Between riding and writing about bikes I’ve always enjoyed motorcycle racing games, despite them being few and far between. I fondly remember Polyphony Digital’s (the makers of the Gran Turismo series) Tourist Trophy back in 2006, getting up extra early before school to sneak a few races in. Time to get modern, and review the new Moto GP 2019 game!
Fast forward to modern times, and there are very few motorcycle titles choose from. The best of the crop is the Moto GP series from Milestone. The Italian company creates both the Moto GP series and the Ride series, the latter features more road and circuit-riding than the GP based championship game. The two games mostly prop each other up. They both use the same scarily realistic physics and graphics engines, in reality, it’s just the bike skins, textures, and the tracks that change.
Previous years this has been a problem. Early Moto GP games, suffered the same bugs and glitches repeatedly, and software updates providing cures were rare, if there were any.
Moto GP 2019 has an all-new and improved physics engine
Milestone changed this in 2018, it saw an update in physics engine which left some people somewhat disappointed. Moto GP 19 has updated, the update and now it looks, feels and sounds epic from every aspect.
The updated physics engine is a step up from the previous ‘one size fits all’ style. Now, a Suzuki Moto GP bike feels different from a Honda. The big heavy GP bikes feel cumbersome compared the Lightweight Moto 3 bikes. The historic 90s’ 500cc 2stroke powerhouses feel entirely alien compared to the new Moto E electric bikes. Each bike has its own charismatic feel, and sound which transforms the game. If you were disappointed by Moto GP 18, 2019 is a step up by far.
Featuring officially licensed riders, paint jobs and circuits with highly accurate modelling. There are some historic tracks, riders and bikes, including fan favourite Donington, and the 500cc 2 Stroke era bikes.
long live the 2 Strokes!
The most significant update for 2019 is something players have been crying out for, for years, in the form of extra customisation. Helmets, race numbers, and butt stickers can all be customised with up to 1000 layers. Plenty yo come up with the most imaginative designs. Created designs can be shared and downloaded by other players, meaning there is a vast array of company logo’s from Monster Energy to Oakley sunglasses.
How to get your ass handed to you
Being a veteran of motorcycle games, I jump straight into the ‘Pro’ career mode. I may live to regret this. Pro mode, takes the realism up a few notches over the standard career. Riders race pace is seriously quick, there are no second chance rewinds, physics and realism are turned up, and so are the race rules.
The AI is turned up this year too. Milestones’ new ‘Neutral AI’ has smartened up your opponents. It has always been a gripe that the computer-controlled riders were ‘dumb’ and followed a set path. When leaving the pits, the AI join straight onto the racing line. Contact couldn’t be helped would result in loss of time at the least, failing that a penalty or a crash.
The smart AI now semi fixes that, but not only that you actually have a fight on your hands to lift that trophy. The more you stick your elbows out to the AI, the more it sticks it’s elbows out, back to you. Lunges down the inside are common, and in some cases, the odd nudge here and there livens up the racing. For Moto 3, it feels as real as it looks on TV.
Moto GP 19, the first game since GTA Vice City to play with a notepad.
Starting as a young teenager in the Red Bull rookies cup, and working up the ladder to becoming a GP superstar, it’s harder than it sounds. It’s also pretty time consuming too. To be competitive, the bike needs development, and to aid this work, you are assigned tasks, which need completing through free practice sessions. If you don’t complete the full weekend, you are missing valuable performance enhancing research.
Research tasks come in three forms, which are how you would expect real teams to structure development. As a rider, you’re given a quick lap test, a racing simulation and a line test to ensure you can gain the most efficient route around the track.
Being ultra-competitive I have a notepad in front of me, carefully noting track temperatures and tyre options for each run. All this comes in handy when it comes to the race, and picking what tyre combination to run with.
Chose your path wisely!
As you climb the ranks and classes, development gets more technical. Top-level Moto GP pre-season testing involves testing of variants of the same part such as frames, to decide which direction to take for the rest of the season. Of course, this affects the whole team and your teammate, too, so pick wisely.
MotoE adds a whole new challenge. For an ultra try it in the wet!
Moto E has been added. Track selections are limited which was a disappointment, as I would have loved to have taken them to some of the tracks, not on the Moto E calendar. The feel of the bike is wildly different from the others in the game. While it won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, it certainly bodes a challenge, more so in the wet. Dealing with the extra weight, the instantaneous torque, and lack of gears is great fun.
Between Ben and me, we have racked up over 350 hours on Moto GP 19 alone, with Ben clocking the bulk of that, and all of them on the PC version. We both agree that the 2019 release is a massive step up; however, there are still some annoyances.
AI in Moto GP 19 plays dirty!
Unlike the real championships, where there is any number of possible finishing combinations, the game seems quite easy to predict the finishing order. There’s also a lack of drama from the AI. While the battling is fierce and the competition is much improved from previous games, the AI still seems too perfect and unflappable. They rarely fall off, even after significant contact, and never crash out, from either forced or unforced errors.
I would love the ‘Pro’ mode to have been a real step up. Random failures, and even an injury system where if you crash too heavily, you may have to sit out the next race. This is getting awfully realistic and might take the fun out for some players, but for pro mode, it could be exciting.
Milestone is back to doing what it does best.
Moto GP 2019 is definitely a substantial improvement. Milestone’s focus has been brought back to what it really should be on; making the best racing game they can. While the other novelty items on the VR46 edition were fun for five mins, it took focus away from the actual game, it’s great to have that focus back.
Regardless if you are a top-level Moto GP Esport competitor or just somebody who hops on for a 10 min chill, this game has everything and is seriously addictive. If you are a perfectionist, you will get lost in the helmet editor, creating perfect custom paint colours.
For more information see the Milestone website