If you’re a fan of bikes, racing and all things fast, as well as occasionally picking up a controller and having a blast, then chances are you will slowly have started to build up a sizeable library of enticing bike racers. If you thought you were done though, think again, as after a quiet start to the year, Milestone are back and that can only mean one thing – it’s time for the hustle and bustle of MotoGP 19.
If you were to look back to this time last year, you’d find me getting rather giddy as MotoGP 18 had just arrived, and I was putting some of the world’s finest bikes through their paces around some of the most incredibly detailed tracks you’ve ever seen. Take things back to present day however and I’m doing the very same thing once more, yet somehow, with even better detail.
Now I have to be honest here, if you were to look at MotoGP 18 next to MotoGP 19, there isn’t a massive amount that has changed, at least not in terms of where you’ll be spending most of your time. Career is very much the same as usual, and after choosing whether you want to race on essentially professional difficulty or as a casual racer, you’ll create a very basic rider – although one that can be customised – built upon pre-rendered faces and assign yourself to one of the few available teams offering you a contract. From there you will be found making your way up through the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, through Moto3 and Moto2 and all the way to MotoGP with the sole aim being to become the World Champion and overall best racer you can possibly be, for both you and your team. Further to that, MotoE makes an appearance too. It is worth noting that unlike MotoGP 18, this year’s title does make it possible to start straight at the top, but then doing that misses out on all the fun of racing with the different types of bikes.
The other modes available include Grand Prix, Championship and Time Trial and these are generally exactly the same as what you’ll find in not only every other iteration of MotoGP, but also every other racing game on the planet.
There is one new and notable option though – Historical Challenges. Here players jump into one of four categories including 500CC Heroes, Great Rivalries, The Dawn of MotoGP and The Modern Era, before piling into some classic challenges such as Valentino’s Best Lap in Australia in which players relive that iconic moment of 2003 in which VR46 beat his own lap time 4 times to set an unbeatable record on the Phillip Island track. There is also a rather special 2013 moment in which Marc Marquez beat the record of Freddie Spencer in Austin, amongst the many others available.
Elsewhere players can get stuck into Multiplayer with online lobbies or Public Races, Private Races or Race Director in which they can become a race director and watch over a race whilst imposing penalties for rule-breaking and manage the flow of the race.
Finally, we have the MotoGP eSport Championship. This is an area that isn’t currently active, however should you wish to sign up to take on the world championships there is indeed a link to follow, and for those that do get involved, it’s nice to see Milestone sticking with it for a third successive year.
Another enticing option on the main menu is the Graphics Editor and after a brief message asking players to respect the decency of other players with their creations, it is possible to get stuck in with creating and sharing decals for Helmets, Bike Numbers or Rider Stickers. I’m shocked to say that this is an area I could easily spend 100’s of hours in thanks to a near Forza level editing tool.
Gameplay wise and MotoGP 19 is certainly being aimed at the simulation fans again this time around, with things such as tyre temperatures making a difference and the slightest bump in the track capable of taking you off your bike and flying into the gravel; there is certainly an element of finesse about racing in this year’s entry. Of course, if you are not after a fully simulated experience then you can set the difficulty and driving aids to your liking however for me, driving in the fully manual/simulated style that is available should you turn all aids off is certainly something that feels incredible, with each bike responsive to the slightest input and racing feeling truly gritty and daring. In fact, the sense of speed found when screaming down a long straight with manual settings feels comparable to that of Kylotonn Racing’s TT Isle of Man: Ride On The Edge, a game that has been my go to for realistic racing since it arrived.
Another engaging and enjoyable aspect of the gameplay is the option to go through each stage of a race-day weekend in real time should you so wish. Of course, this is often an option with racing games these days, but in MotoGP 19 on Xbox One the option is the default, with those not wanting it able to fast forward time from the garage. It’s a small feature but it’s one that makes the world of difference when it comes to creating an engaging and realistic experience of such a beloved real-world sport.
Making the experience even better still is the fact that no matter which bike you take to the track, every single one manages to have a unique feel and control to it. Whilst the changes aren’t huge on assisted settings, those playing on manual – again something for the simulation players here – will truly feel the difference, with the option to dive into tweaking the handling and management of your bike. There is so much to experience should you want to truly feel in-tune with a particular bike.
Finally, and we must get on to the visual side of things and with Unreal Engine 4 powering things, I don’t think it is possible for a MotoGP game to look any better. From the moment you first see your bike on the track, there is very little that doesn’t emanate the pure realism and beauty you’d expect from a MotoGP experience. Very little except for one thing – the lack of attention to detail within the pit crew and stadiums spectators. Sure, neither are ever going to be game breaking, but immersion breaking they definitely are, especially when you can see the drips of water trickling down your bike in the rain, only to find a lifeless pit crew welcome you mid-race and the flags in the crowd always running with the same motion.
At the end of the day though, if you’re a fan of MotoGP, bikes, or racing, then there is no reason to avoid delving into MotoGP 19. Sure it’s much the same as last year’s entry, but with such fantastic visuals – track side at least – and perfected racing, there is plenty to enjoy from the first moment to the last. Should you turn off all assists and head to the simulation side of things, then you may well find one of the best racing experiences full stop.