One of the really cool things that MotoGP 15 does is something that most players probably won’t even notice. If you’re playing the game on a PS4 with a DualShock 4 controller, the LED bar on the front of the controller changes colour according to the rev counter in the game. Green is for for low revs, orange is for mid-range and high revs, and red is for when you’re nearing the engine’s limit. Unless you turn the controller over to glance at the LED bar, you never know it’s there. It’s a neat little gimmick, but I wonder why the same attention to detail hasn’t been put into the rest of the game. MotoGP is the best motorcycle racing game I’ve yet played, but it still feels unfinished and unpolished.
Compared to the last Milestone game I played, which was Ride, MotoGP 15 plays very similarly, although the handling and physics model is very different. Visually, there’s a stark contrast between the two titles, as Ride aimed to create the Driveclub of motorbike games with its lush environments and interesting backdrops. MotoGP doesn’t share Ride‘s aesthetic flair, though this does enable the PS4 to hit the 60fps mark consistently without many hiccups.
There are moments when I’m glad that Milestone chose to stick to their guns with an older engine. I love racing in the rain and MotoGP’s wet weather races are completely terrifying from inside the helmet cam. Visibility is nowhere near as bad as other games drop it to, but it is a challenge. Just like Ride, the physics engine for the bike’s behaviour on the track is very good, and occasionally you’ll be wrestling for control of a ’90s Ducati that doesn’t know the meaning of traction control.
The downside of this is that there are moments when it doesn’t look or feel like a current-gen game.
Moments like being inside your pit area and noticing that your crew members have almost rectangular arms and legs. Or when you’re in the game’s menus and notice that there seems to be button prompts that are missing. The action while you’re on the track is top-notch (better than Ride, actually), but there are times when you’ll be scratching your head pondering some of the decisions Milestone made. Perhaps these things are all superfluous and series loyalists only care about the actual racing, but it doesn’t feel like it all fits together right.
One thing that really surprised me during my time with it is that the multiplayer worked right out of the box. I could join lobbies, host new sessions and create race weekends. Everything worked. While the latency is okay (I’m assuming the game uses P2P matchmaking), your experience will differ wildly if you live in an area where there aren’t many players online. In my case, finding players to join my lobby took about five minutes. The multiplayer is often the essential part of the game for some players, especially since the official PlayStation Official League does have a MotoGP 15 segment, and you can pit your skills against other players in the league for real money or prizes, all from within the game’s menu.
Curiously, the multiplayer race menu is the only spot in the game where I can pick a track, pick a rider, and pick the weather. Nowhere else, not even in the quick race menu, am I able to properly customise a race weekend or select what the weather will be like – I just get access to presets. I’ve been spoiled by countless other racing games offering this feature, so it puzzles me why it isn’t in MotoGP 15.