It seems almost all of the games from Milestone keep coming to me. Which is just fine. A funny thing about Milestone is that their games can be a little hit or miss. At least as far as the masses are concerned. Personally I consider them to be quite capable of delivering on their designs most of the time. My feelings on Milestone as a developer aside, I now get to bring you my review for the latest entry of MotoGP, MotoGP 18. It’s been quite some time since I’ve played any games in the MotoGP franchise. MotoGP 2 on the original Xbox, if I’m honest.
That installment was given to us from Climax Brighton and THQ. Aside from playing a few demos in the early days of the Xbox 360, MotoGP 2 was the last entry that I put significant time into. So let’s get into how Milestone’s take on the series is. Well, it’s Grand Prix motorcycle racing. The physics and gameplay are quite different from Milestone’s Monster Energy Supercross. The presentation is quite good. It’s almost like watching a TV broadcast in between races. You start your career as a Red Bull rookie and work your way up the ranks to the Premier class of MotoGP.
I personally have a tendency to make things as real as possible in the settings so I opted to do the full week experience before each race as well as having the race length at 100%. However, the range of options can make the game go from feeling pretty arcade-style to almost a pretty good sim. In this regard Milestone does a good job of making the game accessible to beginners and veterans alike. The full week experience consists of a number of practice sessions which I used to learn the track.
It comes in handy to knowing when your braking points are, where your trouble spots are, and how your opposition handles certain sections. The practice sessions can also be used to fine tune your motorcycle if you so choose. A number of adjustments can be made in the pit, including tire compound, suspension, steering, gear ratio, and brakes. Adjustments are made using a slider system similar to the tuning options in Forza Motorsport. After the practice sessions comes the qualifier and finally, the race.
I found that the default setting for the AI was quite capable at giving me a good challenge. I’m not really a fan of the default controller configuration however, and had to experiment a little before I was comfortable with how my Elite Controller was set up. Once I had my controls locked in, my time on the track was quite enjoyable. For the record, I mapped my brakes to the paddles on the back of my Elite Controller. Front brake on the top left paddle, and rear brake top right. This is just the way it made the most sense to me in my head. You may choose to map yours differently.
I was a little surprised at just how forgiving the game is as far as contact with other riders is concerned. I remember from MotoGP 2 that the slightest bump or nudge with another rider would quickly cause a wipeout. In MotoGP 18 though, it seems I have more trouble with brake control rather than collisions with other bikes. This is just a small difference I noticed. If I had kept up with the franchise on a more regular basis I might not have noticed that at all. Or it could be that my style of racing has changed over the years. Anyway, my overall impression of the game is that it plays well.
Once you’re comfortable with the controls, that is. The game comes with a total of 19 tracks, including the new Buriram International Circuit in Thailand, all of which have been drone scanned to relay authenticity. Rounding this off is the inclusion of over 100 riders, which is impressive however you look at it. There’s a notable improvement to the particle effects, weather effects, as well as the effects on track. This alone brings unique challenges to the fields of play depending on the scenario of each race, which I must admit, is a nice touch indeed.
In the visual department I have to be honest and say that I was a little underwhelmed. There’s little improvement over MotoGP 18’s predecessors. I don’t know the technical ins and outs of game development but you have to agree with me that some games for the Xbox One look incredible, whereas others look like they were simply ported from the 360. MotoGP 18 falls somewhere in the middle. The visuals should have been better in my opinion. In the sound department I found the menu music to be catchy. Audio effects trackside we’re spot-on as far as background noise and commentary go.
I could have actually used a little more in the commentary to be fair. It would have really enhanced that TV broadcast presentation the developer seems to have been going for. As far as the bikes themselves go, I’m not a gear-head or aficionado of any sort. All the bikes sound like angry weed-whackers to me. I just don’t have the ear to comment on their realism one way or the other. With most racing games I find the replay value to be quite high as most have a robust online multiplayer community. I anticipate that MotoGP 18 will be no different in this regard.
MotoGP 18 offers a refined and diverse motorcycle racing experience that comes with some solid physics and decent elements of play. There’s plenty of options to tune the gameplay however you see fit, which ultimately makes for a very deep and accessible racer. The visuals are hardly impressive and there’s certainly room for improvement, but on the whole, this is one of the better titles in the series so far.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.