I remember not too long ago discussing the overall quality of motorbike games and how it is really isn’t all the great. But over the last couple of years, Milestone Srl, a studio based in Italy have come along and made some quality racing sims for the motorbike fan. They’ve come a long way in making good quality video games that’s both a serious simulation racer, but also fun. The big thing is that they improve, almost every time, which brings me to MotoGP 20.
Two steps forward, one step back?
It’s almost like the developers took my criticisms of MotoGP 19 to heart as almost every issue I might have had of the game has been addressed in the latest annual release, MotoGP 20. The game runs incredibly smoothly with almost no framerate issues. The HDR issues I had with MotoGP 19 are gone and the game just looks and feels damn good. Racing and controls still feel good and while the assists is still very much an on-off switch, it does feel like you need to be a bit more involved in the racing.
The game has a very simple, yet elegant and pleasing presentation, with no fluff in the menus and weird social media crap tacked on. It is just pure and simple racing. You start off your career, pick your rider preset, pick your team and you’re off. You still have an option to pick between Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP, and the game gives you more options in terms of team management and contract negotiations, which is one of the most entertaining parts of the game.
You are not only the rider, but also need to manage team resources, pay salaries, hire and fire your Contracts Manager, and try and get the best synergy between the Chief Engineer and the Data Analyst. You can also allocate team members to different departments of research and development of the bike, and the more resources you throw at a specific area such as engine, chassis, aerodynamics and so on, but it is beneficial to assign them according to their strengths, and you also only have a limited amount of resource points available for each category. You gain these resource points in two ways, one is more research, and the other is testing out on the track.
Management of the team and resources is the most refreshing thing about MotoGP 20, and this is where the problem with this game comes in. Everything else is just so… last year. Everything, including how you go about your race weekend, the development tests you do, the free practice races, the qualifying and even the commentary is recycled from MotoGP 19. And sure, there’s not much difference from season to season and from race to race in real life, but having things work a bit differently in the game itself would’ve gone a long way.
There is no variation, the development tests you do doesn’t change, you don’t go to a test circuit to do stuff, nope, nothing just go to race weekend, do the Free Practices to set up the bike and get the development points, go do qualifying, go do the race, go back to managing your team and working your team and see if you can get a contract with a better team.
While the Career Mode certainly is the meat and potatoes of MotoGP 20, it is the other extras that often add to the overall value of the game. Unfortunately, it this too feels a bit lacklustre. You still have the basic Quick Mode, where you can create your own Grand Prix, or Championship as well as Online Mode and Time Trials. Historical Mode makes a return, but this also feels a bit of a letdown, as the challenges you can do seems to be on a daily rotation (because all games must have that now), and the options are a lot less varied.
As is often the case, I couldn’t test the Online Mode, since no lobbies were available and nobody wanted to join mine, so I’m not sure if it was available yet seeing as I played the game before launch.
As I mentioned, on a technical level, MotoGP 20 is truly fantastic looking, and I had high hopes when I fired it up for the first time. The game runs smoothly, the physics work really well and even the wet weather system looks really really nice. All of this is wrapped up in a very slick and nice working presentation.
A stripped-back game of something that should be better
MotoGP 20, almost feels like a copy-paste job, and it is tremendously disappointing. Fans of the sport and the series will undoubtedly still enjoy it, and probably appreciate the improvements.
I’m not sure if the recent viral outbreak in Italy and especially Milan, where Milestone Srl is based, had an impact on the development of MotoGP 20, and if that has any bearing on why the game feels so bare, but it is clear some compromises were made and it shows. Overall, the game really isn’t bad. in fact, in some instances, it makes some improvements, but hopefully, they can bounce back and make some stellar improvements again next year.