Moto GP 21 isn’t big on features, but the racing experience is great whether you’re an experienced player or someone new who’s looking to get into the sport.
- Engaging handling
- Accessible enough for those new to the sport
- Career Mode engages for the most part
- Not much content
- Not the most helpful tutorial system
- UKRRP: £44.99
- Managerial CareerAssemble a team by creating a crew, picking staff and managing upgrades
- Long Lap PenaltyBreak the rules and pay the penalty
- PlatformsXbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
Milestone’s Moto GP series returns for another outing with designs on being the most authentic and complete experience of the sport so far.
When it comes to motorsports, I’m more four-wheeled than two, so I’m approaching Milestone’s series from the perspective of someone who is not overly familiar.
I’ve watched Moto GP and know my Marquez from my Binders but can’t say I keep up with it as regularly as others. As someone who’s not used to the handling and rules, how does Moto GP 21 turn out?
- Not many game modes to choose from
- Tutorials aren’t great for newcomers
- Career mode sees some fun team management
If you’ve played any modern ‘sim’ racer, there’s little unfamiliar about the setup. Compared to Codemaster’s F1 series, Moto GP 21 doesn’t feature a breadth of modes to dive into, though it could be argued this is a positive in terms of focus.
What you do get are a selection of modes: online, quick and career. Quick Modes feature Grand Prix, Time Trial or Championship race. The first is a race weekend chosen at random, the second involves pounding the fastest lap at any course, while the third gives control over an existing driver through the course of a championship. All basically what you’d expect.
For these modes you can choose drivers from Moto GP to the Red Bull sponsored Rookies Cup. Or dip back into the past to drive 800 4-stroke, 990-stroke and 500 2-stroke bikes. That’s nice if you want to play as legends like Casey Stoner, Troy Bayliss or simply want to cycle through Valentino Rossi’s eclectic haircuts over the years.
If you’re still finding your race legs there are several tutorials (basic and advanced) to familiarise yourself with the handling, bike management and penalty system. It took me what felt like forever to complete the long lap penalty, and a fair few of the advanced sessions were unsurprisingly beyond my novice skill level.
But you don’t need to complete the tutorials, which aren’t particularly helpful in getting you up to speed as different types of bikes are used. That didn’t help me strike a consistency in terms of handling or what to expect, and left me a little frustrated.
Instead, once you’ve got a decent idea of the handling head straight to Career Mode, which has more in common with Codemaster’s Dirt Rally as it combines driving and team management in a similar way.
You have your own personal manager – he or she will look to secure a better contract from your current team or find one from another – and you can outfit your team with technical staff who collect data from your on-track development tests to improve the bike’s performance.
They’re governed by staff ‘synergy’ – the more you have, the more research data you collect to feed into bike development. You’ll need to hire staff with the necessary stats and overlapping skills to wring more productive results.
Then you’ve got your headquarters where you can focus on the development of your bike in terms of the engine, frame, aerodynamics and electronics – though if you start as I did at Moto3, aerodynamics and electronics areas are locked off (not the case if you start at Moto GP).
Management is uncomplicated and mostly involves assigning staff to develop upgrades or find new technical staff (at extra cost) to improve that synergy and reap more rewards from your work trackside. It adds a bit of depth but not a huge amount, so even if you’re relatively unfamiliar like me, Career Mode keeps it simple with few complications.
- Steep lurving curve, but very rewarding
- Motorbike controls are fantastic and realistic
- Great variety of circuits
Really, it’s the racing that’ll be of most concern, and while the handling is a challenge to get used to, it’s a challenge I thoroughly enjoyed.
I can see some getting frustrated, but there are enough assists to help (optimal braking lines and trajectory etc). However, I’d say Moto GP 21 improves as you gain confidence and disable them, rewarding you with the satisfaction of learning tracks and nailing apexes.
Riding the bike is almost a mini-game within itself, see-sawing from side to side as you optimise every corner, modulate the throttle and brake to find the best line. When it works, Moto GP 21 is a flowing and thrilling racer.
I was terrible at the beginning, barely making it around a corner without crashing. But after sticking through and figuring out to keep momentum, I was whipping into corners, knee scraping the ground trying not to slide or upset the bike. If you do crash, there’s always the rewind button.
Handling offers great feedback on a gamepad, so you always have an idea of when you’re at the limits of the bike’s grip. Even when I made a mistake, I didn’t feel the game overtly punished me – I knew what I did wrong and made changes. In that respect Moto GP 21 is a pretty fair racer.
And races can be challenging depending on the difficulty as the AI racers aren’t afraid to tuck in beneath you and force you wide, causing a crash or risking a trip to the gravel. Races aren’t long either at 20 laps max, but the concentration needed means you’re ‘on it’ for most of it.
The circuits are excellent whether it’s the twisty, fast-paced nature of Jerez, the undulations of Portimao or the long winding corners of Assen. Each track has a character and each one is a challenge to figure out.
Presentation and visuals
- Not much variety with cutscenes and dialogue
- Graphics look great on PS4, especially with HDR
- Realistic audio is incredibly immersive
If there’s one aspect about Milestone’s search for authenticity, it’s the presentation of Career Mode. It’s the same cutscenes and the same monotonous dialogue from the commentator – whenever you enter the pits, he’ll announce “they must be thinking about some changes” – and each weekend feels the same. You could say that about any racer, but even F1 2021 adds some variety in terms of challenges, tasks, and rivals. There’s none of that here.
The game does look good on the PS4. There is a slight stutter at times and some mild tearing too, though. The game also supports HDR if you’ve got a compatible TV or display if you’re after that bit more punch and vibrancy.
Fans of the sport will enjoy the audio too, especially the tone of the engines. The difference between a Moto3 bike and Moto GP is night and day in terms of its characteristics.
- Custom-made online matches are good fun
- Online modes are thin on the ground
In terms of online content, there are public and private lobbies, as well as the Race Director mode where you can set the type of sessions, weather conditions and even assign penalties. If you’re an eSports racer, the Rising Stars series is now open for registration.
That’s it in terms of online racing though. It’s rather slim and, like the career mode, lacks variety. I can see this only appealing to those who really want to challenge themselves against others online.
Should you buy it?
If you enjoy Moto GP: For Moto GP fans, I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t want to play this game. Just for the racing experience alone, Moto GP 21 is a very enjoyable simulation.
If you want more content:
Compared to other games, MotoGP 21 isn’t stocked with content. Online is a bit threadbare and Career Mode is rather basic – though I’d say that places more of an emphasis on the racing itself.
Considering I’d never played a MotoGP game before, I’d say Milestone has put in a terrific effort into not only replicating the sport but doing so in an engaging way. It may seem a touch intimidating at first, and as a package it feels rather slim, but ride it out and the racing and handling are its best assets.
MotoGP 21 can be tough but it’s all the better for it; as a racing experience it’s one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and turned me into more of a fan than I was before.
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Yes, this game is available on PS5 and Xbox Series S & X consoles.
No it doesn’t.
Yes it is.