The MotoGP has long associated itself with video games with the first MotoGP launching on PlayStation 2 19 years ago. Milestone S.r.l and Capcom took the license in 2007 with the launch of MotoGP 07 and has since been launching new games almost every year. MotoGP 19 brings it all together to create a great package that any motorbike rider or racing game fan can enjoy. With four different career modes, historical challenges, online multiplayer and much more, there’s plenty to do in this year’s MotoGP game.
From the main menu players can choose Career mode, Quick modes (Grand Prix, Championship or Time Trial), Historical Challenges, Multiplayer, MotoGP eSport Championship (Season 3 has not yet begun) and a new Graphics editor. Beginning a career, players choose from a standard or pro career. Pro careers are only for the most elite riders as all difficulty sliders are set to maximum making for an authentic MotoGP experience. Choosing a standard career allows you to begin easy and work your way to more challenging rewards as you raise the difficulty.
There are four careers to enjoy, starting with the Red Bull Rookies Cup which is a relatively short career compared to the Moto3, Moto2 and of course the MotoGP career which consists of a total of 19 race weekends. Every single real-world MotoGP race is in the game, so working your way through the season with all the official riders and licensed bikes and advertising feels very much like the real thing. At the start of a career you pick a team, however there are opportunities to switch teams throughout the season if you do not like how things are going.
Each Grand Prix weekend has several free play periods, qualifying, a warmup, and then the actual race. You have the option to do them all or just a race, but if you skip the qualifiers then you will pole at the back of the pack. You then create your rider, choosing from a dozen default avatars. There’s no facial customisation and no scan-in Game Face like in EA’s games, however you can fully customise what you’re wearing, particularly your helmet in the new intricate Graphics Editor mode. We chose one of the two female avatars and found that both the text and voice commentary throughout the career was calling her a male, perhaps something Milestone will fix after launch.
Throughout the MotoGP 19 calendar of race weekends you can earn development points to research and develop your engine, frame, TCS, EB and AW. If you’ve got your difficulty sliders low you don’t really need to worry about upgrading your bike throughout the season, however hardcore MotoGP players will find the upgrades to be mandatory. There’s no off-track career mode unlike the latest F1 games where you speak to the press and form rivalries with other racers or teams, so the career mode plays out fairly robotically without much of a sense of team spirit or character building. It’s a fairly standard career simulator, but it also stays very true to the real-world calendar, featuring every single track throughout the 19 race weekends. Other modes allow you to use the Laguna Seca and both a modern and historic version of Catalunya, as well as the stunning Donington Park Circuit in England, meaning this game packs in almost two dozen official race tracks.
Jumping online, we found if you didn’t have upgraded bikes it was quite hard to get on the podium let alone win a race. Unfortunately, we struggled to find servers with low ping, though it didn’t really seem to affect the racing that much. You can join a lobby in the MotoGP 19 multiplayer mode whenever you want and pick up during whatever part of a race weekend the current riders might be in, aside from joining an in-progress race. It was great to be able to jump in to a qualifier, particularly because we could only find at most a few servers at a time. We expect the online community to get busier when the official MotoGP 19 eSports Season 3 begins later in the year.
Historic Challenges mode is where you’ll find all kinds of nostalgic race events. They’re not full Grand Prix events, and in fact usually only involve racing a couple of laps but the difficulty is quite high. Choose from 500CC Heroes, The Dawn of the MotoGP, Great Rivalries, and The Modern Era, this is where you will find all your favourite riders from MotoGP history as well as the ability to unlock not just cosmetic items for your helmet and gear, but also the actual riders such as 2007 Casey Stoner or 2003 Valentino Rossi. There’s a lot of fun to be had in this game mode but earning gold or even a silver medal proved to be quite challenging.
Our biggest gripe with MotoGP 19 was the crash/collision physics. Sure, when you head around a corner and dip too low you fall off but colliding with other bikes had very different results from one incident to another. It was impossible to tell if you were going to crash or if the slight bump would assist you. Every time you did fall off the bike the same thing would occur where the rider goes head over toes over the front of the bike. There wasn’t really any deviating from a typical crash animation, not that you should be aiming to crash. Luckily as with all good racing games MotoGP 19 has a rewind function allowing you to retry corners and overtakes if you do come to grief.
Each year the MotoGP games get that little bit closer to photo realism, and this year we found it hard to spot flaws in the track, bike, and suited up riders. Photo mode allowed us to capture some incredible moments which you could put side by side with real photos and most people wouldn’t even know which one was from MotoGP 19 from a quick glance. That said, the crowds still had very low detail, animations at a minimum, and the flags you see in the stands are hovering above an empty seat. With such attention to detail on every other aspect of the visuals in MotoGP 19, it was a shame that the crowd participation was minimal as well as the pit lanes being completely unutilised. With a bit of luck, the incoming teraflops of Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Project Scarlett as well as the NVIDIA SUPER graphics cards will allow the next generation of racing games to have some realistic crowd behaviour, but for now we wait.
MotoGP 19 is a great package for any motorbike racing fan. While it avoids deviating from circuit track racing, there are more than 20 licensed tracks to perfect your lap times on and plenty of bikes and riders to mix things up. We enjoyed playing through the historic challenges and unlocking some of our favourite champions of the past and having the Moto2 & 3 as well as the Red Bull Rookies Cup helped to bolster the career mode section of the game. With a few tweaks to crash physics and crowd participation the MotoGP franchise will almost certainly continue on its path to racing perfection.
- Lots of different game modes to keep things interesting - Unlocking legends in the historic mode allowed for a lot more gameplay opportunities - Full MotoGP 2019 calendar of events + some additional tracks!
- Collision and crash physics are still too bouncy - Crowd and pit lane participation minimal - Small online community.