Be the boss on and off the track
Right The detail on the riders is absolutely superb, and everything stands up to close scrutiny. below Last race, last lap, last corner. It’s moments like these that separate legends from also-rans. “While MotoGP 17 feels a little too ‘by numbers’, it nails the basics”
It’s the last race of the championship and you’re tailing your rival. You’re one point ahead in the table, but if it stays like this, your whole season will have been in vain. All the publicity events you attended, the fans you chose to meet to boost your rep rather than your bank account… it’s all come down to this. You push a little harder into turns, reeling him in hand over fist, until you manage to manufacture a wider line into a sweeping lefthander, and hurtle past around the outside. The championship is yours for the taking, and the next tier of racing beckons. This is MotoGP 17, and its new management career mode is exactly what the series needed.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be the boss of anything. You can still have a career as a straight racer, if you prefer, in a separate mode. But building your own team and transforming it from a Moto3 also-ran to a universal-entered superteam with six riders on its books and the very best bikes and sponsors is as good as it gets in virtual bike sims. The official license is used superbly, not only offering all the current riders, tracks, teams, sponsors and tiers of the MotoGP universe in 2017, but setting you incidental challenges to unlock over 70 classic riders too. Everything is just that little bit better than before, from the presentation style to the quality of the environmental graphics, making this the clear choice for twowheeled sim racing on Xbox.
However, it’s not exactly swamped with direct competition, and several four-wheeled equivalents do things demonstrably better. Graphically, while it’s less sterile than last year’s game thanks to improved shadows and more realistic textures, it still feels a little lifeless at times. There are also some noticeable technical hiccups, with frame rate stutters, screen tearing and shimmering on environmental details, making this look much less assured than its peers. And the lack of speaking in cutscenes makes for unintentional hilarity: whenever your rider walks into the garage, the tension is palpable.
Getting it right
So while MotoGP 17 feels understated, reserved and a little too ‘by numbers’ compared to the very best racers on the market, it nails the basics. The handling is superlative, whether you’re using newbie-friendly assists or literally throwing your weight around with the advanced physics options. It’s a touch annoying that the assist settings can’t be switched off in the pause menu, and that preferences are saved separately for each of the various game types, meaning you’ll frequently find auto-brake and the dynamic racing line re-enabled as you make your way around the modes.
The canny AI deserves special mention, slipstreaming you down straights and adapting organically to unusual track positioning. For some reason, it is easier to outqualify opponents than reel them in on race day, but the cut and thrust of normal racing is so enjoyable, you won’t mind a hard-fought battle for the lead.
And that’s where this racer wins hardest. It’s a racing game with actual racing in it. Apply yourself with discipline, and you’ll be rewarded with victories that really mean something… even if your team does communicate its congratulations via the medium of mime. Funny lot.