It's hard to deny that Milestone makes good MotoGP games, and it does so year after year. The studio may not be of the highest calibre, but there is much to like about its output, especially if you're a motorsports fanatic. This year the developer has added new aspects that make the feeling of riding a rocket-fast bike even better. What's more, there is now a focus on taking care of your tyres and brakes during a race, and it works just like you think it does; if you drive like a madman and brake too hard before each corner, you will rip through your tyres and brakes, which results in poor performances or even a crash. Pit stops and tyre changes are a big part of this year's game, and there is both cosmetic and mechanical damage that adds to the realism, with some types of damage losing you more time than others.
Starting off, it will take a while before you get used to the game controls, particularly if you're brand new to the series. The motorcycle doesn't really want to turn the way you want it to and you have to have tremendous control over how hard your thumbs hold the sticks if you're going to get good. If this is your first MotoGP game, we recommend turning off the assistance right away and learning how to swing and brake properly without any guidance. You will probably get spanked by the competition at first, but it is the best way to learn. In addition, the assists work in a strange way that makes you actually go slower than if you turn them all off. The risk, as we see it, is that the game will be too difficult for newcomers to easily absorb, leading to it being played on the lowest difficulty level or simply abandoned altogether.
The new features include a refreshed lighting system, new asphalt, and an editor that lets you decorate both rider and motorcycle in all sorts of colourful attire (you can even change the entire team to give it a more personal feel). The new lighting engine makes the evening races look good. Really good. This also applies to the graphics in general: it all looks good. Well, most of it does; there are some things that we didn't appreciate so much. The crowd is lifeless, and if it rains, your visor will not get wet, not even a drop. Perhaps the strangest thing that happens is when you turn and the motorcycle is leaning as your head stays vertical inside the helmet and doesn't tilt how you'd expect. However, the motorcycles and the people on them look really fantastic on the track and there's a great deal of detail that helps make it look very realistic at times. The tracks, on the other hand, are not particularly impressive. Sometimes they look good, sometimes they look like they were taken from the previous console generation - it's a mixed bag, then.
If you want to get lost in something deeper, there is a career mode included. Here you can choose whether you want to start directly in MotoGP or if you want to fight your way up from Moto 2 or Moto 3. Back after a few years away is a team management aspect where you get to hire your agent. They, in turn, create new contracts and try to give you the salary you really deserve (or don't, as the case may be). You can also hire mechanics and data analysts to help boost your speed on the track. The higher the skill of an employee, the more he or she wants in terms of a salary, so it's important to spend your winnings wisely. You can also spend development points, which you get from both the team and by taking on challenges during the training sessions, to develop better parts for your bike. This is a very entertaining game mode, although we wished the computer-controlled riders on the other bikes were just a tiny bit smarter and would stop trying to run into us all the time! We also wanted more than one animation for when we were waiting in the pit or winning a race.
You can also choose to run a single race or championship on one of the 20 official tracks (and two historic courses) if you feel like finding out how good Valentino Rossi really is at Silverstone. Here you'll find all of the official riders and teams across all classes, thrown together with a set of classic riders and motorcycles. To unlock most of these, you need to play the Historic Mode, a situation that we think has changed for the worse. Previously, there were several challenges across different time periods where you unlocked new teams and riders as you passed each challenge. Now everything is more simple: there are three challenges per day (easy, medium and difficult) and each gives you a different number of points. You then collect these points and can unlock new motorcycles and riders with them. The problem is that there are only three randomly selected bikes and contestants to unlock per day, which means you can't unlock who you want, rather you have to wait until your favourite shows up. If you love Eddie Lawson from 1992, you may have to wait several days before you get the chance to unlock him, and we don't really understand the change. It's not a bad decision, per se, but we did think it was strange.
As we said in the introduction, there are new features in MotoGP 20 you'll like if you're a fan of the sport and if you know what you're doing you are guaranteed some serious fun. If, on the other hand, you're a total newcomer, you may want to think about whether you really want to spend several hours simply learning the ropes. This year's entry is not a game that you just sit down and conquer straight away. If you can ignore the steep learning curve, there is a lot here for the pure enthusiast, and overall we'd have to say that the series has never been in better shape.
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