It’s been quite a while since a new MotoGP game hit the console shelves; the last outing was MotoGP 10/11 covering the 2011 season and one that turned out to have a tragic event early on in the race at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. On lap two, the shining talent that was Marco Simoncelli came off his motorcycle and was hit across the neck and chest by Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi, losing his crash helmet in the process. The race was red flagged and never finished and Marco was later pronounced dead from his injuries, a sure indication that the sport can be a dangerous one. Rest in Peace Super Sic.
Fast forward to 2013 and a new game from developers Milestone has arrived. Covering all the official races in the 2013 season, Milestone, who last touched the franchise in 2008, gives us access to the MotoGP bikes and the supporting series in the form of Moto 2 and Moto 3.
The game has a full set of different game modes to get stuck into, but ultimately they all involve riding a motorcycle as fast as possible around a race circuit at some point. Milestone have tried to add a few additional features in the Career Mode to make it feel like a more complete experience, but if it’s pure racing action you’re after it’s possible to jump right in with the quick race option. There are some limitations here, as not all official riders are unlocked from the start (and some are DLC content), however there are enough of the top riders to get things going and more become available as you level up.
For those who want the longer experience, the career mode starts you in the motorhome without a contract for the Moto 3 series. Instead you’re asked to guest ride for lowly teams until it’s proven that you have got what it takes for a full season contract. The manager and team will set targets that are expected to be beaten, and if successful, it will mean faster bikes and better financed teams. The difficulty level and general proficiency of the AI, even on the lowest setting, means that early races feel very tough, but it should be remembered that winning those first few races is an unrealistic goal in career mode. It’s not just a matter of keeping management happy though, fans through the Social Media will send their feedback, good and bad, on your performance – the better your results the more fans will follow you.
The handling of the motorcycles can take a little bit of getting used to and it will take a couple of races to get in to the right zone, but once you understand that taking the right lines and hitting those apexes is a key aspect to winning races, it soon starts to make more sense. Milestone has moved away from the more arcady nature of the 2011 edition, making it feel far more simulation, but there are few options that can be tweaked to help the novice out, such as auto-breaking, steer assist and auto tuck-in. It’s also possible to talk to your mechanic to change your bike’s setup options, like gear ratios and steering geometries. It’s worth having a play with these various possibilities until the bike starts to handle comfortably.
The presentation of the game is well done, showing images and video of circuits and surrounding area of the different countries you are visiting throughout the racing season, although after they’ve been seen once there’s little point in not skipping them, as they don’t change. The rider and bike animations work well with liveries displaying true to their respective teams and riders, though things can get very glitchy on track. There is some definite frame rate stutter when things get busy on screen and on replays some bikes will magically float above the tarmac, defying the laws of physics.
Given the meat of the career mode there is definitely a level of longevity to the game, so long as you enjoy the racing – the different game modes don’t really change things up very much however, so unless it’s just a quick race for some speed thrills, this is where most of your time will be spent. It takes plenty of time to build up the level rankings too and as some unlocks are well above level fifty, the 2014 season could well be here before things are maxed out.
The online modes are well catered for with plenty of options to cater for all skill levels. In the lobbies there’s the ability to set the AI level, weather, track, and physics model difficulty along with turning collisions, damage and tyre wear on or off. It’s also possible to have full qualifying to decide race order, though most lobbies seemed to have this turned off. Track selection can be fixed or voted on, so it’s just a matter of finding a lobby that suits the player’s needs. There are some very skilled riders out there though and winning online will mean a lot of practice if a podium finish is desired. It’s nice to see a split-screen mode in the multiplayer options for those without an internet connection (apparently they do still exist), something many developers dropped long ago.
MotoGP 13 is a solid enough racing game and the only option currently if playing the 2013 season is what’s wanted and as such will tick the right boxes, even though it feels a little on the budget side. The formula has barely changed since MotoGP 06 however, and other than keeping up with the latest circuits, teams and riders, there are less reasons to keep making this one an annual purchase.