It's time to hit the track in the latest instalment of Milestone's racing series.
Here we go again. Time to imagine that I am the virtual equivalent of Valentino Rossi. Unbeatable on the motorcycle where I take every single corner perfectly. It didn't take very long for me to realise that it is much harder than you might think, something I should have learned from playing the MotoGP series for multiple years. If you drive a car, as many do, it is almost a shock how different it is to steer a vehicle with four wheels compared to two. Techniques that can be used when controlling a car will not work at all in MotoGP. Braking at the last second and turning sharply will lead to the bike doing the opposite of what you would want. MotoGP 22 is a game that has a steep learning curve for newcomers, but it always feels rewarding when starting to grasp motorcycle racing in these games, and very much so in this year's title.
Because this is a series that is released every year, there will be no particularly big differences from year to year. While playing, I couldn't feel any difference from the game I played last year when it comes to physics or feel. But with the MotoGP series, you know what you're getting. Namely a competent MotoGP simulator experience. The game does what is expected of it, neither more nor less.
You can start in either Moto3 or Moto2 to fight your way up to the class where the very best compete, MotoGP, or you can simply start directly in the highest class. There is also an opportunity to build your small team around you with engineers and mechanics. These can unlock better performance on different parts. It's not a very deep part of the game, but it's at least something to do other than just run race after race. Because that's what it's all about in the end, to run a race and do as well as possible. But the fact is that there is a small mini-game here. It is possible to create a kind of farming team in the lower classes and to take care of them in a managerial position. You can hire or fire engineers, fix sponsors, and so on. On the whole, the career situation is the same as last year, good but not great.
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The newest addition, and perhaps the best part of this game, is a kind of story mode that follows the 2009 season. For those like me, who are not so well versed in the sport, the game does a great job of telling us what is so special about it, who the most important riders are, and what led up to this tough season. From Valentino Rossi's dominance, to Casey Stoner's successes and various rivalries and tough injuries that ruined the entire season. It's a really great introduction and I felt, right after the short introductory video, that I had a full understanding of who the four main characters (Rossi, Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedroza) were.
Motorsport fans will get a real kick out of this nostalgia and I think this is a game mode that most people will enjoy. We get to run in each race during the season and they are usually divided into several different chapters. In the first race, for example, we get to run five laps like Casey Stoner where it is important to keep first place and increase the margin to second to at least five seconds. When it's done, it jumps directly to Valentino Rossi earlier in the race where it is important to come second, and then on to Jorge Lorenzo who came third. Between the changes of riders, there are short presentations that tell why the riders are in this particular position. Everything is also supplemented with real clips from the races. This was a really good idea with over 50 minutes of real clips giving it a nice look back at the exciting season.
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If you would rather race online, it is possible to do so in lobbies of up to 12 players. There is also a split-screen mode for two players. When it comes to technology, it's a bit up and down. The graphics look really good in places, but the whole thing is reduced by the fact that other things look really ugly. Riders and motorcycles are nice, but things on the side of the track are not as nice at all. In addition, some overviewing images, such as before the races start, seem to come from the previous console generation. Unfortunately, the game also suffered from problems with the frame rate and it got a little choppy sometimes. I was playing on an Xbox Series S and a patch should have come right after this review was written. Hopefully this fixes the issues. Then there are the small things that are also annoying, like the uneven regulations system. Sometimes I was punished when I was no more than two centimetres off the track, but other times it was great to just skip a corner and take the shortcut across the grass.
MotoGP 22 finally does what is expected, namely to offer a good motorcycle feel. Unfortunately, some technical issues, along with the fact that it's too similar to last year's version, drag down the overall rating, but make no mistake, this is once again a good MotoGP-simulator.
7 / 10
Good motorcycle simulator, the story mode about the 2009 season is well-made nostalgia, riders and motorcycles look great, the career mode is deep.
Technical problems, no major update from last year, somewhat dull multiplayer.