"MotoGP 13 has every right to stand next to the industry behemoths. While lacking in polish and visual finesse, Milestone’s return to the brand brings some of the finest, and most challenging, bike racing to date."
It’s been over a decade since I last played a MotoGP title. If memory serves right, it was back in the PS2 days when Namco still published the series. While the many sequels popped up on my radar over the years, I never got a chance to try any of them…and it’s a real shame because MotoGP is a franchise that takes bike racing very seriously, offering a radically different driving experience from its four-wheeled brethren. Cycling through various developers over the years and shifting from arcade to simulation with each permutation, the series never established itself as an esteemed icon within the genre. Then again, it seems that cars have dominated the racing scene and trying to fit in with a niche category isn’t an easy task. Fortunately, MotoGP 13 has every right to stand next to the industry behemoths. While lacking in polish and visual finesse, Milestone’s return to the brand brings some of the finest, and most challenging, bike racing to date.
Instinctively, my first reaction was to jump into Instant Race to get a feel for the handling. Here I am, thinking that years of experience playing Forza and Gran Turismo would somehow flawlessly transition to the unforgiving sport that is GP bike racing. Before I could blink, my bike lost control and sent me flying as I approached the first turn. And here we have a game that truly understands the meaning of simulation. MotoGP 13 requires some trial and error before its physics feel second nature, but once you master the first few corners… it’s impossible to deny Milestone’s mastery of the sport.
"To make life a little easier, Milestone added a rewind feature, similar to Codemaster’s Dirt and Grid series, which can be incredibly useful when messing up near the end of a race."
I highly suggest turning off the racing line, the driving aids, and switching to the helmet cam for the most authentic experience. Seeing through the eyes of your racer as you take corners tilted nearly ninety degrees downward while surrounded by tons of steel is an unprecedented feeling. There’s a real sense of vulnerability as you muscle your way through the pack and the tiniest mistake can result in a crash. To make life a little easier, Milestone added a rewind feature, similar to Codemaster’s Dirt and Grid series, which can be incredibly useful when messing up near the end of a race. Of course if you’re a racing purist, you can always turn the feature off in the options menu.
MotoGP 13 doesn’t make the most visually pleasing impression. The presentation feels haphazardly slapped together and doesn’t seem to want your attention. Races are introduced by awkward real-life videos that resemble a cheap PBS travel show and the menu design looks like something an amateur design student cobbled together. Once you’re on the track, things look only slightly better. The bikes are superbly crafted and the racer uniforms display impressive detail, but the lack of polish in the environments is quite disappointing. The lighting is dull and the game engine doesn’t seem to keep up with the action no matter how meaty your computer specs are. But despite the technical drawbacks and lackluster visuals, MotoGP 13 succeeds where it matters the most, the gameplay.
"In MotoGP 13, it’s all about getting straight to the action without wasting much time with minute distractions."
In terms of gameplay modes, MotoGP 13 offers the expected lineup: Career, Championship, Grand Prix, Instant Race, and Multiplayer. Championship and Grand Prix could have been merged together into an Arcade mode since they’re practically identical and offer little diversity outside the Career mode. The Career is similarly structured to Dirt 2. The menu is a first person view of your home base where the races, notifications and standings are accessed by simply panning the camera around. Before each race you can sign up with different teams, each offering different tasks and challenges (like finishing in a certain position or beating a given rival). In MotoGP 13, it’s all about getting straight to the action without wasting much time with minute distractions. While a little more customization and variety would have been nice, it’s easy to overlook the imperfections when you’re whizzing 170+ miles per hour.
MotoGP 13 is an unquestionably superb racer that’s only held back by technical shortcomings and a lack of depth. If you’re willing to look past the aging visuals and limited Career mode, MotoGP 13 offers some of the most thrilling and engaging GP bike racing out there. With a little more visual pizzazz and a more stable performance, MotoGP could earn its place amongst the best in the genre.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC