It’s my first race, and I’m nervous. I can feel the fear wash over me, just as much as the sweat is washing over my hands. I’m starting in the last pole position, and ahead of me are 15 riders who are all looking to take down the rookie. Also, being the only female rider on the course, I know that I have something extra I need to prove. This is it. The roar of the engines get louder and louder. The crowds are cheering us on. The light flashes, and the race is under way.

I don’t start off very well. My bike lifts up slightly as my front wheel jumps off the track. I need to slow down and take it easy on my take off. The other riders shoot ahead of me but as we approach the first turn, I’m able to make up some ground. This is the moment I feared. This is when we’re all going to bunch up and someone is going to send me packing. I lean into the turn and the strangest thing happens. I don’t turn.

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Nobody needs to take me out because I go flying off the track and crash into the wall all on my own. That can’t be right. Let’s start over and do this again. Once more I go racing into the corner and once more I find myself flat on the ground. Why can’t I turn? Why does this bike keep slipping out from under me? What am I doing wrong?

This was my introduction into MotoGP 14, the MotoGP racing sim from Milestone on the PS Vita. Suffice it to say, I’m not very good at racing games. In fact you could probably say that the last racer I was any good at was on the Sega Genesis, so I was starting from ground zero on this one.

The beauty of MotoGP 14 is that it allows you to completely customize the way you race so that you can make it as easy or realistic as you want. If you’re already an expert, then you can make the AI harder, the bike physics realistic, the tire wear accurately, or you can do baby steps like me and set everything to Easy.

But then the strangest thing happened. It clicked, and I started to get it. Soon (well, it took quite awhile, but still) I was able to take corners and not wipe out. Eventually I was able to overtake the other riders. Then, after the miracle of all miracles, I was able to actually start winning races. My career started to advance and racing teams were actually seeking me out to sign a contract with them. I was even able to hold my own in online races and win a few.

This isn’t to say that I’m any good at this game, but it is a triumph of this game’s design that it can allow a compete rookie such as myself to go from not being able to make a simple turn to becoming a serious contender for the Moto championship. That is quite an accomplishment.

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MotoGP 14 gives you several different ways you can race. You can have an instant race, an online challenge, or even recreate some of the most exciting moments from the MotoGP season. My favorite though was the Career mode where you can create a racer and guide him/her through several seasons and climb out of the Moto 3 and into the big leagues.

Along the way you will data packs in races (and in qualifying) that level up different parts of your bike. This really changes the dynamic of how your bike will control and give you a better chance at winning races. You can also decide how to outfit your bike so that it best suits your racing style. While in the pit you can choose which kind of tires you want or how stiff you want the suspension. Or if you’re like me, you just tell your engineer to do whatever he feels is best (but try to make it faster than the other bikes on the track).

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The online portion of the game also works really well, and again the variety of different race types you can have is impressive. I was always able to find a game relatively quick and the races never suffered from any form of lag. There was the occasional loss of a connection which would end a race, even if it was my opponent whose connection had failed, but otherwise it ran very smoothly.

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The sound in the game consists primarily of engine noise with only a bit of commentary before and after the race. I quickly discovered that being able to hear the whine of the engine was a crucial part in racing effectively. MotoGP 14 does a great job of using the engine’s noise to help you figure out when to accelerate and when to ease off. By listening to both the sound of my bike and that of my opponents, I found that I could quickly become a much better racer. It’s all very well done.

The graphics in the game are pretty good with a decent amount of detail on both the rider and the bike. While I haven’t played MotoGP 13, after some extensive research (i.e. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos) the two games seem to be nearly identical visually. There is no giant leap in the visuals, but instead there are just a few tweaks here and there that give each game a distinctive look. However, if you were to look at both games during a race, it would be nearly impossible to tell which was the older version and which the newer.

The area where the graphics take a huge hit is in the off-game moments. The character animations for the characters in the pit who are working on your bike are so weak that I thought they were put in as an homage to PS1 character models. But that’s not really so bad since the last thing you’ll be thinking about when you are on the track is how ugly your bike’s engineer is. What is bad is that after your race you get to read the highlights of what is going on around the league and the text displayed is so small that it’s nearly illegible. It was obviously created with a larger screen in mind and then just shrunk down to be put on the Vita. Again, it’s not something that ruins the way the game is played, but it does show a lack of attention to detail that really bothers me. Why would you display a screen full of words when those words can barely be read?

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One other slight “attention to detail” problem that I noticed was that the game is really bad with genders. In the career mode you get to choose from a handful of people when creating your character and one of them is a woman. I happened to create a female racer so I started to notice some problems that would creep up later in the game. When reading news stories about my win (or near win) it struck me as odd that my character was always referred to as “he” and “his” when clearly she was a “she.” Or when I would finish a race near the front of the pack, a little post-race animation would play showing my character celebrating her win… only it was fairly obvious that the character model being used was nowhere close to being a woman. Why have the option of being able to create a woman and then fail to carry through with it for the rest of the game?

But those small gripes aside, I found MotoGP 14 to be an extremely enjoyable game. It took me from a rookie who couldn’t turn a corner into a champion. The controls are really precise and fluid, with the only hiccup being that things tend to drag when navigating the menus. Once you’re in a race, things are flying and the game does a great job in allowing you to quickly navigate around your opponents (or giving them a nudge to send them flying). And if you screw up, you can choose to rewind time and try again. Everything is designed to allow you to customize how difficult the game is going to be. It doesn’t punish you for playing on Easy, and even then it is quite challenging. There is very little in the way of tutorials and quite a bit of the game will involve you figuring things out on your own. It wasn’t until I was halfway done with my first season in career mode before I discovered that there was an option to run qualifying races to get a better starting position. The game never mentioned it, and the way to select it in the menus is not very intuitive.

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MotoGP 14 may not be without its flaws, but it is hard to argue that it isn’t a really good game. Everything from the physics to the track selection are all top quality and make for a pretty spectacular time.  And while it doesn’t seem to be a major upgrade from the previous game, players who are new to the series will discover a fun and challenging racing sim. Even a rookie such as myself was able to have a really good time with it, even if I finished a race 15 out of 16.

 

REVIEW OVERVIEW
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Brad is a video game enthusiast and family man. He's been gaming since the days of the Intellivision, and while that indicates he's been doing this for quite some time, he doesn't intend to quit anytime soon. Currently he's trying desperately to convince his daughter that there are more games than just Minecraft (unsuccessfully so far).
  • Lester Paredes

    Amazing. North America just got Moto GP 13 this week. I suppose, like WRC 4, it’ll take about a year for us to get it.

    Nice review, I was wondering about if they had come out with a 2014 version of the game yet. They have. Sadly, i think that means i’ll hold off on our recent offering of 13. of course, by the time this one comes out, it’ll be 2015…

    • Charlie Large

      Hey Lester, you won’t have to wait too long 🙂

      http://thevitalounge.net/motogp-14-coming-to-north-america-this-september/

      • Lester Paredes

        Well, slap me silly and call me Cornpone! Now I have something to look forward to in September!

    • Jonathan Harding-Rathbone

      The two seem extremely similar. Unless you’re obsessed with the most recent version MotoGP 13 is ace. I might just go play it now actually 😀

      • Lester Paredes

        I’m just obsessed over the improvements they may have made over the previous years version. September is just a moment to away, I might just wait it out and hope for a physical release. My memory card is full to bursting.

  • Anthony Brinklow

    Great review. My first experiences with 13 were very similar and I will give it another go after reading this.

  • Rodolfo Ferreira

    Finally got the game, I can’t say I’m pleased.
    The game looks just decent most of times. I experienced delayed controls. Sometimes while playing MotoGP 14, I kept asking myself, “how can the Vita run a highly-detailed game such as Killzone but can’t keep up with this one? That’s because Milestone has relied on an outdated graphics engine and the game shows.
    And sometimes you can’t help but think you’re actually controlling a racing tank instead of a motorcycle.
    You start speeding up for, say, 50m but then you’ll need like 200m to break and steer, if you’re lucky enough (yes, I’m using both brakes!). The same painful process repeats itself over and over again throughout the race, impacting on the overall experience of the game. This is not a ‘quick-thinking’ game, it allows no last-minute reactions and you will never perform near-miss when approaching your opponent – not to mention the hitbox for this game is annoying and even hilarious sometimes. Your opponent gets close to you, and you’re down on the ground, guaranteed; Even though you could swear there was no contact at all. And then you restart from where the incident took place, but the catch up chances are so low, almost as if the AI of MotoGP 14 was programmed to force you into falling from your motorcycle, there are no incidents among other AI-based players.
    The tutorial doesn’t show you much. Actually, it only shows that you suck at this game. If you take a look at the ‘controls’ section of this game, you’re pretty much done with the tutorial. All of those combined, in short, gives you the conclusion that MotoGP 14 is not worth what it asks for ($29.99) – it’s just like any other FREE Android game that you spend your 15 minutes playing it (according to Shuhei) but then uninstall it afterwards, except that, on Vita, you pay a salty price for it. This game is one of the reasons Sony should let you try a game before actually buying it, only in this case, they should give you a 3 hour-window because MotoGP 14 has no demo. This game is an expensive waste of time. My overall score: 1.4/5.

  • Kawaii Ninja

    i download this game and the gas button is mixing up with brakes. like during racing it wants to brake automatically. who else has this problem. and how can i fix it. redownload it and start playing from the beginning?