The MotoGP franchise has seen a steady increase in quality over the years, with MotoGP 20 delivering one of the best games in the series to date thanks to some serious overhauls. However, as we move into the new generation of consoles and technology, does the MotoGP franchise’s jump to the PS5 and Xbox Series X warrant another seasonal purchase?
From the moment you boot up the game, it’s clear that MotoGP 21 has seen a spit-and-polish in comparison to its predecessors. There are a lot of reused assets and cut-scenes from MotoGP 20, but there are some refreshed animations, new details to the bikes, and some tweaks to the menus, which is refreshing in a genre where things can begin to look a little homogenous from one game to the next.
Of course, the on-track racing is the real test, and on the Playstation 5, MotoGP 21 runs like a dream. Speeding through the MotoGP 21 season tracks and venues in glorious 4K, 60 frames a second is quite the exhilarating rush, which finally captures the blistering sensation of speed and frenetic energy of the real-life event.
Another interesting addition this year is the mechanic of having to get back on your bike if you come short. There are no respawns here when you go sliding down the track — you’ll have to get up, run back to your bike, and get back in the race. Despite the consequences of crashing and losing your position in the race, it’s incredibly fun and a mystery as to why this element of racing hasn’t been integrated into these games prior. You can switch this mechanic off, but it definitely adds to the realism of the experience. However, even when it’s on, the fact that your AI competitors don’t jog back to their bikes and are able to just respawn instead is a bit of an oversight.
With the series essentially nailing the look and feel of the real-life MotoGP, the latest games are really about refining that and adding new elements to enhance the little moments on and off the track, with the utmost realism being the goal in mind. Some tweaks to the physics stand out this time around, as your bike feels and moves like it’s own entity, rather than being directly attached to your rider.
Real bike-nuts will get a huge kick out of tweaking everything from aerodynamics, electronics, engine power and consumption, chassis, and even petrol management. The great thing is, MotoGP 21 doesn’t just make it an aesthetic distraction of gauges and numbers, because with each tiny adjustment, you can actually feel the difference on the track.
And you’ll need to refine your bike and approach as racing (like the real thing) can be brutal if mistakes are made, but incredibly rewarding when done right. In this regard, MotoGP 21 prides itself on being a true simulation, requiring an understanding of your acceleration speed, braking capacity and distance, and a familiarity of the track you’re taking on. Thankfully, a new tutorial mode has been added to help newcomers familiarise themselves with the layered systems that exist in MotoGP 21.
While the action around the apexes is sublime, those who enjoy the culture and management off the track have a lot to indulge in too. The Managerial Career is finally back, whereby you have to run and coordinate your team, and while there’s a lot to get your head around, it delivers the most comprehensive look behind the curtains of MotoGP that you’ll find anywhere.
Add in the fact that you get all the official rosters and tracks of the 2021 Season, and MotoGP 21 really is a high point of the series. While the improvements are gradual year-on-year, you can’t fault the game itself as a standalone experience. MotoGP 21 has seen enough refinements and interesting add-ons to keep bike-fanatics invested for another year.
MotoGP 21 is available on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and PC.