02nd Jun2021

‘MotoGP 21’ Review (Xbox Series S)

by Phil Wheat

I’ve been on something of a driving game kick recently – I’ve been back and played Burnout Paradise Remastered on both Switch and Xbox Series S; cruised the streets in Forza Horizon 4 on the Xbox Series S; had a blast replaying Horizon Chase Turbo – even on my iPad(!); and had a surprising amount of fun racing monster trucks round courses in Monster Truck Championship. Which is why I jumped at the chance to try my hand at a bike racing game with MotoGP 21!

Now, to be fair, I haven’t really played a motorbike RACING game since the 16-bit era. I’ve played my fair share of Trials games and the various knock offs that spun off that franchise. But an actual racer? It has to be at least 10 years (probably longer) since I’ve played one of those! Why? Well I’ll be honest, I was never really any good at motorbike racers… racing cars? Yes, that I can deal with – usually because I tend to ignore real-world physics when racing cars around a track but motorbike racing typically requires actual precision and not just caning the throttle and never hitting the brake! It’s probably why I love the Trials games and stuff like Road Rash back in the day – you can make a million mistakes and get back up and “racing” without issues or limitations on gameplay.

Which is also why I had such a terrible time with MotoGP 21. Because the game requires you to do EVERYTHING that I hate in racing games: control, balance, using the brakes, taking your time, making sure your bike is equipped correctly for each race… Basically, lets be honest, I tend to HATE racing simulators. Arcade racers? Love them? Simulators? Less so. And MotoGP 21 is most definitely a racing simulator. It reminded me of the regular Forza Motorsport titles, the DiRT Rally games – the types of games where you have to drive a car, not throw in round the tracks as I like to do!

Right off the bat, it’s safe to say MotoGP 21 looks stunning, especially on a current-gen console such as the Xbox Series S (and I’m sure it will look better on the Series X and PS5) but I couldn’t really appreciate the visuals as much as I’d like to, mainly because I spent 90% of my time in this game crashing and burning on each and every corner! To be fair to the game, there are settings you can change to add AI assists – making accelerating, cornering and especially braking easier. Or so the game says. I must be truly TERRIBLE at this game as no matter what assists i used I couldn’t help but keep crashing – I couldn’t lean into a corner without sliding across the tarmac each and every time. Which meant I had to constantly brake into corners, reducing the adrenaline-pumping speeds at which the game plays. Which I’d say defeats the purpose of a racing game. Right?

Now I’ve read other reviews of MotoGP 21 that state this game is “probably the most beginner-friendly MotoGP game in years… the effort to make it slightly less impenetrable for newbies is a very good move (IGN)” but I have to disagree. The tutorial was laborious to get through IMHO and left me just wanting to get on with the game. And when I did get on with it I had no fun whatsoever. I honestly felt like this game wasn’t made for video gamers, rather those who take motorbike racing far to seriously – the kind of “players” who can’t get on a real bike and want as close an experience to the real thing they can in a video game. Which, frankly, left me cold.

Not even a rewind feature could save MotoGP 21 for me, honestly. Going forward I’ll stick to arcade racers.

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