Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Reviewed by: Bracken Lee-Rudolph
MotoGP – a dangerous, and very technical discipline of racing which requires its racers to be alert, concentrating and at peak physical and mental fitness in order to compete on their two-wheeled death machi– motorcycles. There have been some spectacular races in the past, and some equally as spectacular crashes – but does this high-octane sporting event make a smooth transition to console? Or does it skid off the tracks and fly into the sideboards? Let’s find out:
I had difficulty coming to grips with the riding mechanics of the title – and the road as I constantly veered off into the grassy abyss which surrounded the track; however, this was a personal issue, and not an error with the title’s mechanics, as the left analog stick – used for steering – simulates the way in which the rider applies weight on the bike in order to take corners. This meant two things (a) I couldn’t gradually make small pushes to correct my turning like I could in a driving game, which simulates a steering wheel, and (b) you had to hold a constant pressure as you turned through corners. This realistic approach allowed a very accurate representation of what motorcycle racing is all about, in terms of handling.
What further adds to this is the Pit segments, where you can scout the track and modify your bike. Scouting the track allows you a more detailed analysis of what you’re in for on the track, and allows you to plot your approach to it. Modifying your bike’s details, however, allows you to dramatically alter how your bike handles and moves. Therefore, a player can engineer a bike to suit their riding style and give them a distinct advantage over their opponents. This shows on the track, as your entire race can be changed by building a set of stats which suits your riding style and the track type as opposed to just going in blindly. When you get it wrong, however, your bike becomes a skidding mess, and you’ll make use of one of the title’s other positives – the physics engine – which will send your rider and your bike careering off the track and rolling around in the dirt.
The title has several game modes – Instant race, assigning you a random racer, track and event, Grand Prix, which allows you to choose from the 3 levels of Moto-prefixed racing, whether choosing to ride at MotoGP level with experienced riders like Jorge Lorenzo, or the legendary Valentino Rossi, or to ride in the Moto3 events with more obscure racers and Championship, which allows you to work your way up from amateur to MotoGP legend as your own rider in a linear and repetitive campaign, which will introduce you to all the title’s core mechanics. The other 2 game modes are split-screen and online play. The former is awesome to play with a friend, as long as you both have some inclination of what you’re doing, and the latter allows you to do the same, but with up to 11 random gamers online – unfortunately, this suffers from lag, and you’ll often find yourself lagging, and consequently getting involved in time-lapsing wreckages.
The only real, nearly game-breaking complaint I had is the lack of a dedicated tutorial level. The title is difficult to pick up for newcomers to the franchise, like myself, and the title would have benefited from showing us the ropes. Other than that, the only detractions from a superb, technical simulation is a spotty online mode and a lacklustre and linear campaign mode.
Graphically, the title doesn’t quite live up to the standard set by the gameplay. Character models and collision effects look and react well with one another, however, the crowds and environments look unerringly average. Regular frame rate drops occur, and once or twice I had trouble with textures loading slowly. The below-par visual performance is quite detrimental to the title, unfortunately.
Audio shines a little brighter than the visual performance, as the bikes sound distinctive and realistic, as do the crashes. However, what really holds this title back is the lack of a dedicated sound track (something a developer like EA Sports has mastered doing) and the shocking lack of ambient noise from massive crowds as you drive past to the sound of… Tyre skid? There are very few cheering fans outside the pit, even in the MotoGP series, and this makes the title lack a lot in terms of crowd realism.
The career mode is quite lengthy, there are plenty of unlockable riders and there are plenty of races and tracks to complete. Due to a highly satisfying gameplay experience, albeit one with a steep learning curve. These challenges will keep a player occupied for several hours, meaning the title has significant lasting appeal. Split-screen will extend the title further between friends and the online will work in the favour of a player with a fast internet connection. All-in-all, MotoGP will certainly be a worthy investment if you are an avid fan of the actual sport/hobby or a curious newcomer with an interest in motorcycling.
MotoGP 13 is a high quality simulation that is let down by some disappointing aspects. Despite my personal motorcycle shortcomings, the game mechanic is deep and rewarding, and further customisation is available to fine tune your bike to your liking. Several modes give the game variety, although the online modes should be avoided due to substantial lag ruining races.
Graphically, the title disappoints with some average environments and a good deal of visual glitches, despite the good looking character and bike models. The audio is slightly better, although the title could have benefited from a soundtrack that didn’t bring to mind the Spider-Man films, and desperately needs the ambient noise of crowds to add atmosphere to the races. The plethora of modes and unlockables will keep an avid racing fan busy for hours on end, and may even garner some interest from casual biking fans. All-in-all, MotoGP 13 looks below average, sounds average, but plays fantastically.
Lasting Appeal: 8/10
Predominantly reviewed on the Xbox 360.