It’s not quite as popular as Formula One but the Superbike World Championship still has an avid fanbase that, year after year, patiently waits for the latest
Produced by Italian firm Black Bean and now published in the UK by Ubisoft, the series marks this year’s Superbike season with SBK World Championship 2011, the latest and most advanced iteration of the franchise to date.
Further raising the bar after 2010’s SBK X, this racing simulator replicates all the thrills of the popular sport. Players can ride licensed vehicles from nine of the world’s leading manufacturers, both as and against the real stars of the superbike circuit.
Developer Milestone Interactive has gone to great pains to make sure the game is as authentic as possible, building on the technology used in previous games to ensure 2011 is the most realistic SBK yet (see ‘The Tech of SBK’).
Fans will want to start with the career mode, in which they work their way up from a minor Superstock 1000 team to the prestigious SBK World Championship.
The career mode allows players to manage everything a team has to deal with, from contracts and sponsorships to securing victory on the track. Performing well unlocks upgrades for their bike.
Elsewhere, the SBK Tour mode sends fans around the world to tackle a series of challenges against the riders currently in the tournament, while the Legendary Roster allows players to take on the greatest superbike icons of all time.
That’s not to say the game is inaccessible to anyone but an SBK aficionado. SBK 2011 features a series of difficulty levels – Low Sim, High Sim and Medium – that lets rookies and more general racing fans of any skill level enjoy the challenges on offer.
There’s even a fun Photo Mode that lets gamers capture moments from their best performances (or most hilarious crashes), which can then be shared with friends through the game’s official website.
The tech of SBK
Milestone’s enhanced custom animation tool means that the riders are much more realistic than in past titles. Far from looking like strategically positioned Action Man figures, they are brought to life by more than 100 animations, with the game displaying every movement they make – both on and off the bike.
The asphalt beneath players’ wheels is more than just a texture file – thanks to SBK’s Evolving Track technology, it’s a bona fide surface that changes with the conditions of the race. On a dry day, the track starts to build up skid marks where racers brake and accelerate. But on a wet track, the trajectories carved out by the bikes will begin to dry.