It’s been a couple of years since we last reviewed a MotoGP game. A whole console generation, in fact. MotoGP 14 is here to put the PlayStation 4 through its paces. Has anything substantial been added to the series, or is it merely a roster update and spit shine?
If you’ve ever dreamed of straddling state-of-the-art motorcycles but are strapped on cash, MotoGP 14 tries to fit the bill. Three leagues of motorcycle racing are available, including Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP, which have increasingly more powerful bikes which each require different tactics to master. You can race with standard, semi-pro, and pro level of physics, which makes the bikes control increasingly more realistic. Only choose the pro level if you really know how to handle the bikes, because it takes a steady hand and a lot of patience to control these beasts accurately with assists turned off. MotoGP 14 intends to be a simulator, not an arcade game.
MotoGP 14 Review (PS4) -- PlayStation LifeStyle
Game Modes Galore
Beyond the basic Instant Race mode, there is a Grand Prix, which allows you to set up a custom race with various mixtures of professional racers, including champions of past seasons. There’s also a Championship mode, which allows you to run through a single season in an attempt to come out on top. You can choose the order of the tracks that you will race in, and can create a championship as long or short as you desire. There’s also Real Events 2013, which tasks you with altering history by preventing certain events from occurring which happened during the 2013 season, and Challenge the Champions, where you have to beat the best at their own game. Finally, a Time Attack and Safety Car mode round out the group. The Safety Car mode is a chance to drive the BMW M4 Coupe, which is the safety car that comes out in the event of an accident to slow down the riders. You can compete in an online leaderboard. It’s a nice break from the two-wheeled action, though by no means a Gran Turismo level car simulator. Suffice to say, there are a lot of modes to play through.
All of these modes seem to be sideshows compared to the main attraction, the Career Mode. Here, you start out in the humble Moto3 league, which is akin to minor-league baseball — you’re a professional, but not yet in “The Bigs.” Your team will give you various goals, such as finishing at or above a certain position, or beating your teammate. Perform well, and you attract the attention of other, higher-ranked teams. You’ll unlock better riding gear as well. Instead of earning money, you earn fans and bike parts. Collect enough fans to unlock new characters and media assets (photos and videos of real-life racing, to be viewed anytime from your in-game trailer’s flatscreen television), and collect enough parts to upgrade one aspect of your bike. Since there is no money involved, the choice to join a new, better team becomes pretty easy when you’re basically guaranteed to have a better bike.
The career mode in MotoGP 14 is about as immersive as the game gets. The presentation is a bit lacking. There’s a single announcer, who only speaks before and after a race, using canned messages that can fit into any start/end/win/loss situation. It’s better than no voice work at all, but more effort here could go a long way. There’s some more immersion-breaking designs strewn throughout the game while actually racing, as well. While you have the usual third-person camera options, there are also behind-the-dash and helmet cameras. The only difference between those last two is that the helmet camera has an overlay designed to look like the inside of a helmet, and all noises are slightly muffled. There is no wind sound effect, nor heavy breathing of your player, nor tunnel vision that is often experienced at such high speeds and G-forces. It’s simply an overlay on top of the pre-existing behind-the-dash camera. This is a shame, because at first I was excited to see an in-helmet camera, only to be disappointed at the lack of any immersion-creating visual or auditory effects.
Oh, there’s a multiplayer component as well, but it’s definitely rough around the edges. There’s a handful of modes, including championships, but it is a challenge to find enough players to ride with. You can start a race with as few as two players, thankfully. Once any race gets going, expect to see hilarious lag compensation as the opposing player characters rapidly float away from their bikes as they speed away. Something is seriously wrong with the netcode in MotoGP, and the end result is that although you are technically competing in real-time, it really doesn’t feel like it.
MotoGP 14 is a competent MotoGP racing game. Milestone S.rl. knows their target demographic, and mostly knows what they want to see. There’s not much fluff to this game; it’s simply you, a bike, and the track. Crank up the physics, and the road becomes less forgiving. Turn off assists and crank the physics up, and you better know the track like the back of your hand, or else you will perform poorly, crash, or worse. However, racing games are held to a very high immersion standard these days, and MotoGP 14 fails to do so in several key areas. The graphics don’t impress very much, despite higher-resolution textures being favored over a higher frame rate. The cockpit view still feels just like a floating camera, and all the bikes sound identical. The career mode is a fun way to progress from the weaker Moto3 bikes to the scary-powerful MotoGP ones, at least, but even that experience is a bit dulled as you don’t earn money, only fans and parts. At a full asking price of $60, this is a tough sell to anyone who is not a hardcore MotoGP/AMA fan.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.