Hands-On Preview: MotoGP 14 – Like Taming a Steel Horse
There are a lot of racing games out there but very few of them are purely centered around motorcycles. Because of this, MotoGP 14 instantly stood out to me at the recent Bandai Namco event. This isn’t the type of racer that we’re used to seeing so I was definitely curious to see how it played and how much fun it was. The results were a little mixed.
I’ll just come out and say it: this game has a very steep learning curve. This is a simulation game which means that it tries to replicate how riding a motorcycle actually is like. I myself was in a motorcycle accident when I was a kid so I can attest to how hard it is to control one of these things. In that sense, this game captures the sense of trying to keep a bike under control perfectly. This means that if you aren’t careful, you will fall off your bike consistently. It was very difficult to stay on the bike and I spent more time getting back on it during my first try around the track than I did actually racing.
Thankfully, the game has a lot of options to help people ease into the experience. Things like auto-brakes, traction control and steering can be set to automatic so that you won’t be kissing the dirt as much. These settings sacrifice the bike’s speed but they are good for helping you actually stay in a race. It was a wise decision for the developers to add in all of these aids seeing as how motorcycle simulation titles are rare and how difficult this particular title is.
Once I got a handle of the bike, I saw just how deftly crafted the controls are. There was a good sense of speed that I felt while racing. The turns were the things that kept messing me up but at the same time, I was compelled to try to master them. It felt really good to race past the other riders who (thankfully) weren’t cheap and didn’t tried to knock me off the road.
One thing I learned was to keep the bike as centered as possible, even when turning. The bike has a center of gravity that’s best not to overshoot if you don’t want to end up on the pavement. Even when a particular side of me was very close to touching the ground I made sure to keep the bike centered. The game does a good job of helping you feel when you’re about to lose control so if you’re aware of it you’ll (hopefully) not fall off the motorcycle as much.
The build I played was on the PlayStation 4 and it looked nice. I wasn’t blown away or anything but the game isn’t displeasing to the eye. I played on a course which took place during the daytime so I was able to see all of the details in the world. The asphalt looked pretty real and the clouds in the sky looked convincing as well. The grass wasn’t impressive though as it was basically just a green texture on the outskirts of the track. Overall this isn’t the most impressive looking racer but it gets the job done in the visual department.
MotoGP 14 is a game for serious motorcycle racing aficionados. I applaud the developers for creating a racing game that’s different from what we’re used to but I fear that the game’s steep learning curve may put off a lot of people. I think that the assists in the game should alleviate some of the scariness of playing it though and that should be good enough to capture a broader audience. Given my short time with this game, I can tell that there is a deep and rewarding experience waiting for people with the patience to learn all of its various intricacies.