The PS4 hasn’t exactly been awash with racers since its release in November. We have had Need For Speed Rivals and… Well that’s it. Driveclub is coming, but has been delayed and there is the upcoming Project Cars too, but for petrol heads the genre has been rather empty the past few months.
Step in Milestone and MotoGP 14 and whilst not a racer for fans of four wheels, it should at least scratch that itch.
We at Gamestyle will admit we aren’t hardcore fans of the two wheeled variety of motorsport, but we do watch it occasionally, enough to know the top stars of the sport, such as Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, Cal Crutchlow, etc. Why do we mention this? Well because we couldn’t tell you if the bikes are acting in 100% the precise nature they should, or if they have perfectly modeled handling. So we come into this as casual fans more than anything.
One of the things that stood out instantly was the presentation of the game, it is very slick and doesn’t need any second introductions to show off the stars of the sport and their bikes. Each track has it’s own video introduction that shows off the area as well as the tracks and gives the whole game a pretty decent broadcast type presentation.
Visually it is easy to tell that MotoGP 14 is a cross generational title and whilst it doesn’t look bad by any stretch of the imagination, it doesn’t exactly show off the power of the PS4. That being said, it still does look the part and is one of the best looking bike racers we have seen.
There are a wealth of options available within MotoGP 14, from the usual instant races and time trials to career mode and more. The Career mode is the bread and butter of the game, seeing you create a rider and start from the bottom tier to try and make it all the way to the MotoGP itself.
You start in Moto3 for a lower ranked team, having to meet objectives to move up to better teams, better series and eventually the MotoGP. What was impressive here was that objective weren’t unrealistic and even if you find yourself starting half way down the grid, your objective would be to finish 15th, or beat a team-mate. Winning wasn’t everything and only really came into play as you progressed to better teams with higher expectations.
The bikes seemed to perform at a level you’d expect based on your objective and with the right settings you can happily be battling it out 10th place in a race with a bunch of other riders and not being overly bothered by the leader racing off into the distance.
Again what worked here, was even on a medium setting, the races feel tight and competitive with the AI not simply going slower because they were of a lower difficulty, instead they are just more cautious under breaking, taking less risks accelerating out of corners, or defending a line. You felt you still had to push them to overtake or even defend a position. Milestone have managed to get the difficulty balance spot on in this respect and you honestly feel like you are in a race from the moment the lights go out.
With this also, qualifying matters, it isn’t a case of skipping it, knowing you could nail five to six positions in the first corner, you once again feel you need to put a performance in during qualifying to get the best starting position possible. Career modes can often get boring quickly as you just go through the motions, but here, despite lacking the bells and whistles, Milestone have a career mode that feels pretty engaging.
There are other things that feel really good within the game too. A problem a lot of casual fans have with realistic racing games, is a lack of knowledge with regards to what is going on under the hood. Tuning a car to get the best performance isn’t always the easiest thing to do and with that in mind Milestone have solved that problem.
You can still go into your garage and fiddle with the sliders and tune the bike how you want, so there is no ‘dumbing down’ to speak of, but you also have the option of speaking to your mechanic and telling him what is wrong or what you feel you need to improve. After a short conversation in the form of multiple choice questions, he will then go ahead and make some technical changes.
It is as simple as telling him something like “my bike wobbles under braking” or “I am losing speed down the straights” and after a couple of follow up questions, you can test out the new settings. Of course if it doesn’t work, you can just go back, let him know and he will revert the bike to before the change were made.
Now whilst this is just a simple automatic setting for tuning, it is in the way it is presented that really works. It is how you’d expect thing to happen in a garage on race weekend, the rider will do some laps, go back and update their team on what is right, what feels off and then the team will work on the bike. The rider has input, but doesn’t do the work and here it adds to that feeling of realism.
Away from the career mode you also have the option to play through the a full championship season from MotoGP, Moto2 or Moto3, using either an official rider, or custom riders. There are generic options, the opportunity to relive the 2013 championship, or the Champions Championship which pits all the world champions from 1994 to 2001 against each other.
Real Events 2013 is a scenario mode, that allows you to either recreate or change events from the 2013 season. This is something that has crept into racers based on real world championships of late, as seen in recent F1 games and once again is a nice addition to the roster. Challenge the Champions is a further take on this, but instead of focusing on the 2013 season it takes scenarios from other periods and asks you again to recreate or change history.
The oddest addition to the modes is the Safety Car mode, which essentially has you racing the safety car around tracks in a time-trial mode. The issue here is that the car (a BMW M4 coupe) just doesn’t feel right in the handling, it is after all a bike racer and driving one single car in a separate mode just doesn’t fit. If you wanted to race cars, then you’d be better off buying a car racer instead…Unless Milestone are having a dig at the lack of next gen racers of course!
Over the years, the main issue with games such as MotoGP is that they have never been as accessible as their four wheeled brothers. The lines taken into corners, the way you brake for a corner, accelerate out and even attempt an overtake is all different. They do require you to spend a lot of time with them to even get the basics down .That said, when things do click they can be very rewarding and the same is true with MotoGP 14.
Starting with the lesser powered bikes in Moto3 allows you to get a feel for how a bike will handle and as you progress to the beasts rode in the MotoGP, you will start to feel a lot more comfortable and soon you will be challenging and getting a lot of enjoyment from the races.
MotoGP 14 won’t be for everyone, but during a time when the number of racing games on the PS4 is at a minimum, it more than scratches that itch. There is plenty of value for money in the game for those who want to dive in.