A year is a relatively small time in gaming, especially when you consider the fact that most games take multiple years to develop. When it comes to racing however, a year tends to be just enough to see the rosters and team line-ups change, forcing developers to come up with something new and exciting. Now for many, motocross may not seem like something that needs an entirely new entry as recent years have seen the MXGP series bring out some stunning entries; MXGP Pro really raises the bar, whilst Monster Energy Supercross 2 has plenty to admire. Milestone didn’t quite get that memo though and in typical Milestone fashion, here we are once more, glaring into the mud-covered grooves of the finest bikes in Motocross. Here is MXGP 2019.
Now I’m going to say this early on. Before I sat down with MXGP 2019, I thought it may just be a bit of a bad idea. Sure, the yearly release excites some, but for many, having incremental improvements isn’t really worth justifying dropping another wad of cash on an entirely new title. Then you have to factor in what is actually in need of improvement, as a quick look at last year’s simulation entry, MXGP Pro, is enough to show you that the guys at Milestone have already pushed on to near perfection in the series already. Besides a few unjust collisions and a small issue with multiplayer, there was little more players could have really asked for.
Nevertheless, this year’s entry is here and with the title change now incorporating the year, we can only assume that MXGP will be continuing in this fashion for the foreseeable future. That said, we would have probably been better off with a break, as Milestone seem to have taken a good chunk of the progressive switch to simulation we had before and switched it all back to basics. The series feels like it’s suffered as a result.
From the menu, things feel generally rather familiar. You have a few options to choose from, with Season mode, Quick Modes, Playground, Track Editor, Xbox Live and Customise all available. Season mode is the go-to play for career fanatics and is indeed where I started my journey to champion status. However if you’re looking for anything in-depth or overly engaging in this year’s career mode, then prepare to be disappointed.
Starting off, you begin the career by first choosing whether to sign for an established and professional team or creating your own team instead. Neither are permanent options and should you wish to, you can change your mind part-way through the season. From this point on however, things generally follow the same old route as you try to establish placement in the junior MXGP2 category before progressing onwards to the senior MXGP class; the goal being to become the MXGP Champion by the end of the season. It’s pretty basic stuff, and it is severely lacking any real depth or excitement beyond challenging for the title. With many other MXGP titles already offering that exact experience, and MXGP Pro going further still, it only feels like a step in the wrong direction with MXGP 2019.
Another change is the actual feel of it all. Last year players were welcomed to the rather enticing simulation side of things. The simplistic and basic handling models were replaced with something more in-tune for what is essentially a rather niche and hardcore fan base, and whilst some found it more challenging, it certainly raised the stakes and kept things interesting. This year though the more basic handling is back and even though you can raise the A.I. difficulty to keep things competitive, it makes a real difference heading back to mechanics that don’t quite punish the player for making mistakes. It doesn’t feel as realistic as previous either, which is a real loss.
If you look away from the basic feel of the handling, and the rather lacklustre Season mode offering though, MXGP 2019 gets better. Visually it’s stunning once more and whilst it may have dropped quality in other areas, the visual style is on point from start to finish. Various tracks now feel more vibrant and colourful than before, whilst finer details such as mud tracks and tire impressions remain highly impressive as bikes tear through the corners and over jumps. It must be said though, the dirt flicker onto the goggles of the helmet cam option during each race does feel slightly unrealistic with dirt sticking to the same areas.
In terms of the remaining game modes and once more the familiar faces return rather than seeing a a bold step into the unknown. Quick modes see players able to choose from Grand Prix, Time Attack or Championship modes, whilst Playground lets us get to grips with the feel of the bikes with no strings attached.
Xbox Live is also pretty self-explanatory, with both Quick Match and Private Match options. However unless you’ve learnt the available tracks inside out priot to going online then chances are you’ll fail to compete; it seems the players you’ll find here are of the hardcore variety and those who know each track in detail are sure to dominate. Of course, if you have the time spare then you could well find yourself in that crowd.
Thankfully MXGP 2019 on Xbox One deals with a ton of customisation and with a full track editor that seems to bring the same level of track creation as other recent titles, there is certainly enough to ensure players don’t feel too bored too quickly. Those wanting to ensure their bike feels unique can do so too as the customisation options available do a great job of giving the tools to create something that looks and feels your own. In fact, you can change a ton of things; models, components, graphics and paint on the bike, whilst numerous options are also available for rider customisation.
Should you be into Motocross, want to keep your game up to date with the latest riders and teams and don’t mind a more basic arcade feel to that which has gone before it, then MXGP 2019 is likely a game you’re going to enjoy. If you found MXGP Pro to be the change the series needed however, then you will be disappointed. All in all though, bike fans don’t have a ton of things to complain about, and with fantastic visuals and capable – albeit simplistic – game modes on offer, there is still some fun to be had with MXGP 2019.