The 2018 instalment of the much loved MotoGP series has now been released, I took a look at this latest experience. In truth I don’t know much about motorbike racing as a sport, preferring the anarchism of Mario Kart and the like, and my only relevant gaming experience had been last year with MXGP3; a game that left me immensely disappointed. I went in expecting more of the same and I couldn’t have been more wrong.
First thing to note is the gameplay during races themselves. Typically 25 strong, the field is always competitive and the game gives you the ability to construct races at the appropriate level for your ability with the use of a slider which determines the quality of the AI. This was a really welcome addition and a neat way of doing things in comparison to the standard settings system used in other sports titles e.g. FIFA’s Amateur, Semi-Pro, Professional, World Class and Legendary settings. This meant that I was able to get right into the game from the off.
I began with the quickest method of playing the game; taking part in a single race of my choosing in control of a real rider. Once the race began I was first introduced to the ideal racing line system. This system uses coloured arrows in a narrow track which show the perfect location to be to maximise your racing potential. As you accelerate towards the corners the colour will change from blue to yellow to orange to red showing your ability to make it round the corner. This was alien to me at first having only seen anything similar in the few hours I spent playing Formula 1 2007 on PS3. Once I got used to this system it made perfect sense and really added to the dynamism of the gameplay.
Watch the MotoGP 18 gameplay trailer below:
There are times where the ideal racing line for one corner will make it more difficult to get through the next part of the track and it is only through playing a track many times that you get to know all of the twists and turns of the initial 19 stages. For most of the first hour of my racing career I spent more time on my back than on my bike and yet it didn’t become frustrating. The fault lay with me for all of these incidents rather than with the game.
It genuinely is a game where you live or die by your own decisions and skill and, in order to reach the top of the leader boards, you need to know what you’re doing in each and every scenario. It actually put me in mind of classic games from the 8 bit era in the way it makes you work hard to be good, but once you are the game becomes completely immersive and enjoyable. I use that comparison only in terms of the gameplay, not the graphics.
The graphics are stunning throughout. Each rider is individual, each bike is distinct, the scenery is perfectly rendered and the tracks show signs of crashes and harsh braking. If you leave the track momentarily you will find the mud or sand on your rear wheel as you return to the track. The level of detail is staggering, it even goes down to the most minute detail of the exhaust fumes blurring the back of your bike in odd ways when you are revving on the starting grid or raindrops appearing on your view as though you were looking through the visor if the weather turns. The game looks beautiful, realistic and absolutely perfect for its genre. I honestly couldn’t fault the way it looks or sounds.
Gameplay as previously mentioned can be difficult at first. For the first day or so of play I was convinced that the control was too stiff to be effective, however, with use and with a greater understanding of the game mechanics and ultimately of real world physics (I spent time looking at races on YouTube to see how these things generally go) I found that the control was not only intuitive but extraordinarily realistic. The use of the trigger buttons as the primary method of accelerating/decelerating again works well, puts you in mind of being on a bike with each hand controlling a different function and requires so little thought that you become completely caught up in the race itself. That said, I did sometimes find the use of the joystick problematic and ended up in most races turning the controller in my hands in a way I haven’t done since I played TOCA Touring Car Championship to death on the PS1. This is more than likely an issue with my throttle control which helpfully the game points out after each race where it scores your driving ability across the board to allow you to improve.
Once I had a feel for the way that the game works I began a Career. This was where MotoGP 2018 excels itself. Beginning with Red Bull you build a custom rider and take part in a full racing season during and after which you have the ability to transfer to other teams if you perform well enough. Each of these teams will give you a different motorbike but also have different expectations from you which you are expected to attain or else you return to the start. Before each race players are always treated to a montage of footage and photographs from the country hosting the race which is a really nice touch; this allied with the commentary really does add to the pre-race experience. Additionally before beginning you can customise your bike, changing the tyres, steering etc to suit the conditions and the track itself. The whole system works brilliantly and is a welcome addition to a game such as this.
The Career mode has that factor that makes any game like this go from a good game, to a great one. It has the habit of making you repeatedly say to yourself ‘just one more race then I’ll stop’. Before I knew it, it was 3 hours later and I was still saying the same thing. As you improve, so too do your goals and your competitors. This means that difficulty gradually increases in line with your skill. It is a system that works really well and ultimately I think it was this that kept me coming back for more.
View some MotoGP 18 screenshots in our gallery:
There are very few faults in this game, but if I were to pick hairs I would say that the loading times for races are too long. It is not uncommon for you to be shown a short loading screen with the MotoGP logo, then another loading screen which shows race data as the progress bar counts up to 100%, then experience a 10-20 second pause after the game has said loading is complete before it moves on. This is only a minor annoyance but it did have the effect of sometimes dampening the enthusiasm I had for the next race and could, had the racing itself not been so enjoyable, have broken the ‘just one more’ cycle.
MotoGP 2018 is a fantastic game, utterly brilliant in pretty much every category I would hope to judge a game of this type on. The graphics are stunning, the gameplay is fluid, the physics are realistic and it genuinely makes you want to keep playing for as long as you can. Even the slow load screens don’t detract from its replay ability. I would recommend this one to anyone, from hardcore Moto GP fans to casual players. As long as you have patience in the beginning, the experience is both rewarding and enjoyable. I was pleasantly surprised by this one and in truth it has gone right to the top of my favourite real life racing games. Who would have thought it?
MotoGP 18 was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.
Publisher: Milestone Developer: Milestone Release Date: June 7th, 2018 Reviewed On: PS4 Also Available On: PC, Xbox One