Two wheeled racing fans rejoice as PQube and Milestone launch MotoGP 13 onto the blazing tarmac. Pure racing, a new helmet cam and both fully fledged offline and online experiences await those who live to ride, but prefer to do so in a videogame where you can’t actually scrape your elbows off.
Featuring all the riders, teams and tracks from the 2013 MotoGP as well as both the Moto 2 and Moto 3 World Championships, there’s certainly something for the true fans to appreciate. Some of the slightly lesser known racers are featured more heavily on load screens and the like, hopefully removing the incessant need to yawningly mash the pad to play as Valentino Rossi again.
The career mode has it’s ups and downs, starting with promise, you get a few promising (in game) emails regarding your prosperity and how to take it easy etc, but that’s essentially where the charm starts and ends. After that, it’s race, read an email, look at the calendar and race. Repeat ad nauseam. Your manager will occasionally chip in with goals and side objectives to aim for, yet simply trying your best to win each race, whether you succeed or not, will often be more than enough to keep the higher ups delighted with your progress. Aside from pure racing, there’s not a huge amount of incentive to remain in the career mode, especially considering the new XP system used to unlock things, can be earned through any mode. All the joys of racing can be found in the less intrusive, other game modes.
Other than the disappointingly bland career mode, if you just, and should, fancy a Grand Prix or two, that’s also catered for. Setting up a race weekend with different variables is easy; should you wish to delve into the more serious side of things, tinkering with your bike’s setup during a practice/qualifying session, much akin to the recent F1 games, is also available. How about changing the weather conditions to a more dynamic setting, granting the possibility of rain, potentially drastically altering the race? Check. You can also modify the race lengths to your choosing, whether it be a quick five laps around your favourite track, or a brutal full racing weekend with all the trimmings round Laguna Seca.
If you’ve never been on a motorbike racing simulator before, despite how many hundreds of hours you may have put into Gran Turismo across the years, prepare to learn it all over again. Slowly. Not only is there no real tutorial for how to navigate around those dreaded bendy corners, but there is also a handling model for the novice players, which essentially teaches you nothing; does little in the way of preparation for the inevitable jump to simulator mode. On one setting, you can thrash your bike around corners with a complete disregard to anything, including the brakes. Whilst on the other, you’ll fly off at the drop of a hat, the rear wheel will spin uncontrollably, struggling for traction all whilst you’re leaning from side to side like a 150 mph Weeble. I would have preferred it, had the game shipped with only the more serious handling settings, yet also housed a tutorial explaining how to properly control the behemoths.
Without many options for split screen play, no career jump-in this time around, it’s up to the online modes to hold your competitive interest. Like any other online game, it swings by the thread of it’s community; for the vast majority of my time online, I played against some genuinely good competition who took the racing lines, got out of each others way and responded amicably. The other side was not so pretty, people riding the wrong way around the track and consciously attempting collisions was also present. Thankfully, the lag was minimal, the framerate smooth and the ne’er-do-wells infrequent.
Having never reached the upper echelon for graphics, expect nothing different this time around. The presentation is there, pre-race intro videos submerge you in a broadcast style similar to that of the television coverage; Gavin Emmett does a great job with the commentary.Some of the little touches are fantastic such as the persistent rubber on the track, lending itself to higher grip at points, and once the brutal higher tiered physics are enabled, you’ll need all the grip you can get. It’s a shame to say that the load times are a little on the long side, the fidelity is low and some of the lower tiered bikes expel such a monotonous drone when at top speed that it starts to grate pretty quickly.
Overall, MotoGP has seen many changes in both developers and it’s style. This time around, it seems to have settled on a user defined hybrid of either arcade or simulation. The simulation side is vastly more rewarding if you’re prepared to put the time and effort in, whereas the arcade style isn’t really arcade-y enough to entice the less hardcore crowd in. A decent tutorial, a more immersive career mode and a quick spruce up of the visuals and audio would change this game from an underlying success to one of the better racers of the genre.
Reviewed on PS3, also available on Xbox 360, PC and PS Vita.