After the lacklustre release that was Days Gone, I did not think I would come anywhere near a video game motorbike for a long while. Especially given how it soured the taste of even thinking about playing a game focussed on two-wheeled vehicles. Then along came MotoGP 19, and I am glad it did. Courtesy of Milestone, I have had some good and quality time with their latest entry in the MotoGP franchise. A game that I have thoroughly enjoyed and one that has reignited my passion for motorcycle games!
With that said, I will admit that the new title is not that different from last years version. While enjoyable, MotoGP 18 proved to be a rather boring experience after the first few hours of play. In particular, I called out the franchise for its lack of innovation. Especially in terms of how much it tried to be the next arcade racer versus being the hardcore sim it always used to be. The result was a strange and bland experience that I do not think anyone enjoyed. MotoGP 19, on the other hand, improves upon those caveats and brings the franchise back to its roots. The result is a highly enjoyable and rather hardcore motorbike racing simulator. In this Vamers MotoGP 19 Review, I go over exactly why the result is worth all the hours invested.
Gotta go fast!
In terms of the campaign, nothing has changed. MotoGP 19, much like the titles before it, remains a tie-in to the titular Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing (MotoGP) championship. This means that, as you start your in-game career, you will not be met with any non essential filler, like unnecessary credit scores, or money/experience points needed to unlock new tiers, and so on. Rather, you will be met with a simple choice between whether you are a Pro Driver or a normal everyday gamer who just happens to like racing games.
There is no story beyond this point. Your goal is to simply join in on one of the many championships the game has on offer, and to make it through from the start, all the way to the end, by being the best darn virtual racer you can be! Before you begin, however, the game throws you into a serviceable character creator.
The character customisation serves the player with a bunch of pre-rendered faces that you can use as templates to work upon and to refine at a slightly deeper degree. There are a few options for skin colour, hair colour, and even eye colour. What matters most during this process, however, is the fact that you need to give your new rider an age, a full name, and a number. Your rider will carry these all the way through to the end of the various championships in the career mode, and anywhere else that you opt not to choose an established character (based on a motorbiking celebrity) to race.
Unlike MotoGP 18, where players started out in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, MotoGP 19 lets you choose to play whichever championship you most fancy. There are quite a few as well: starting with the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup mentioned above, all the way through to the MotoGP Grand Prix, and everything in-between. I particularly liked joining in on the MotoE fun – there is something beautiful about not having to sit with traditional petrol engines, and instead play around with electronic engines instead. At the end of the day, however, I am a petrol-head just like any other, and the game adequately serves everyone in this regard.
You are your own engineering team
Progression in MotoGP 19 is nice and easy. There is no “golden path” that you must complete in order to get to the end. Rather, the career structures for each championship follow their own set of rules. Most of the time, this includes a bunch of practice rounds, a qualifying round or two, followed by the actual race, and its various stages. Going through each of these rounds is a must if you want to hone your skills on any given track. This is where you will be spending most of your time, after all.
Another great aspect is how the game gives you real-world time to go through each stage, whether it be practice, qualifying, or otherwise. I particularly loved this aspect. It lets you practice while teaching you about keeping your bike in tip-top shape. Players who would rather just skip to the races that actually matter, however, can do just that thanks to a cool stage select screen before every step in the Grand Prix. This step lets you choose which stages you would like to play, whether it includes all stages, or just one practice run and the race itself.
In previous MotoGP titles, you would go through development tests before every round. MotoGP 19 does this as well, but it does so in a far more natural way. During the development tests and the practice stages, players have to take note of the overall health of their bikes. At any given time, you are likely grinding your tyres down to their last layers of traction. Throughout all races and stages, you will have to enter the pit and swap out your tyres for a fresh new pair. This is a straightforward process that can go wrong really quickly if your driving is not up to snuff! The game, just like in real life, only lets you choose from a select amount of tyres. Your entire team cannot haul an infinite number of tyres across the world with them, after all. This is a nice little management system that encourages you to drive as safely as you can, while also keeping in mind that you actually have to win your races.
In that same vein, you also have to be your own engineering team every now and then. The game tweaks your bike for you as it thinks is optimal, but nothing is perfect. At the end of the day, you are the one controlling your rider and the bike they are piloting. As such, you have to keep in mind how fast your gears are switching, and whether or not it needs to be slower or faster. You have to keep in mind whether your rider leans too quickly or too slowly around turns, or whether your bike skids or slides into, and out of, the very same turns. Stability and traction play a huge role regardless of the weather. As such, you must practice and learn how your bike, and the driver you have created, work off of one another. Naturally, you must also get to grips (pun absolutely intended) with how much tweaking you need to do. The level of simulation is incredible. The only thing the game is short of is making players take a part and clean their own engines!
The sheer amount of tweaking you have to do to get the perfect ride can seem overwhelming. This is why the game also allows players to go through “guided” tweaks, where players simply explain to the computer-controlled artificial intelligence (AI) how their bikes are performing. I did not trust this and instead did my own tweaking. Naturally, this means that the way your bike handles relies solely on the way that you are taking care of your machine. Such a feature can either make or break the game. If, like me, you enjoy tweaking and playing around with simulation settings, then you will find the game incredibly rewarding. If not, the game can automatically adjust settings for you, but they will still take getting used to.
More rhymes with roar
MotoGP 19 absolutely nails the unique feeling of every single different bike, an outstanding feat. While I may not have tried them all, the fair few that I rode throughout my career mode, and the various other modes (more on that below), felt incredible. Almost like a brand-new game every single time I switched bikes, of which there are many to choose from!
I am unsure of the exact numbers, but the game does not let you choose certain bikes at the start of championships (since not all bikes are qualified for all championships). It also lets you break the rules a little bit within the other game modes MotoGP 19 has to offer. Beyond career mode, players can expect Historical Challenges, custom events, and Multiplayer.
Playing through a few custom matches is as straightforward as you might expect. These include mixing and matching your favourite tracks with your favourite riders or they can be enjoyed with only your customised rider and favourite bike. These races include Time Trials, standalone Grand Prix matches, or even full-fledged championships. You know, for when the career mode just does not cut it.
Historical Matches are an entirely new experience. It almost feels like an additional expansion. In this game mode, players can choose from four distinct types of races – all of which are based on prominent periods throughout MotoGP history. Once you choose one, you are met with a cool selection where you can play as past and present MotoGP legends, and even check out their bikes in all their detailed glory via the Showroom option. After ogling your favourite legend and their bike, you will be able to enter the race and tweak their bike to match your playstyle.
Unfortunately, Multiplayer remains stoic and bland. Although a proper addition to the game, it offers nothing new compared to the past few years of MotoGP titles. I will say this much, however: it will need a bit of time to populate with players. As it stands, you can only play local multiplayer, but that could also be a result of the pre-release review code we received.
From sepia filters and dust masks, to black and white crop shots
As with MotoGP 18 before it, MotoGP 19 is built on Unreal Engine 4.0. The move to the fourth major update of the Unreal Engine remains one of Milestone’s biggest and most noticeable improvements over the years. It is evident that the developers have learnt a lot after their maiden run with MotoGP 18. Needless to say, the game looks incredible where it matters: bikes feature incredulous amounts of detail while rider characters, based on established people, are uncanny in resemblance. Even the tracks feature an immense amount of detail that you would otherwise not appreciate due to the speedy nature of the game. However, the devil is in the details, and this is where MotoGP 19 misses its target.
Much like with MotoGP18, the biggest visual issue stems from how Milestone opted not to put any effort into the pit crew or spectators. The umbrella ladies and pit members are all rendered quite badly. They look soulless, and void of life. I suppose it does not matter too much since they are the smallest bits of the game. It does, however, take away from the game’s immersive quality, even if only a little.
Beyond the finer details, I must commend MotoGP 19 for its addition of a cool and in-depth photo mode. While you should not expect the level of detail that The Division 2 or Shadow of the Tomb Raider have, it is a great addition for anyone who enjoys snapping photos worthy of enthusiast magazines.
Loading times have also been improved upon a lot. One of my biggest complaints with MotoGP 18 was how long it took to load. MotoGP 19 does away with the longer load times, by way of introducing more loading. I know it sounds weird, but hear me out. Instead of giving players one huge loading screen every few menu transitions, MotoGP 19 features a quick loading screen almost every time you click on something. While arguably more annoying, I appreciate this way more than the horrendous loading of prior titles.
A hardcore simulator for hardcore fans
MotoGP 19 is a wonderfully hardcore simulator for fans who enjoy challenges. From the onset you are met with exceptionally detailed bikes, with detailed options to tweak the gameplay experience to exactly how you like it. I remember lamenting the fact that MotoGP 18 felt like a husk of its former self. I can gladly say that MotoGP 19 is nothing like that.
MotoGP 19 might only be an incremental improvement over upon MotoGP 18, but it does so in the best ways possible. The career mode, for instance, now gives players a lot more freedom, while the Historical Challenges mode is an incredible addition to the game mode roster. Multiplayer remains the same, but it still reaps the benefits of looking and playing better than before. Lastly, the game boasts tons more content than the game before it. I guess the only issue is that casual gamers will never be able to squeeze the fun out of it, the way I did; and that is a shame. For hardcore gamers, this is definitely a game worthy of investing your time.
|Hours to Complete||20+ Hours|
|Difficulty||Standard Driver in Career. Realistic Physics, with no aides. Optimal path indicators only in corners.|
|Acquisition||Review copy courtesy of Milestone S.r.l.|