REVIEW – Milestone launched this year’s MotoGP adaptation at the best time once again: just before E3. It’s not easy to get on a bike at this time of the year, as you may get two game announcements while riding a single lap, but after a few laps, I can say that the Italian team doesn’t seem to show significant improvements, even though I gave them a chance to do so last year.
First, an explanation for the unusually late time – it’s only fair, I think I have to mention this. So MotoGP 19 came out on June 6, on a Thursday. Now, review codes tend to show up before the game launches (such was the case with MotoGP 18 and Monster Energy Supercross 2), so with those titles, getting the review done by the time the embargo ends was possible, as I had time to deal with them before the launch date. Now, I got the code on release day. It’s nobody’s fault – the timing of the game was unlucky. (I think Milestone could have pushed the game out a week earlier, and nobody would have had a word about that.)
MotoGP 19 tries to go FIFA, but thankfully, it’s not doing it by putting in something similar to Ultimate Team (because if that was the case, I’d have immediately thrown out the Steam key!). I mean the menu system here: I honestly feel like seeing FIFA 18 when I first saw it. So there’s a career mode (which I’ll discuss a bit later), our rider’s creation (now with even less presets, giving you absolutely no chance of making your own rider 100%, as you get only twelve presets for your head, wtf?), pick your name and its shortened version, your age, nationality, the helmet, the rider number, the sticker on your overall, then the gloves, boots, and the brand of the overall. There’s also the online content search, which exists because the Graphics Editor allows you to customize your helmets, rider numbers and the sticker on your rider’s overall! Customization! Too bad you still can’t properly create your own rider.
eSports championship, that doesn’t work yet, but it’s already there (F1 also seems to push its own eSports hard, makes sense), then under multiplayer, you have the lobbies list, and you can make your own match (private/public, plus the Race Director, where you can invite the riders, set the list of rules, and the like). Multiplayer has improved. There’s not a lot of lobbies, though (when I checked it nearly a week after the game’s launch, I found only five. Let me repeat that: I only found five lobbies.), so let’s just say that life might quickly die here despite the improvements.
I like the Historical Challenges: it comes with four categories (500cc Heroes, The Dawn of the MotoGP, Great Rivalries, The Modern Era), with a total of sixty challenges. It’s a varied and excellent idea, which will provide hours of fun for the veteran fans of the series!
Last but not least, there’s the career. Well, in this case, regardless of which branch I picked on Steam (I will get back to this subject, too – don’t worry, you’ll get your book length of discussion), I could have started in any category, meaning I could easily skip the Red Bull Rookies MotoGP Cup and instantly begin in the top category, MotoGP!
Was I not going into detail so far? Maybe. The main mode of the game is still the career mode, though, if you want to play offline (as you’ll eventually complete those challenges). I previously said that it had a few unnecessary things. Well, yeah, they cut the community feed crap out – instead, you get a sped up video in the background while you can see a single screen where the left 2/3 shows the last MotoGP winner, and the remaining 1/3 shows the Moto2 winner, with the Moto3 winner being just mentioned in the text. Creating your own team? I don’t think so. Instead, you get to do testing before the championship – here, you get three packs to choose from if you have a faster lap than what they require.
After picking one, you get to improve it across the season during Free Practice sessions (which is awfully similar to what F1 2017 started). You’ll have three types of tests: qualification lap (beat the required time), race simulation (complete either three or five laps under the base time – five laps get you more resource points), and the track affinity (beat the lap time and try to stay on the proper racing line as much as possible). These earn you the resource points to improve either the performance or the drivability of the bike. You can improve the engine, the frame, the TCS (Traction Control System), the EB (engine brake) and the anti-wheelie (to avoid getting your bike get on one wheel at the starts or while accelerating out of corners). The first two categories have three, the remaining ones have two upgrade levels.
After all this, all you have to do is qualify and finish the races better than the requirement to satisfy the team and eventually be the team leader to get more resource points and reputation, which will get the attention of better teams higher up the grid. That’s all: the better you ride, the faster you’ll be noticed.
I think the game’s physics (you can also pick the Pro mode in career, where all bits of help are disabled, pushing you to as close to real-life riding as possible) made the game easier to handle, or I somehow managed to instantly get used to my Yamaha, as, in 18, I had no easy work in the top category, while here, after a single lap, I was flying. (And as usual, there’s the rewind, braking help, proper race line displaying, and you can also set the AI level by percentage – don’t worry, you’ll easily thrash it on 40%, Medium, which is the default.) The handling improved, and I can already tell you that this is why MotoGP 19 will get a higher score than what 18 received. But from now on, prepare for my long discussion on where I still see things that need to improve.
So: where is the tutorial? Does Milestone not care about the casual players at all? They should think about them as well! So, there is no tutorial whatsoever in this game.
I’ll be honest with you: my first thing in this game was to check something that has been a collision detection flaw of the MotoGP games for years. That issue, my dear reader, is still there. So: you can still ride through trackside advertising boards as if they aren’t there. I seriously cannot believe this. I turned everything to Pro, and it still happened. Do I have to directly contact Milestone about this issue to be finally addressed? Also, via the Unreal Engine 4, there are still some texture-related issues. You might see the crowd „get up to speed” in front of your eyes, but you might also notice the game taking its time to recognize the texture issues. (On PlayStation 4 Pro, there’s HDR support at least.) Still, I think MotoGP looks ugly. In wet weather, sure, it looks far better, but I still consider the visuals to be sub-par.
Audio? There’s some improvement, but not much. They replaced the commentary, that’s okay. Background music? Only in menus. During races? No. You’ll hear some lawnmowers. It’s – unfortunately – not Isle of Man TT, which had an amazing audio design in my opinion. Then there’s this Neural AI, which should respond to your riding style accordingly. Now, they don’t seem to care about dodging me: I have seen several times that my rider was a ghost, as the AI just rode through him (and yes, you still magically respawn on your bike, because why bother improving this aspect, right?), but I also saw that after me braking a bit early, the AI rammed me with three riders. I have also seen a few times that the AI took corners inappropriately (I think I recall Assen and its first turn to be a problem…), not to mention a rider behind me cutting a corner, then using me as a wall to bump off of. He kept going. I just crashed. Thanks, buddy!
The developers deserve a little middle finger as well, as although there are some historical challenges, but if you want to play the complete 1992 season, you gotta pay five dollars or euros for that. Day-1 DLC. (At least there’s not as much as was with RIDE 3, which has gone overboard with DLC, but I think that is a GOOD game…) I also say it because the review code gave no access to that. I can’t judge it because of it. (And this is NOT the distributor’s fault, I can’t blame them for it.) Oh, and that press_review branch. So I got a code for that. I copy-paste it in, click okay, it got accepted. Immediately a 2.4 GB patch starts to download after downloading 15 gigs for the game itself. Okay, I get it downloaded, and then I saw a WORK IN PROGRESS text, constantly, in the top right corner. What? I quit the game, and then I see [preview] next to the name of the game. So I got the preview branch as well with a press code. Interesting. So I switch over to press_review as I should. BAM, 2.6 GB patch. Oh come on… and guess what, I had to restart the career because of the previous save not being supported. Thank God I noticed this early!
So I can’t really recommend MotoGP 19 either. Last year, I gave a 4.5 out of 10. Now I give this game a 5 because it’s easier to handle, and the online got a bit of attention, but there’s no tutorial, you can’t make your own team, the retro content is limited unless you pay extra, and the whole game still feels ultraminimalistic. It still has issues that have been present for YEARS, and I still have to keep mentioning them because the Italians aren’t able to address them! Now, I’m going to copy in a sentence from last year’s review (and, since I write this after submitting today’s news, and in one go, no less, I think I deserve it): „There’s still a way to improve, but if they do it by removing things from the game, then I’m just going to repeat myself: „please Dorna, take the license away from them!””
So at the end of this ten thousand character opus, the only reason why I give MotoGP a 5 out of 10 is because it handles better, but I still wouldn’t pay 50 dollars for it (which is somehow converted to 70+ on the local PlayStation Store in our currency, really good price, Sony). Oh, there’s also a five dollar Historic Pack, and on PS4, there’s also another five dollars/euro DLC that doubles your reputation and resource points. (On PC, there’s Cheat Engine instead… ;)) So that’s it, I’m done. I’m about to reach the bottom of the fourth page, and while I didn’t write as much as I did last year, it’s only because MotoGP 19 doesn’t seem to be willing to become more than what 18 was, and therefore – as well as because of the eSports focus – I’m afraid that I cannot recommend this game for anyone else but the hardcore fans. So five out of ten. Thank you Magnew for providing the review code.
+ It’s easier to handle
+ The return of retro content (and the addition of the neural AI)
+ Online isn’t ignored
– Release day DLC…?
– Still weak audiovisually
– It’s still minimalistic, and it still hasn’t come through the issues that have been present for YEARS
Genre: MotoGP license video game adaptation
Release date: June 6, 2019