While most racing games have players controlling powerful four-wheeled vehicles that pack hundreds of horsepower under the hood, I’ve always had a soft spot for titles that starred their two-wheeled counterparts. Controlling a bike is a completely different experience. Not only do the vehicles rely more on finesse, they also make taking a simple turn into a much more exciting affair as riders lean deep into them to the point where they are almost horizontal with the ground. It’s absolutely thrilling to watch a skilled rider be millimeters off the ground, and barely avoid crashing, in order to overtake their opponent.
That’s the sort of action I was looking forward to in Moto GP 17, and Milestone S.r.l.’s motorcycle simulation delivers on that front. Much like in real life, rider posture plays a large part of how the action unfolds, as taking a turn well can be the difference between finishing on the podium or losing 10 positions due to a crash. When players create their own rider they get to choose from four separate riding postures, with each of them handling slightly differently. This decision early on won’t make-or-break the game for anyone, but they’ll have to get used to the choice they made.
The on-track racing, which is predictably Moto GP 17‘s bread-and-butter, feels really good, if ultimately unspectacular. I didn’t feel as if there was as much minutia to the racing to Milestone’s other motorcycle games, as Ride had me actually controlling my rider’s posture, and MXGP forced me to think about taking jumps. There’s just less to the action here. That isn’t exactly a bad thing, as the racing is still fast-paced, and there are 16 courses filled with different corners to master, but I was left wanting a little more control mechanically.
Live the Career
The biggest draw for me was the career mode, which allowed me to take my rider all the way from the Moto GP 3 series to the main league, where I could race against legends like Valentino Rossi. It starts out with a lot of promise, as it started off with a quick screen that explained that I was controlling a rookie driver trying to get his first contract, and that I had to perform well in the next few races in order to secure one. I did just that, and then my in-game email never bothered to alert me to anything.
There was no sense of there actually being a career, and eventually it just became race after race. Even when I won the championship, my absent agent didn’t even bother to tell me congratulations. Despite these shortcomings, the solo career mode does work well as a way to get used to the game’s different tracks. Players can sign with new teams (and change divisions if they’re performing well) after every six races, and I had a good time going through the ranks.
The other solo offering, which is labelled as a managerial mode, is far more in-depth. This is essentially a racing version of the franchise modes that sports games like Madden and NHL offer up. I got to control an entire racing team, which meant I was hiring riders to drive for me (while also competing myself), reinvesting my profits to develop better bikes, and watching my team slowly improve. This is definitely a slower paced mode, as it takes quite some time to earn the credits to purchase bikes that’ll give players access to the more difficult leagues, but it’s much better than the other offerings. There’s still room for improvement as a managerial sim, though, as it’d be nice to simulate races (you are hiring racers after all), and for actions (like sending your team to a photoshoot) to be shown rather than merely mentioned. Milestone is close to having a really spectacular mode, but it’s not quite there yet.
MotoGP 17 Review (PS4) – PlayStation LifeStyle
Overall, Moto GP 17 is a pretty content rich title, as it goes above and beyond in offering a bevy of legendary racers and old bikes, but I was a bit disappointed to see one of last year’s best modes disappear. Last year’s title focused on the career of Valentino Rossi, and while there’s multiple versions of the racing veteran in the game, there’s nothing quite as cool as getting to relive historic moments in a game. A replacement offering would’ve really been a cherry on top. Still, there’s plenty of ways to race here (including online co-op and splitscreen racing), so it’s not a huge knock against it.
The other main disappointment comes from the game’s graphical performance. Moto GP 17 doesn’t look bad by any means, and it’s HDR support on the PS4 Pro makes it look pretty good, but it simply can’t compare to the best of the genre. Games like Forza and Driveclub look considerably better, and this was particularly noticeable when I rode on tracks while it was raining. The dangerous excitement of wet pavement just didn’t transfer over visually, and that’s a bummer.
Milestone S.r.l. is one of the most consistent racing game developers, and Moto GP 17 is yet another success for Italian studio. The thrills of cutting a tight turn close and overtaking an opponent are replicated faithfully, and the racing provides plenty of fun. It may lack any distinctive feature that helps it truly stand out from the pack, but fans of motorcycle racing can’t go wrong here.
Review code for MotoGP 17 provided by the publisher. Reviewed on PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.