Superbike riders train on SBK08

A couple of years ago I went clay pigeon shooting with my dad, I think you call it skeet shooting in the States. Without wishing to blow my own trumpet (and we’ve all tried that eh lads?) I was pretty good. The instructor guy asked me if I had ever done any shooting before because I was surpisingly accurate even though I had never fired a gun in my life. Well, not a real one anyway. I did have Time Crisis on my PS1 with one of those powered guns with the recoil feature. I suggested that this was the reason that I had good hand-eye coordination. My dad grumbled something about bollocks and I never thought about it again.

Now we get this piece of news that the upcoming SBK08, the new bike racing game based on the HANNspree Superbike World Championship, is being used by actual real life riders to train for the new Miller Park Circuit based in Salt Lake City. Copies of the game have been distributed, by publisher Black Bean, to all the major race teams and their respective riders like Troy Bayliss and Carlos Checa.

“The level of detail and accuracy we have achieved in SBK08, both in terms of the track and the bike performance is the closest any of the riders can get to the real thing,” said Antonio Farina of Milestone Srl “perfect for quickly getting up to speed on new tracks like Miller Park”.

Now, no one is suggesting that this kind of simulation training is a replacement for the real thing, but I like the idea that tracks in games are now so close to real that they can be used to learn the various twists and turns as well as more complex things like braking points, and where to turn in and other racing terms that I don’t know about.

As well as confirming (in a very non-scientific way) that my near Olympic standard shooting performance was down to me playing Time Crisis, this has got me thinking of how many other games closely resemble real life, and further, do they enable you to navigate the real place?

Can I nail the Nurburgring in real life like I can in PGR3? Maybe. Does the GTA 4 map resemble New York closely enough that you would feel at home there? Does the All Ghillied Up level in CoD 4 resemble Chernobyl closely enough to find your way around the real city? What about the virtual Los Angleles in True Crime? I doub’t any of these examples would really enable you to navigate around these locations, but it would be interesting to see if you would at least be able to get your bearings from the relative postions of the major landmarks.

Maybe we should be worried about all of this ending up in some kind of Matrix style future where we would all be plugged into to better places than where we live. Until then we’ll have to make do with SBK08, which is scheduled for release on June 20th on Xbox 360, PS2, PC and PSP, and in Q3 2008 on PS3.