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Game review: MotoGP 20 (PC)

04 Jun 2020

Developer, Milestone, has come forward with this year’s outing for their official MotoGP motorcycle racing series.

Like pretty much all sporting events, the actual MotoGP has been postponed this year. It could be that MotoGP 20 is the only way you are going to see the 2020 season races. Thankfully, once again, Milestone has stepped up to the plate and delivered a superb motorcycle racing game.

For those new to racing on two wheels, it’s a lot different to racing cars and a lot less forgiving. Motorcycles are inherently unstable and care must be taken braking, accelerating and taking corners. It’s only with discipline and speed control that rider get to stay seated on their machines instead of sliding along the tarmac on their butts. 

Whilst real-world riders have the feedback, forces and a little bit of fear to keep them in check, riding bikes in video games feels the same at 50 km/h as it does at 250 km/h which can be disastrous. Add in sensitive steering, hair-trigger breaking and weight distribution and you’ve got a tough learning curve.

It's this learning curve that is, at once, MotoGP 20’s biggest issue and its appeal. On one hand, the game is punishingly hard to get to grips with, I would say harder than many its peers like Isle of Man TT 2. It’s so frustrating that more than once I gave up playing, review be damned. On the other hand, when it does all fall into place, the game offers immense satisfaction. 

It’s only with perseverance that the game opens itself up. Practice practice practice. It was only by selecting full race weekends, complete with practice sessions to familiarise me with the circuits, that I was finally able to stay on the bike.

The game offers a few riding aids in assisted physics, automatic and joint braking, off-track help (less slippery grass, racing line, bike electronics, semi-automatic gearing and, of course, rewind. Whilst these all help, and rewind takes away the frustration, the assists dilute the gameplay so much that they actually serve to extend the learning curve. 

Taking off the training wheels is brutal, but you do start to ride more like you would on a real bike. Manual gears help keep your speed in check. The lack of a racing line gets you to read the road rather than stare at a line that serves only to give you a false sense of security.

The game can be played from a behind-the-bike, third-person view or several riders-eye, first-person views. I found the rider views interesting, but the camera movement a bit too disorientating. 

The bike handling feels about right. I would have liked to be able to calibrate and adjust the control sensitivity a bit, as you can in other racing games. The bikes do handle differently, with older, heavier bikes being a tad more controllable than lighter, faster bikes.   

Not only does the game feature the 2020 MotoGP season, you also select bikes and riders from Moto2 and Moto3. You can also race with 4-stroke historical bikes and 500cc 2-strokes.

The game has a variety on mode to get into. Quick modes allow a dip into a full GP race weekend of your choosing, some valuable time-trial practice and a whole GP championship. The career mode includes more of the business behind the racing and allows players to start with the MotoGP or from the beginning of their career with Moto3 or Moto2. The historic mode offers challenges from the history of the motorsport.

The game also features a fully-featured editor, allowing the player to customise their rider, helmet and team. They can also create stickers and numbers for their bikes.

Players can also take the game online and race in multiplayer. Races can be found via public lobbies or create your own.

The game features the twenty circuits of the MotoGP, including Australia’s Philip Island. As you’d expect in a modern racing title, there’s a lot of attention to detail on the part of the developers to get the circuits looking just right.

Playing on PC, the visuals look astounding. The bikes look incredible and crashes horrendously realistic. The game has beautiful lighting across the different race weather from sunny to wet, and even night.

MotoGP 20 is possibly the least forgiving motorcycle racing game that I’ve ever played. It took hours in order for me to just be able to stay on the tarmac without taking a ride off into the slippery grass. Turning off the assists helped me battle through the learning curve a bit faster, but it was a grind. In the end, though, I was rewarded by a massive sense of achievement. The game did, however, push my patience to the limit, and I can see many people giving up before getting anywhere near mastering the game.

If you are up of the challenge, MotoGP 20 does deliver a very good simulation of this very exciting motorsport championship, but be prepared to put in the hard yards.

Verdict: 7.5/10