Once again Milestone are back with their yearly release of the MotoGP series and with the world on hold when it comes to major sporting events at the moment, what better time to release it for the fans of the sport?
Now, I’m not really a huge gamer when it comes to the previous titles, in fact I have stated in previous Motorbike game reviews that I did tend to avoid the genre all together up until recently. The only other titles I have played in the series is MotoGP 17 and the spin-off, Valentino Rossi The Game, both of which I actually did enjoy. The issue I now face is simple.. whilst writing up this review for the latest release, do I try to compare it to titles released a few years ago, or do I approach it as its own standalone title?
The developers boast a revamped career mode, an upgraded physics engine as well as improved AI. Upon loading the game and jumping straight into the action, there certainly has been a vast improvement on all of the above from the last title I played, but that is to be expected in three years rather than the company turfing out the same game over and over.
Career mode is where the game truly shines as you would expect. Skipping straight ahead to actually racing the first thing that is noticeable is the realistic tire wear in the game. A typical race weekend is split up into the 3 practice sessions, 2 qualifying sessions, a pre-race warm up session and finally the race itself. At the start of the weekend you are allocated 3 sets of soft, medium and hard compound tires which have to last. Once you hit the track the tires will wear down with use. Now, in previous titles this was shown with a basic green bar which slowly decreased over time. This year the tires wear in a more realistic way. The harder you corner, the tire will start to wear around the edges and similarly, the harder you spin up tires on corner exits or on straights, the faster the center of the tire will wear down letting you know that your wheels are actually seen as a 3D model rather than a flat to tarmac tire as you would find on a car.
So, within the various sessions during the weekend you can make adjustments to your bike within the garage very easily using a guided method. If your bike is too slow on straights then adjustments can easily be made without you actually having to go into all the technical settings yourself. Believe me, that made life a hell of a lot easier for me as I wouldn’t have a clue how to adjust various settings on a motorbike to help it perform better.
The AI within the game will also punish you if you miss that apex in a corner, and more times than I care to admit I found myself drifting out wide in corners and then bringing myself back in to tightly attack the corner only to find a bike on my inside hitting me and wiping me out. Now this was always an issue I had in the past with Motorbike racing games, it was always too easy to wipe out rather than stay upright, and I think thats why I avoided them for so long. With MotoGP 20 it actually wasn’t an annoyance, it became more of a learning curve to my riding style. It was also proof that the AI weren’t designed to take it easy on track.
For the first couple of races I did struggle to keep pace with the other riders until I looked into the game physics menus as well as the assists menu, and I advise anyone who is new to the franchise to do the same. I had to set it so that braking assists were in place as well as during races having the electronics turned up to max to stop wheel spin and the bikes nose from pulling up into a wheelie and throwing me off the back. There is also a power adjustment setting in the bottom right of the screen (these can be accessed and adjusted with the D-Pad); my first race I hadn’t noticed these, and the game doesn’t explain them at all, and I ended up running out of petrol. The second race I adjusted the amount of petrol in my bike before the race started and still ran out of fuel before the end. The next race I then noticed these small icons and adjusted the PWR one by dropping it down. The idea of that is the same as rich fuel mode in F1 games. The higher it is, the more fuel the bike is burning off to produce a faster machine on track.
When you start your career you can choose from one of the 3 race classes, Moto 3, 2 or GP. I highly suggest working your way up the leader-board if only to get used to the way the game plays. Obviously the bikes in Moto 3 are the least powerful and easiest way to cut your teeth (or, if you hit the back of another rider at speed, scrape the front of your helmet off as you fly head first along the tracks tarmac). Once you join a team you will need to hire 2 engineers which will be responsible for improving the bike over the season as well as a personal agent who will negotiate contracts on your behalf as well as deal with moves to other teams the better you get. He or She will also be able to barter for better pay than the team may first offer if their skill in that area is good enough.
Bike development is split into four areas with the hireable AI specializing in certain areas over others. You will need to go into the menus from your career hub and assign members of staff to research which will bring in a certain amount of points every week which can then be spent on the actual development of upgrades for the bike. It does sound a little tricky, and its not very ‘first time user friendly’ if I’m honest. It was more trail and error to work it all out for me. As the season progresses, you can start to hire and fire the 3 main staff members, but remember that it all costs money with salaries etc and if you’re not meeting team expectations on the track you will soon be fired from the team as well as loosing money. The better your standing with the team, the better your chances are at the end of each season of asking for more money per race, or even using that reputation you have gained on track to sign with a new team for more money.
Now, issues with the game, especially with a new rider like myself was the frequent drop on frame rates or even a total split second freeze and then continuing a few frames further on. On the whole the graphics looked great on my PS Pro and the game does play well, but the frame rate issues always seemed to happen as I was approaching a turn and about to lean my bike over. It caused more offs from the circuit or crashes than I was happy with. I just hoped this is patched on release as I have been playing now for nearly a week before the official release of the game and they have already dropped a couple of patches for the game in that time. When I first got the game before any major patches were released I was wetting myself at one of the glitches that happened every race. When the riders set off to do their parade lap before the start of the race, my rider would ride off to the side of the track, hit a wall and start twitching on the grass. The best thing was that half of the field followed suit and did the same. It is nice to know that developers do work hard on their games to address issues.
There is more to the game as you would expect than just the career mode. Online multiplayer does run smoothly enough, I was lucky enough to find another couple of reviewers who were testing that. Historic mode allows you to take to the track to complete challenges of varying difficulty unlocking new features for the game. You can also customize your rider fully which I thought was brilliant. Obviously you can choose your riders face from the presets which I would have liked to have seen a much more in depth creator as none of the faces looked anything like me; for starters they all had hair! Come on Milestone, I have been described in a magazine article before as a ‘folically challenged punter’. But there is so much more available as well to designing your riders number on the front of your bike to the design that is shown on your backside and also your helmet, and they are very in depth. Once you have designs that you are happy with you can upload them for others to use if they want to as well as using other players creations for yourself. You can probably see that my rider has a customized number in the images used within the review, all taken using the games photo mode.
All in all, MotoGP 20 is a fantastic game, and one that will offer suitable challenges for everyone. It has early issues which I hoping will be fixed in time, but theres honestly not that many that make the game unplayable and we all expect a few teething issues at first. Whatever happened to games having to be released complete and without error? With the amount of content available from the start and chances to unlock more from within the title, then it will keep players busy for some time if only to get that all important platinum trophy which is now mu next goal. 8.5/10 for me, those minor frame rate issues do become annoying at the best of times unfortunately.
Game reviewed on PS Pro
**PLEASE NOTE: AIR Entertainment were supplied with a review copy of the game. This has in no way influenced my views on the game as per our Review Policy**
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