When it comes to motorbike games it generally receives the short end of the stick when compared to its four-wheeled counterparts. Yes, there’s been some classics in the past such as Excite Bike, Manx TT and Road Rage, but those were all arcade classics. It’s the simulation bike games that’s had a rough ride. Until now.
I’m not going to act as if I’m the guru of motorbike games. In fact, to the contrary, what I know of bike simulation games is a scary prospect. I’m a massive F1 fan – I support McLaren (yes, I know) and don’t miss a race. I’ve been to a Super Bike event at Kyalami and that’s as far as my knowledge of the sport stretches. MotoGp 14 has all but converted me to not only enjoy the game, but completely fall in love with the sport.
Once your PS4 sucks the disc in you’re tasked to duplicate yourself in the game. Create your name, nickname, choose your helmet, boots, gloves and your lucky number and, once done, you’re whisked off to a tutorial (that can be skipped if you’re a veteran). You’ll be taught the basics of the sport such as cornering and braking, as well as how to make use of traction control, which can be altered by a press of the up or down button on the D-Pad. When you get to grips with things it’s time to remove your training wheels for the real thing.
Instant Race takes you straight into the action whereby a random venue, team and racing conditions await you. In Grand Prix mode you’ll experience a MotoGP weekend, whereby you play as any of the current mix of drivers or teams, but it’s in MotoGP Career that you’ll be spending most of your time. Not only because it’s an opportunity to grow through the ranks playing as yourself, but you’ll get to gradually improve your biking techniques.
Seeing as you start your first season off as a rookie you’ll be tasked to set a time on-track. Once set you’ll receive offers from various teams. Select your team and you’re ready to take on your first class – Moto 3. As with real life drivers you’ll be spending quite a bit of time in your trailer. Here you can change up your appearance, check up on season status and stats and see what’s incoming on your race calendar. Once you’ve satisfied your curiosity you’ll go straight into the first race which moves your attention to the garage.
Here you can talk to the engineer, who is a great help in understanding the sport and the various rules. You can check up the times on the current session taking place and work on the development of your bike. For every track you complete you receive a data pack that’s used to upgrade your bikes engine, brakes, chassis or suspension. This is a very simple task in Moto 3 and 2, but not quite the case in MotoGP as your bike hungers for more power.
Moto 3 is simply the best place to start for a newbie such as myself. By the time you’re hitting the apexes on the various corners to perfection you’ll ultimately think as yourself as some kind of racing God. Best also to keep the racing line on, as well as the various assists such as braking. An overconfident player will see him- or herself rolling in the gravel. Thankfully MotoGP 14 includes the rewind feature that’s now an expected feature to any racing game. Hold your L1 button to rewind time and press the X button to retry a corner.
The handling of the bikes in MotoGP 14 is what makes the overall experience such an enjoyable one. The developers have somehow got the balance right between extreme simulation and fun arcade bits. In Moto 3 the bikes are just about glued to the corners, whereby Moto 2 is less forgiving and Moto GP bikes are all about precision when it comes to using your L2 and R2 triggers to accelerate or brake. Turn off all your aids, up the difficulty and I can assure any veteran that it will provide a considerable challenge.
For every race you’ll receive XP points to help you level up to Level 65. Why level up? When you hit a new level you’ll receive new items such as Drivers, Bikes, Teams, helmet’s and one of the coolest features in the game – HD footage of MotoGp 2013. There are also modes to relive parts of MotoGP history (called Challenge the Champions), Time Attack and… Safety Car Mode. Yes, you get to drive around a track as a safety car, which handles like a tank. There’s also online as well as split-screen multiplayer modes, which is a stupid amount of fun. It’s really the holy grail of MotoGP games. There is however a little problem.
MotoGP 14 looks like a PS3 game on your PS4. The textures are bland and the detail is lacklustre for a console so powerful. The menu music might also drive you insane after a short stint as it’s the same tune being looped over and over again. It’s a small price to pay for a game that finally puts a bike simulation on the top step of the racing genre podium. If you’re a MotoGP fan this is a masterpiece made for you, if like me you’re new to the sport it’s likely that it will race its way into your heart.