When it comes down to it, most racing games are pretty similar: Accelerate, brake, corner, pass the other drivers, finish the race. But THQ's lovely but underappreciated MotoGP series is a more challenging, more involving experience altogether.
The accelerating-braking-turning dynamic is still there, of course, but in this game as in life, motorcycle racing is a different world from car racing. Along with controlling your bike, MotoGP requires that you manage your rider's position on the bike, all with the left thumbstick. The method is easy enough to pick up, but figuring out how it all comes together to best make your bike accelerate, brake, and turn is fairly tricky. It's fair to say that some people will be stuck enjoying the gorgeous crash sequences over and over while getting used to the control scheme, as motorcycles aren't as gentle as cars, crash-wise. But once you acclimate, carving through the corners while hanging off the bike and dragging a knee on the ground is a pretty gratifying experience. It'll make you a better racer in the Forza Motorsports and Project Gothams out there, but be warned that they'll seem a little slow and simple after MotoGP 3.
All this complicated-but-elegant racing can be enjoyed in either Grand Prix mode, which simulates the action of MotoGP, the international top-tier world championship racing series, or the inevitably titled "Extreme" (sigh) mode, which takes place on streets and highways all over the world. Grand Prix mode has the actual riders and tracks, Extreme has some simple vehicle customization options. Both are equally enjoyable, which is remarkable in a game that tries to play it both ways, and the experiences are different enough that most players will like both.
Beyond the gameplay: Once again, an Xbox racing game contains a vehicle-graphics customization mode that's almost as much fun as the game itself. It took about an hour to design the New-Look Team AV Club RC211V, and team members do not consider a single minute wasted.
Worth playing for: The challenge of mastering a third dimension of chassis dynamics is the next step for anyone who loves racing games in the first place.
Frustration sets in when: Those who merely like racing games are going to get tired of this pretty quickly, no matter how spectacular the crash sequences.
Final judgment: Like motorcycles themselves, MotoGP 3 punishes the dilettantes and rewards supremely those who persevere.