As a rather unprofessional start to this review I’m going to declare my ignorance of 2 wheeled driving machines. As far as I’m aware driving involves four wheels, air conditioning and a sound system. So for all those bike enthusiasts reading this forgive me if I make any mistakes when discussing these “motorcycle” things. They seem to go fast and as far as I can see are held up with some kind of magic. Games however I understand so without further ado I’ll just blindly stumble my way through this one.
FIM (you can be assured I will not be writing the full title out for this one) is a dirt bike racing simulator that most of us will probably have a hard time analysing as a simulator. As far as simulators go its going to be almost impossible to judge even for those who regularly ride a bike given that they probably aren’t professional dirt bike riders, but then the point of a simulator is to make us feel like it’s real, I’ve never done any farming but I’m sure the tractors can flip a few hundred meters into the sky and then drive away like in Farming Simulator.
There is a surprisingly sophisticated handling system at work beneath the brash exterior that makes FIM quite satisfying. Sliding and speeding your way through the mud with a host of other maniacs on death machines is fun and exciting which even I can’t deny it most probably would be for the minute before I fell off and went to hospital. It might not be like the real thing but it’s as close to it as I want to be. It certainly feels complex enough that it’s worthy of simulator status. Like I said most of us don’t know the real thing but FIM does a good job of making me feel like I’m experiencing a digital rendition of it.
Enough so that I am almost entirely unable to make any noticeable progress. There’s a hell of a lot of sliding to get used to given the dubious mix of overpowered bikes and a what is essentially a muddy field. As with any simulator there’s a degree of learning to be had. The first time you jump in you probably won’t be able to do much good. This was definitely the case for me with FIM. Almost all of my time was spent trying to futilely control the situation and very little actually getting anywhere.
Most of it was definitely my own fault but FIM does very little to help you or tech you how to actually play the game well. It makes for an incredibly inaccessible atmosphere without what is basically ‘playpen mode’ for me to mess around in and learn the ropes. There’s not much in the way of tutorials either but then there isn’t much to actually learn, it’s more a case of finesse and practice. Again, this is the norm when it comes to simulators which are notoriously inaccessible as a genre.
To me FIM spends too much time creating realistic physics and handling and not enough on making an enjoyable experience. It’s definitely not something you can expect to get in and play for a bit of racing fun. You will crash, you will fall and you will fail. If you’re willing to put the time and effort in it can be satisfying but in all honesty even after quite a long time I wasn’t all that productive. Others will be better and being a bike enthusiast may help but FIM isn’t for the casual.
The rewards from something realistic and detailed though are cool features like the way the track moulds and changes during races. Every few rounds it will be flattened and you can start again but between then every tire leaves an imprint. It’s a surprisingly advanced detail and FIM does an amazing job of showing off it’s attention to detail with this party trick. More impressive still is the way it alters the actual racing. Different ground means different grip and it’s up to you to customize your bike for the best performance.
In fact overall detail is stunning throughout. Bikes and riders, track surfaces and barriers all look top notch and well worthy of racing games with much bigger budgets and scopes that this one. It’s a bit of a shame it isn’t more accessible so FIM could make a real name for itself but there are going to be only few people prepared to spend enough time to get the bikes to actually work and notice all the loving detail that has been added.
Customization is deep enough that it makes a good difference to the abilities of a bike but it’s very difficult to see in what way a bike is effected unless you know a lot about the technicalities of Motocross. Once again there isn’t much help and if you don’t know what a certain part would do to a bike then there’s very little options for you to find out. It’s another way that FIM makes itself appeal only to Motocross fans which does itself an injustice.
I was surprised by FIM in all the ways I didn’t expect to be. Rather than a simple, almost arcade, Motocross game with impossible stunts and little difficulty I was greeted by a reasonably complex simulator with a top notch attention to detail that had me initially barely able to even get the bikes round the track. Given some time and more than a few moments of stress it is possible to get good.
A broader topic may have been desirable given how specific FIM is to Motocross fans there are a whole load of people who just won’t be interested or understand the intricacies of the sport. This could have been mitigated with a hand holding tutorial or a ‘dunce mode’ that allows anyone to play but FIM is not there to help or be a friend. The way the track morphs after races is one of the coolest details I’ve seen in a while and the entire presentation of FIM is amazing. A good racer and simulator that cuts itself off by appealing to a small audience, but well worth a go if it’s something your interested in.