SBK 2015 – Review

Title   SBK 2015
Developer  Digital Tales
Publisher  Digital Tales
Platform  iOS, Android (reviewed)
Genre  Racing
Release Date  June 24, 2015

Viewed by many as the coolest things ever to grace our planet – also known as ‘death traps‘ to my mother – motorbikes are an incredible addition to any ensemble if you want to take your perceived image up several notches in one fell swoop.  The motorcycle may have been third on the T-800′s ‘must-have’ list, but his shiny steed was by far the main focus of the artwork when he returned to take care of young John Connor.  They’re sleek, highly manoeuverable, and can be fast as hell.

For those of us who either can’t afford their own motorcycle or who, even in their forties, are still given stern looks by their mother whenever they throw around the idea of buying one, there is another option – SBK 2015 by Digital Tales.  It is touted as being able to bring the “Eni FIM Superbike World Championship onto your touch screens“, and therefore promises some high-octane racing and a chance to rise through the ranks in the process.  In terms of the statistics, this is certainly an accurate representation of what’s on offer.  All of the tracks are there to choose between, and the riders are there with full performance stats, so you can effectively play as whomever you choose, and decide on which tracks to test your mettle.

Sadly, the gameplay itself doesn’t quite capture the essence of their aforementioned promise.  While there’s always a high risk that mobile games may ultimately under-perform due to the diminished power within their devices, there’s still no reason why every effort can’t be made to balance this out in other ways.  The greatest issue here, however, is that there’s no real sense of speed coming from the game engine, so even though your speedo may be reading 170mph, there’s nothing else on-screen to simulate those sorts of speeds.  Everything is very controlled, very deliberate, and is presented almost with a sense of slow motion.

If you have the ‘Auto-Brake’ feature enabled, you’ll immediately drop down to around 50mph while you take most corners, but with the pre-existing lack of implied speed, this honestly feels like you’re taking a corner in second gear. In a Kia.  It shouldn’t be the case, but it is, and no matter what you end up doing in-game there is never a point where any sense of danger makes its presence felt.  You could be flying along at full speed – according to the speedo – and smash into a rider in front of you but, rather than have any sort of adrenaline-fuelled high-impact collision, it simply shows both riders getting to their feet again from the asphalt.

Similarly, a poorly judged real-world corner would invariably result in outright catastrophe during the championships, but in-game it’s represented by your bike and rider gently hitting a wall with as much force as a narcoleptic tortoise nudging an apple with its nose.  Even with the under-powered nature of mobile devices, there’s no reason that this sense of urgency and danger be omitted from a game which should have been risk-centric. It just doesn’t convey speed very well, at any point, and I feel that negates the purpose of the game somewhat.

What Digital Tales have done extremely well, however, is to gauge the wide range of people playing their titles.  At first, SBK 2015 came with a sense of dread when I realised that it was one of those tilt-controlled games, so I persevered until the end of the race and headed straight for the control settings.  To say that the controls are configurable would be an understatement and a gross disservice to Digital Tales.  Every conceivable control set is available to you – from full-tilt control to partial or none, with all sorts of left/right options in between, it’s ridiculously easy to find something to suit your own style of gameplay.  This makes it a simple task to get to grips with the handling, especially if you’ve opted to have the ‘Auto-Brake’ or other drive-assist features enabled.

Another area where Digital Tales have done a great job is with the number of gameplay modes on offer, including Quick Race, Time Attack, Challenge Mode, and full Championship Mode, so it’s very easy to dip in and out of SBK 2015 for a few minutes at a time as well as spend a number of hours grinding away to the top of the leaderboards.  Even the graphics are what I’d say were above-par for a real-time rendered 3D-heavy game on a mobile device, and there were no signs of clipping or dropped frames at any point – even when forcing your way through more than twenty other riders.

What it boils down to is that SBK 2015 is a well-made, and incredibly well-considered game with dynamic lighting, twenty-four different world-class riders, nine separate control sets, and excellent graphics.  The only thing, and I do genuinely mean only thing, that lets it down is that there is no sense of danger or urgency.  The speeds are merely represented by on-screen digits rather than visual impression, and that really isn’t ideal when you’re dealing with some of the fastest bikes in the world.  As an arcade-style game, it’s great, but it falls short of their claim in terms of realism.

  • Fantastic control-set options
  • Impressive graphics
  • Great for quick bursts, or long sessions
  • Plenty of play modes on offer
  • Twenty-four world-class riders to choose from and thirteen global tracks
  • The impression of speed just isn't there
  • The promise of realism never followed through

The SBK 2015 page on the Play store reads "SBK15 was developed in conjunction with Dorna WSBK Organization to ensure an accurate representation of the white-knuckle Superbike racing style and offer the most realistic motorcycle racing experience on mobile." yet the only real thing to let it down is the lack of any white knuckles.

It's well made, doesn't appear to have any bugs, is cheap to remove the ads, and is fully licensed. It just doesn't have any sense of implied speed, and that's ultimately what an SBK game should have as its main focus. If this could be fixed, it would easily jump another one or two points.

Our review policy

Last five articles by Mark R


There are no comments, yet.

Why don’t you be the first? Come on, you know you want to!

Leave a Comment