MotoGP like most traditional racing games has a yearly development cycle. As a series, it hasn’t managed to evolve its base gameplay much but this year is rather promising in this regard since the developers have made the switch to a brand new engine in the form of Unreal Engine 4. Considering MotoGP 18 is being touted as the much-needed reboot for the series, is there any legitimacy to the claims made by the developers?
While we have seen plenty of great car racing simulators, this doesn’t seem to ring true for the motorcycle racing genre and taking it to a professional level, the Grand Prix motorcycle racing suffers from a lack of competition giving the MotoGP series a clean slate in the market. The annual release cycle is another factor that makes it harder for the developers to make much more meaningful changes for the game considering the short development time between each iteration.
Before the release of this year’s entry, the developers of MotoGP 18, Milestone were making some big claims about the improvements that were included in this update. The biggest improvement that I can safely say applies to MotoGP 18 is that the jump to Unreal Engine has now resulted in better visuals for the game. However, this is not the only change that the engine brings along with it, and the physics are also touched upon making them appear more realistic during races. These are all minor details that might not do much when looked at individually, but together they help make the experience better than its predecessors.
MotoGP used to look flat and hardly current generation release but this is thankfully a thing of the past now. While the game can’t really compete with some of the top-end racing games, it still looks decent. The design of the bikes is much more realistic now and they are modeled after their real-world counterparts. The tracks are also carefully designed around the locations that they are based on and the improved visual fidelity helps in making them feel much more immersive.
The biggest change to the gameplay that is immediately noticeable is that the game is now much more beginner friendly. You will start off with a set of tutorials that can teach you everything, from the beginner to the pro gameplay mechanics. It seems to fit with the new approach taken by the developer that is intended to bring a lot more new audience to the series. It also works rather great, and as someone whose first experience with MotoGP is from this game, it helped me better understand the complexity of the system.
Bikes are something that is essential to the core of a game like MotoGP and it was nice to see how each bike handled differently. You can also tweak and customize the bikes with a set of options that fits your particular specifications. It is not something that I gave much thought since I was happy with the default bikes, however, it was good to know that at least the developers have given the option for it because it helps to add more variety to the content.
As it is the case with any racing game, each track will offer you its own set of challenges. Mastering every turn and learning to control your bike making sure it stays its course is essential if you want to survive in each race. The AI is pretty bare-bones as far as I can tell but the challenge comes from the track itself. There is also the option to settle on a higher difficulty setting and it can make the AI play more competitively. The new physics engine helps provide a much-needed realism for the controls and maneuverability of the bike itself and the addition of small changes like rain causing the surface of the track to react differently will keep you guessing every turn.
As good as the bikes can look, it is the rider itself that feels like a cardboard cutout at most. They are an empty shallow shell of humans that just sit on the bike and lack any kind of personality. Their customization option is also pretty limited. The addition of cinematics to the story mode is nice to have and each opening Grand Prix has a live-action video going behind the scenes for that track and its location.
The jump to the new engine also seems to have resulted in long load times for every track and the game in general. Perhaps it can be boiled down to the developers still coming to terms with the engine, but it is still an annoying aspect of the game especially when you are quickly jumping between the various available gameplay modes. The career and Grand Prix modes are straightforward but aside from them, you can also test your hands at the Time Trial or Championship mode. The game offers online multiplayer but its implementation is rather spotty and I honestly rarely had a good experience with it.
MotoGP 18 also comes with its own photo mode and while it is not as deep as some other games that I have played recently, it can get the job done letting you take some gorgeous screenshots for your races. It is a good tool to have and I consider it essential for any racing game now. It can also be used to appreciate the details that are present on each bike and a testament to the work done by the developers on them.
MotoGP 18 Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Become the star of the 2018 MotoGP™! Compete as a professional rider and race against all the champions of the MotoGP™ on 19 official tracks. Enjoy an even more immersive gaming experience thanks to the new features introduced in the game.
This is a good first step for the series which is in the dire need of a reboot, but it still manages to falter with its essential gameplay mechanics and lacks in a presentation that is easy to see if you have played a lot of racing games. Nonetheless, this is still a fun racing game that should satisfy the fans of the series, but it is hard not to express disappointment over the potential even when the shift to Unreal Engine is a big one.