MotoGP 13 review: Milestone returns, creates challenging racer

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MotoGP 13

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A great, complex, involving game, that with several changes could have achieved true greatness.

We like

  • The depth of gameplay
  • Authentic atmosphere
  • Very addictive

We dislike

  • Poor presentation at times
  • Not friendly to casual gamers
  • Multiplayer is a mixed bag

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

The MotoGP series is the flagship and, at present, the only currently dedicated motorbike road racing series, so it has a lot riding on it.  Its reputation has improved in recent years, with Capcom having taken the reins, initially transforming it from arcade racer to simulation, and then trying to strike a balance. Milestone, the original development team for the games, has been put back in the development seat for this latest installment. Have they capitalised on past success?

First impressions count, and initially MotoGP's are positive, with a voiceover easing you in by explaining the main menu. An unnecessary detail, but it suggests that a high level of attention has been given to this game. Go into any of the game modes, however, and you'll be slightly disappointed by the attention given to the visuals. Whilst there has been a step up from the budget look of the previous release, MotoGP 13 is still not beautiful to look at, lacking the sheen that you'd expect of a release late in a console generation. Despite this, attention has been paid to the environments, and each track feels appropriately authentic. Yet, those efforts are tarnished slightly by obvious pop-up.

Of course, visuals are merely the surface layer, but as an official title, the game is expected to have an solidly authentic feel. To this end, Gavin Emmett provides commentary before the race, with footage of the virtual track presented in manner that gives the impression of real TV coverage. Despite the game's mediocre visuals, these less important details help to involve players, who will more than likely be familiar with the sport. Further links to the actual MotoGP are due, with roster updates and in-game events based on real races from the season.

The gameplay is undoubtedly the main focus, and has set a precedent for itself in its depth and realism. This version is no less complex or potentially daunting for the newcomer. As such, the numerous riding aids are turned on by default. None of these quite turn the game into an arcade racer, not even 'ideal trajectory', as the you're still more than likely to find yourself on the gravel or in a nasty crash. The game might have benefited from a training mode, and the option for physics suited even more to those who want to focus on racing, rather than focusing on remaining on the track and bike.

The ability to make experience more realistic remains. This doesn't just extend to turning off the assists: it involves turning on flags, which creates the risk of disqualification, turning on tire wear, and turning up the physics, which is the most potentially punishing. With more realistic physics, things that would normally prove simple, such as getting off the starting grid, are a challenge. It is good that Milestone has left these as options to turn on rather than off, or otherwise, less experienced gamers might have traded the game in frustration.

One of the greatest things about the physics is that, unlike most racing games, you'll find yourself affected by the weather and the state of the track. Over a Grand Prix weekend, rubber will be left on the track, allowing greater grip in those areas. It's this precise detail, more than any graphical prowess, that brings a game to the point of simulation.

The artificial intelligence is unforgiving whether the game is played safe or played as if on the track. Despite scaleable difficulty, the novice will find it a challenge to keep up with the AI on Easy, pre-occupied with learning the tracks and handling. All will need to put their full attention on the AI on the Realistic difficulty. The chance of being solid competition against the other racers is hampered even more if you play the races without a Qualification race, which is the default setting. If it is assumed that you attended Qualification but just didn't play it, then it would be expected that your position should be calculated from your previous performance, which is sadly not the case. This punishes players who don't have much time to invest in the game.

This year's iteration retains the great degree of customisation options for your bike. Whilst the adjustments can ... (continued on next page) ----

Lee Millington is one of PSU's staff writers, is based in England, and is studying Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Follow him on Twitter for tweets about video games and his other, sometimes curiously varied, interests.
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  • Related game: MotoGP 13

    Release date (US):
    TBA 2013
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