MotoGP 2021 is an awesome racing sim that will appeal to fans of the real-world sport and anyone else prepared to put the hours in. It looks gorgeous, handles superbly, but will likely battle to win new converts.
As is the case with Monster Energy Supercross 4: The Official Game, MotoGP 2021 is something of a niche title on consoles and PCs. The light is on and burning brightly for the masses to be sure – otherwise, why would a game like this exist? But for novices and noobs, this is a hard ask.
For starters, if you’re not already a dedicated fan of the sport – you know, you watch it on TV and set your recording devices to catch up on the races in eye-bleeding time-zones – MotoGP 2021 is something of an odd duck.
You’ll need a couple of laps
This isn’t to say that it’s not a game worth playing – far from it – but newbies are at the mercy of the tutorial, which isn’t exactly welcoming. This isn’t the rule of law across racing sims. For proof of this simply download Gran Turismo: Sport and give it a whirl. That game’s tutorial is the gold standard in this genre of games; engaging, intuitive and rewarding, Gran Turismo: Sport’s tutorial envelopes the player with a sense of accomplishment from the very beginning.
By contrast, MotoGP 2021’s tutorial will see new players land on their backside within a couple of laps. Those not already invested in the sport may be forgiven for quitting early.
But those players who are prepared to put the work in will find a game that’s very rewarding to master. Once they get a handle on juggling speed with physics, MotoGP 2021 plonks its hooks in players, taking them from an empty track where they’re riding solo, to races in which they’re encouraged to charge to the head of the pack.
There’s something deliciously tense about the on-track experience in MotoGP 2021; when you’re chasing the lead rider, every inch of the track, every tight corner, every time you choose to throttle or brake is a war you’re waging for pole position. When you’re out in front, the stakes are far higher because the pack are right behind you and you can only clock them in your rearview. The action in MotoGP 2021 exists on a knife-edge – probably much as it does in the real-world version of this sport. It’s excellent.
From four wheels to two
This is, as has been mentioned, if the tutorials are committed to. Make no mistake; making the jump from four to two wheels is a hell of a leap – even for those players who count car-based racing sim franchises like Gran Turismo and Forza as some of their favourite games. While the game on easiest difficulty gives players some guidelines – a green strip on the track demonstrates the path one should be aiming for, for example – MotoGP 2021 puts a premium on balance mixed with speed. It’s a very tactical experience in which – for want of a better phrase – a ‘run and gun’ approach will not work.
Beyond the on-track experience, MotoGP 2021 requires quite a bit of tinkering and it’s here that the faithful are separated from the onlookers. In Career Mode, for example, players can micro-manage everything from brake temperatures to fuel consumption to the staff in their pit crew. These are elements that ardent fans of the sport will no doubt appreciate, but for the rest of us, it feels like busywork. Once again – possibly as a concession to noobs – Career Mode allows players to muddle on through with little input, but it’s likely the hardcore will feel these aspects are well worth getting stuck into.
It should be pointed out that whether one is a fan of this franchise or not, MotoGP 2021 looks jaw-droppingly gorgeous. One of the reasons to keep struggling through with this game from a newcomer perspective is that it looks incredibly slick throughout; there’s no frame-rate staggering, no tearing and even if you’re riding a bike badly, you look very good doing it.
MotoGP 2021: Verdict
MotoGP 2021 is a game players have to work to enjoy. In a lot of respects, it’s kind of like Dark Souls. If the game appeals to you, don’t expect an easy ride. It takes time, patience, timing and skill to master, but players prepared to make that deal are in for one hell of a ride.