If you’re a battle-tested veteran of Milestone’s annual MotoGP series, odds are pretty good that MotoGP 22 is more-or-less exactly what you are expecting it to be – for better and for worse. Being many entries deep in the series myself, I have become accustomed to the lack of surprises and marginal improvements the series is currently known for. That aside, the dependable handful of legacy modes and a few neat ideas with cautious tweaks around the edges do feel like just enough to make MotoGP 22 a ride worth taking for current series fans – even if its conservative approach to expanding upon the series formula is starting to wear thin.
MotoGP 22 is not without some additions. Of them there are resurfaced tracks, a more refined suspension system, and more realistic tire deformation which all do ultimately make the experience more realistic, but the sum of all these additions is subtle at best and might not even be noticed by some players. Tinkering with different parts and stylistic tweaks does give you that sense of control over your ride that you want, but it’s a far cry from being any sort of a response to the unprecedented depth of last year’s RiMS Racing. Still, we do see all of the official tracks from the 2022 MotoGP season.
"The dependable handful of legacy modes and a few neat ideas with cautious tweaks around the edges do feel like just enough to make MotoGP 22 a ride worth taking for current series fans – even if its conservative approach to expanding upon the series formula is starting to wear thin."
From the ridiculously sharp turns in the Mandalika circuit in Indonesia, to Phillip Island in Australia, you won’t be left wanting in terms of simulating a real MotoGP season. The game also includes a new list of 70 historic riders and the 2009 season mode to mess around with for those looking for a bit of a nostalgia trip. The 2009 mode is particularly well-thought out with lots of genuine archive footage presented in a neat documentary style that leads into various events. Of course, you don’t really see faces during races so the legendary characters don’t add too much, but still recreating legendary moments in MotoGP history is a cool idea that hopefully sticks around as a new mainstay for the series. Same goes for the split-screen 2-player, which, while appreciated, is still a rather obvious and overdue feature. But, credit where it’s due.
Real-time racing gameplay is predictably in-line with what series fans should expect overall. The challenge of managing your turn curvature and acceleration while weaving your way to the front is as punishing as ever, rarely missing an opportunity to make you pay dearly for minor mistakes. In particular failing to wrangle the momentum of your bike to perform a perfect turn is still as costly as it is laborious. Having a turn completely ruined due to some microscopic oversight despite meticulously handling your brake zone and distance is still fair but heartbreaking.
The many control and braking options at your disposal can certainly take the edge off of that, but using them often feels more like altering the game to make it feel fairer, rather than having fun experimenting with different styles. So, people who need those options will likely spend more time messing with them than they want to, while series veterans who don’t need them, basically have no reason to even look at them. The AI of the opponents seems oddly more aggressive than last year perhaps, as I had multiple occasions of racers ramming me with the determination of a feral mountain goat right off the track across several different modes, forcing me to break my rule about ignoring the rewind feature more times than I care to admit, which was a bit frustrating at times. And was compounded by the game pointing me in the exact wrong direction after being reset from crashes. Either way, I suspect the rewind feature is going to get more use from most players this time around.
"Real-time racing gameplay is predictably in-line with what series fans should expect overall. The challenge of managing your turn curvature and acceleration while weaving your way to the front is as punishing as ever, rarely missing an opportunity to make you pay dearly for minor mistakes."
The game seems to have improved its visuals from last year’s version by perhaps a hair more than it did over MotoGP 20. Colors seem to pop better and the grass that garnishes the sides of tracks seems a tad lusher, even when zooming past it. Perhaps this could be attributed to better implementation of HDR, improved lighting, or the assets themselves, but either way the general look of the game feels a little livelier than I remember last year’s being. Bikes and their parts are also polished to an absolute sheen in this entry, which at times makes the game nearly photorealistic on the PS5. But on the flipside of that, persistently mediocre weather effects, limited time-of-day options for the races, and stiff facial animations do continue to hold the overall presentation back a few notches from excellence – the latter of which is a particular shame because the character’s faces do look markedly more detailed than they did in 2021. New levels of facial detail can only go so far when they hardly show any sort of expression.
The game’s sound feels largely unchanged. While the sound effects generally get the job done in these games, the bikes still do come off a bit tinny for my taste. I know these aren’t cruisers but some of them just sound more like electric toothbrushes than motorcycles. On top of that, what little music is in the game is about as forgettable as it’s ever been. I can’t remember a single tune. Great music is not necessary for a bike sim to work, but it’s yet another opportunity missed to breathe a little more vitality into the series.
One thing that the series does seem to be making noticeable efforts in is its tutorials. Despite this being a notoriously simulation-focused experience aimed at only the most technically minded racers, the tutorial in MotoGP 22 is the most robust of recent memory. On top of that is the MotoGP academy- an even more in-depth on-ramp for those looking for one. Basically, every major facet of the game is isolated and explored between these two features, from the simple to the advanced. While it seems like a bit of a head scratcher for the team to expand more in this area than it does almost anywhere else, the effort is noticeable here, and it may very well ease new players in as intended – especially when combined with the return of an adaptive difficulty system which gives you several race and control modifiers that give you a lot of say over what the game expects of you.
"One thing that the series does seem to be making noticeable efforts in is its tutorials. Despite this being a notoriously simulation-focused experience aimed at only the most technically minded racers, the tutorial in MotoGP 22 is the most robust of recent memory."
Overall, I am pleased with the tweaks that are here, as well as the nostalgia-laden historic characters and 2009 stuff, but as usual, despite notable effort to make new players feel welcome, MotoGP still doesn’t quite cross over into being highly recommendable to anyone outside of the current fandom. That said, the safety of sticking to the format as well as it does continue to keep it from making very many actual missteps, and will likely make its few bells and whistles seem even more enticing to series veterans. A starving player will always appreciate the smallest of treats though, and it’s a bit of a shame that this series continues to leave so many stones unturned in the face of growing competition.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Better tutorials; Historic elements; Slight improvements in most areas.
Lifeless character models; Generic soundtrack; AI oddities; Improvements are conservative at best.