In a world where games such as Gran Turismo, GRID, Forza, and Need for Speed have essentially become household names for those who enjoy racing games, be they simulation based or insane arcade fun, it’s always refreshing to see lesser known games although they’re fairly legendary and pre-date most of the former, make their way back into the spotlight and actually reel in some serious attention.
While car games mostly dominate the genre of racing games and motorbikes tend to play on the sidelines of being an optional vehicle stumbled across within the game’s vehicle selection menu, developers at Milestone S.r.l. however have decided to flip things the other way with MotoGP 2014.
For a good number of the most recent years, we’ve had to satisfy our needs for adrenaline-fueled, motor popping gas tanks with racing games that follow of the tagline of Batman and Robin. To quote Chris O’Donnell from 1997’s caped crusader sidekick equality “It’s Batman and Robin, not Robin and Batman, and I’m sick of it!” MotoGP 2014 stands out as a game that seeks to rectify this for all the bike racing wonders of the gaming world, and rightfully so it does.
So how exactly do two-wheels instead of four hold up in this day and age? Frankly it’s been far too long since we’ve seen a good two wheeler that actually approached the genre of simulation racing, if any at all. As fun as Motorstorm Apocalypse is, MotoGP proves that race lines and flat surfaces can be just as heart-wrenching and nerve worrying as those that crumble before your feet and lift you over death-tumbling buildings.
MotoGP 2014 incorporates a fair number of gameplay modes most of which are no stranger to any other racing game. These include an instant race mode, grand prix, championship mode, MotoGP career, time attack, split-screen local multiplayer,online multiplayer and a safety car mode.
While the majority of these are fairly self-explanatory the modes to take note of here would be real events and challenge the champions. Real events use a mixture of real and fictional races that the player is able to experience for themselves, change the outcome, and live the event through the eyes of the selected rider.
Challenge the champions on the other hand does something fairly similar while placing a set of objectives for the player to complete, all of which are unlocked as you play through the other modes within the game. Although the main bulk of the game is played through MotoGP career which uses the player’s custom rider as their progression tool. I found the championship mode of the game to have more interest.
Using riders and tracks from past MotoGP games there’s alot of content thrown in to make up the game, the majority of which are unlockable riders which are gradually unlocked the more you play the game. There’s a reason to play here and more so than in the game’s career mode.
But that’s not to say the career mode takes a hit of any sort, as the basis of immersion and progression which is essential for any racing game is largely a requirement should it seek to be considered worthwhile. Keeping true to authenticity and realism, the game uses a physics system based on the rider’s behaviour when riding the bike.
MotoGP enthusiasts will know these as Balanced, Body Out, Old School, Elbows to the Ground, and Shoulders Out. Each of these riding styles have an instant and different effect on how you ride your bike, and players will have to play with each one to find their own unique style and which one works best with them.
It’s not as simple as automatic and manual, no car pun intended but MotoGP 2014 has everything under the hood, when it comes to gears, tuning, and character behaviour. The game also uses a rewind feature that’s more commonly known to the Grid series by Codemasters.
This basically allows you to rewind the game while you’re actually playing up to a certain point in time, should you crash or wish to retake a certain turn from a different angle or strategy. There’s also a level of bike behaviour properties that tie in to the the simulation aspects of the game. These work in combination with the riding aids available in the game all of which can be toggled accordingly.
This is great for training newcomers to the series and will help by gradually increasing their skills and techniques the more they play, until they’re ready to take on the game at it’s ultimate level of realism. It should also be noted that the level of A.I. from your opponents are just as superb and well designed as the other implementations of realism within the game, and can be adjusted too. As said previously MotoGP takes realism quite seriously within the topic of tuning of your rider’s bike and character’s physics.
Bike mechanics can be adjusted before the start of your race and I’m sure fans of the series will tweak till their heart’s content. Mechanics such as handlebar rake and trail can be adjusted, the discs of your front and rear brakes, wheel choices of soft and hard tires, gear adjustments and so on. All displayed through an immersive interface that really succeeds and pulling the player directly into the game.
One thing in particular that serves as an interesting feature to MotoGP is one that isn’t particularly well implemented. The game employs a rider customization system that allows you to choose between male and female.
Without going into the whole debacle of more games should involve female characters, as that seems to be the latest trend within gaming these days, of the fairness and equality of variety in games, I will say this.
The way in which the game gives you female riders isn’t actually something that visually noticeable, and I didn’t see the point nor could I find the reasoning for picking one over the other, when the differentiation between them is a portrait photo of an actual rider, symbolizing your characters.
Physically the two gender models appeared the same and the fact that they wear helmets anyway made the overall idea pointless. Without being said however, the choice of rider gear, colours, and player information was all done fairly well.
Customization ranges from helmet, gloves, boots, and knee pads. Taking it a step further to increase player immersion are the choices of your character’s name and age, rider number, and the choice to represent your own country. So where exactly does the rider fall off amongst all this precious content of enjoyment? Well let’s start with the game’s method of installation.
Coming close to ten years since the launch of Steam, PC gamers were no longer burdened by the need of physical discs in order to play their games. While some developers over that time period opted for the idea of disc based installation while still requiring you to insert the disc in order to play, most of them threw this idea out the window and went for a one time installation via an activation code.
Milestone S.r.l. on the other hand decided to be negatively old school and required that I install the game from it’s disc, while still having me insert it every time I wish to play.
Two things the studio needs to take note of here: A. This is the year 2014, and B. There’s no need to inconvenience the player with noisy DVD-drives when we live in a technological world dictated by mandatory hard drive installations. Adding injury to insult for not taking advantage of modern technology let alone PC hardware are the graphical options given to PC gamers.
Employing a method of incompetence through the use a game launcher, which acts as barrier of entry between me and the actual game is where these lackluster of options reside. With nothing but the basics of V-sync, resolution choice, high quality AFX and high resolution textures, the game falls flat on it’s face with the potential of even giving the impression of something beautiful to look forward too. While v-sync is a must to eliminate screen-tearing the game doesn’t look all that bad, but with that being said it’s clear it should look better than it actually does. Especially for a racing game which by no means is demanding.
One thing in particular, I really have to question though is the developer’s understanding of high resolution textures. There wasn’t one thing within the game that displays gorgeous textures of any sort, and while the bike and character models are quite accurate and look reasonably good, the game isn’t going to turn any heads.
This lack of visual quality also extends into the game’s tracks and environments. Racing tracks look fairly bland, the backgrounds outside the stadiums are non-existent, and the NPCs that make up crowds in the stands may as well be dead. Cardboard cut-outs are not cool.
This is a real shame as it’s gameplay is so damn impressive and gives you plenty to do. Up until now I still await a game that visually exceeds the level of detail and over the top eye candy that Codemasters did so well with GRID 2 and GRID Autosport.
Visual inferiority aside MotoGP 2014 is without a doubt an enjoyable ride that succeeds in delivering great gameplay, immersive entertainment, and unlockable content using the true method of learn as you play progression. MotoGP constantly gives you a reason to play and it feels rewarding. Becoming better the more you play there’s enough gameplay modes to take part in, and more so than I’ve seen from the majority of the car games available.
This game was reviewed on the PC.