MotoGP 2013 PS3 review – Everything you ever wanted to know about eating tarmac

Here because you remember a time when MotoGP titles were the go-to games for in-store demos at your local Electronics Boutique? You might want to sit down for this. Developer Milestone Interactive isn’t really about quick fixes of lunatic speed in an arcade environment, so if you’re hoping for Burnout with knee pads you can pretty much pack up and go home now. Instead, the Italian sim studio relaunches the series after a two-year hiatus by taking it in the opposite direction to its predecessor Capcom – which was all about the safety-wheels. With every realism option let loose, this might be the hardest racer on PS3.

MotoGP 2013 PS3 review

For the most part it’s the kind of difficulty you respect, nodding your head sagely when you’re propelled into the air after slipping out on a corner because it seems like a thing that would happen if you tried it with such abandon in real life. Corner entries and exits need to be respected like you’re riding through buttered Mecca, especially with manual rider positioning, independent front and rear brakes (with corresponding controls to confuse a jazz flautist’s digits) and full simulation physics model unleashed. Other riders demand to be given elbow room, too, as your subsequent fist-waggling and recovery animations after even a mere bump with an adversary all cost you time and compromise your balance.

Someone needed to shake things up. In two-wheeled racers you usually feel like you’re racing a different, much faster category of bike to everyone else. Victory is certain if you can hold on to the handlebars long enough, so the race is really between you and your persistent off-track excursions. Other riders are demoted to a supporting cast of mobile checkpoints to chase, and that robs the experience of any authenticity.

If you’re prepared to put in unspeakable hours of practice and set the options accordingly, MotoGP 13 offers a much more convincing race. There’s a terrifying first-person helmet cam to get to grips with that conveys 200mph most graphically. At longer race distances, riders break from a close-knit caterpillar of obliging morons and instead form groups spread over the circuit, and on higher AI difficulty settings staying on the bike isn’t enough to guarantee the top podium slot. It’s fascinating to play this way, but you could probably learn Swedish and write a book on applied maths in your new second language before posting a pole lap.

There’s a terrifying first-person
helmet cam to get to grips with that
conveys 200mph most graphically

Milestone pulls off a shameless F1 2012 impersonation to build a game around its riding model – from the Flashback-esque rewind function tand a deep career mode that plays out like F1’s to the nearest email job offer. MotoGP 13 has the added curio of guiding you through the lower Moto3 and Moto2 categories and starting you out as a wildcard rider, which means when you finally hit the big league of MotoGP, you feel like you’ve earned it, damn it. Here MotoGP 13 is at its most enjoyable and substantial. But it’s not quite enough.

This is because it highlights a distinct lack of polish by shuffling up next to F1 2012, and because the whole venture is weighed down by a sup-par engine that struggles to muster post-PS2 visuals and convincing sound. You only have to tackle the infamous Corkscrew chicane at Laguna Seca and watch the ground wobble as the camera tries to keep you visible to feel that MotoGP 13’s underlying bedrock isn’t all that solid.

And if you rein in all the difficulty options, you’re back to being on a superpowered bike next to passive competitors, with handling that loses its satisfying weight. It’s a subversion of the norm that MotoGP 13’s so focused on realism that it can’t pull back to produce a palatable three-lap dash for the casual crowd, but no less frustrating. This is a game that understands the hardcore racer, and that it’s important to choose the font of your bike number. But it’s also a game that believes its handling to be so compelling it doesn’t need to dress up nicely to achieve, say, an 8/10. It isn’t.


Our Score

Score: 7