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Game review: MotoGP 21 (PC)

By Darren Price, 14 May 2021

In another COVID year of restrictions, video games continue to entertain and excite us with digital versions of sporting events and championships from the relative safety of our homes.   

As an iterative franchise, one MotoGP game can feel very much the same as the next year’s game. For MotoGP 21, this marks the first game in the series to be released for the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5. I’m not sure if this is the inspiration to throw some fresh ideas into the mix, but Milestone has done just that.

As someone that has a foolish tendency to push the envelope, my poor rider falls off his bike a fair bit, especially as I’m getting back into the game. For this year, instead of my rider magically reappearing on his bike, the game made me run over to the fallen machine and get back on, just as you would in real life (if you’d not done yourself a mischief). It’s a little thing, but it’s one more step towards a 100% simulation of this breath-taking motorsport. If you’d sooner the classic respawn, this can be selected in the option.

The game is primarily focused on the riders and machines of the 1000cc 2021 MotoGP season, but players can also partake in Moto2 with Triumph’s three-cylinder 765cc machines and the 250cc Moto3. The game also allows players to compete in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. There are also several classic bikes with their riders from previous MotoGP seasons allowing players to take out 800cc and 900cc 4-stroke bikes as well as 500cc 2-strokes.

The game features 20 circuits from around the world from the 2021 MotoGP season. There are also three bonus former circuits, including historic Donnington in the UK. MotoGP 21’s campaign also asks the player to make decisions off the track in hiring staff and researching technology to improve the team’s success in the tournament. 

The bike handling takes no prisoners. There is a full suite of rider aids, of which I’d only recommend combined braking (taking the need to use the front and rear brakes independently away from the player- who has enough to worry about). Manual gears instil the discipline required to take a corner at a low enough speed to not slide off.

The is a massive difference in performance between the 250cc bikes and the 1000cc machines. Notice riders should stick to the slower bikes until they get used to the handling. The campaign allows players to start their career with the Moto3 and this is what I’d recommend new players. 

Each event features an entire race weekend. On day one, players can practise and tune their bikes as well as carry out performance test challenges. Day two has the qualifying sessions and day three the championship race. Players can select which activities that they wish to partake including skipping straight to the race if they want to.

The game also allows players to select their own championship race pair bikes/riders with circuits, adjusting weather and time, for a unique off-off event. Players can also select an entire MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3, or Rookies Cup competition.

The game has online multiplayer, with players able to join and create public and private races. There’s no local split-screen, which is a bit of a shame, but probably more of an issue for console players than PC players. 

The game ran really well on the test rig, I’d say anyone with the reasonable GPU should have any trouble running the game at 1440p, with the likes of an RTX 3070 achieving a healthy result in 4K. I was running the game max setting in 1440p with 200% resolution and hitting over 100 frames per second with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090.

MotoGP 21 is a good-looking game. The visuals are crisp and the lighting very nice. The circuits do seem a little sterile and could do with a little bit more detail to make them photoreal. The bikes are superbly detailed, something really shown off well in the game’s photo mode.

Once again, MotoGP 21, gives players a chance to experience this extreme motorsport. The learning curve is high and the level of discipline required not to just open up the throttle and spill is huge. The game looks the business and is packed with circuits, bikes and players from the top level of motorcycling both past and present. 

With customisation options and online multiplayer, there’s something for everyone at all levels. MotoGP fans should have no worries in picking up this year’s game, with newcomers catered for with a selection of riding aids and that old faithful, the rewind button.

A PC copy of MotoGP 21 was supplied for review by the publisher.

Verdict: 8.5/10

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