hard to truly love. Demanding gameplay, slightly barren graphics, some questionable animation and slow loading times all add up to what should be a less than average score. But we couldn't stop playing it, convinced we could shave time off, bag a perfect lap and control the perfect rear wheel slide through a messianic combo of throttle and rear brake control. And we could, honest. When no-one was watching.
Chances are that if you're thinking about buying this game, you're a bit of a bike fan. And that's just as well, because there's little on offer here to tempt you away from four-wheeled fare like Burnout or Gran Turismo. If you want a game that happens to have bikes in, look elsewhere. If you want a bike game to keep you busy when you're out of the saddle, and have exhausted Tourist Trophy and MotoGP, then you're quids in.
Overall Can't ride a bike? This is the next best thing. Can ride a bike? Guess what, it still is.