The Moto GP series has had some highs and lows under the stewardship of Italian developers Milestone, who are one of the most prolific studios out there. Where does Moto GP fit into the mix?
Last year’s manager mode has unsurprisingly been thrown completely out of the window, replaced by a more detailed career mode that ruthlessly steals all of its ideas from the Codemasters F1 games. You can develop your car, thanks to taking part in a number of free practice tests.
You’ll get emails from a team manager, team objectives to meet, and the option to sign new contracts once objectives have been met or surpassed. There’s no new thinking here, but the concept works just as well on two wheels as four.
On track, there are very few differences between this year’s game and last few games in the series. In career, you’ll start with the Red Bull Rookie championship, which features the slowest bikes (and most awful sounding) of all, and helps to act as a sort of tutorial into the game with a shorter 7-race championship. There is an actual tutorial this year as well, although it’s not the best for really new players, acting more as a reminder of the controls for returning players, and an opportunity to see what difficulty settings are right for your skill level.
Last year, I said it was clear that this is a transitional release, but unfortunately it feels like almost nothing has changed my opinions. Clearly work has gone into the graphics, but there is still little to no effort gone into some of the historical issues which the game has suffered from. The AI are robotic and unresponsive. You never see them make a mistake, or act like an actual human. There are no penalties for instigating a crash, and the AI will never try to get out of your way.
The general atmosphere around the tracks is very poor, and the continued lack of broadcast-quality highlights, replays and build-up is becoming ever-more apparent.
As ever, there are plenty of control options, but the game will practically play itself when all of the aids are on, and you will barely break a sweat until all of the simulation aspects are turned on. All 19 official tracks are in the game, along with all the riders from Moto 3 up to Moto GP, but there’s no new compelling feature or service to add in a “wow” factor.
MotoGP 18 offers a full online experience, but it seems like the games are getting less popular as time goes on. Whether that’s series fatigue, declining quality or declining interest in the series itself, it’s hard to tell. But I found that there were very few games available to play with more than 2 or 3 other humans at any one time.
Also, compared to last year, the matchmaking has become even worse – it’s slow and also had a habit of putting me into games that were in progress. Spectating is dull and also suffers from horrendous lag, even with the AI players.
The game engine has moved to Unreal 4, and the general fidelity of the presentation is the one area which sees a clear improvement. Especially on Xbox One X, where the game runs in a crisp 4K at a smooth 60fps, Moto GP looks pretty good when stationary. In motion, you can see that the crowd animation is appalling, and there’s not much going on with the side of the tracks or pitlanes. All of which is a shame when the bikes and tracks themselves look pretty good, and there are neat effects like heat hazes from exhausts amongst others.
Apparently, all of the engine noises have been reworked this year, and whilst there’s more variation between the classes of bikes, I still don’t get much of a race-day, televised impression of a MotoGP race from the game. Meanwhile, there’s still no broadcast quality intros, commentary or pit-updates, all of which contribute to the decidedly budget presentation.
‘MotoGP 18‘ doesn’t move the series on very far from last year’s game, despite that being somewhat of a low point in terms of updates. Sure, the game looks much better, but still feels decidedly un-atmospheric and lacks the kind of broadcast quality presentation that other sports (and even other racing) games enjoy. The career mode at least now copies most of the elements that Codemasters bring to their F1 games, even though it feels a bit like a certain “je ne sais pas“ is missing in the translation. Combined with some glitched achievements and poor matchmaking, and you end up with the feeling that maybe next year is finally the year the team will be able to nail everything together now the donkey work has been done in moving engines?
But as it stands, Moto GP 18 is a steady but unspectacular addition to the genre.