Milestone is a company that knows racing. Few development studios can compare to the quality and effort that Milestone creates in their titles like the Ride series and their Motocross games. As we watch Milestone evolve each of their games into larger, more ambitious titles, there are certain pieces of their evolutionary process that hit, and others that miss their mark. Enter, MotoGP 19, a racing game built around the Motorcycle Grand Prix racing events. With a wide swath of features, MotoGP is the epitome of a disconnect between an ambitious game, and a mediocre simulation. Welcome to our MotoGP19 review.
In MotoGP19, Milestone prides itself in taking players on a headlights to taillights experience of being a rider in the Motorcycle Grand Prix. From an amateur to a pro, a lot of little pieces have been put together to make each race feel like you’re qualifying for the real-deal. In the career mode, races are broken up by weekends that consist of free practice sessions, qualifying sessions, warm-ups, and then the inevitable race. In theory this is great, it helps you learn the courses, place in the top 10 if you can and prepares you for the big tournament race ahead. In practice though, the majority of the races get boring pretty quickly. The practices and qualifying races all feel the same, and you would have to be some kind of racing fan to run multiple practices around tracks that won’t really affect you much when the actual race is underfoot.
Yes, getting ahead of the pack early on can certainly be helpful, but for me, the majority of the fun in a game like MotoGP is finding my way through the large packs to become the leader. Like many other Milestone games, during a race, if you make a mistake, take a turn too wide, crash into someone else and fall off your motorcycle, they give you the option to rewind time to make up for that mistake. In most cases I simply opted to run one free practice lap around any new tracks, and then simply hop over to the race itself. Everything else across the weekend just feels like filler to me, when they could have simply added a qualifying race and the actual race. As an actual simulation, MotoGP doesn’t really fulfill that niche, as the customization you can do to your motorcycle is quite limited to engine and frame upgrades. The character creation is possibly the worst part of it all, with severely limited options. This isn’t the first time a Milestone game has under performed in the character creation space, but after several games with truly abysmal character representation, maybe it is time that they changed the formula a little bit.
In terms of the actual racing, the bikes feel pretty good in general. It certainly does take some practice and forethought to tackle some of these tracks. Knowing when to begin your lean for an upcoming turn could be the difference between jumping to first place, or falling back to thirtieth. If you are really ballsy, popping off track to gain an advantage could be risky as they will penalize your time heavily if you begin to cut corners too often. I tested this to the limit in one of my races, and jumped out ahead to first place and held it the entire race with ease. After finishing though, I still placed in the middle of the pack. I would say that this would attempt to keep players honest, but for players really looking to test their limits, what this really does, is teaches players which corners they can squeak by without it registering a penalty, utilizing a time-rewind feature to fine-tune it to great effect.
In addition to the career mode, players will also be able to hop into the multiplayer, eSport championship, historical challenges, and a quick mode which just pops you into a race. You also have a nifty graphics editor if you want to make your own wearable graphics. It is definitely a neat little touch that die hard racing fans might really get into. At the time of this review I was not able to test the MotoGP eSport championship, but that will likely be added in excess once the game has released. The historical challenges are certainly another cool little homage to the world of the MotoGP world. You can replay historical rivalries and races throughout time. For true fans, this could be a fantastic way to relive those moments that you could only watch previously.
MotoGP 19 is still making progress in the racing world, with a lot of cool features that are really fan-specific. There are a lot of little things that can confuse players to whether this game wants to be a game, or if it wants to be a simulation. As a game, it has some cool features, such as being able to rewind time, but the premise gets marred by the menus that can get pretty difficult to understand and most of the additional features that make the game feel more simulation like the weekend qualifying system feels tedious unless you skip it entirely. Still, the real-feel racing system will still ring true to motorcycle racing fans. and when it comes down to it, that is truly what counts in a racing game.