STAFF REVIEW of MotoGP 22 (Xbox One)

Friday, May 13, 2022.
by Adam Dileva

MotoGP 22 Box art While I’m a casual MotoGP fan, I somehow always seem to play the games, usually skipping a year or two’s entry here and there. I last reviewed MotoGP 20, skipping 21, so I was excited to get back onto the bike for some laps around the track. The MotoGP games is what actually turned me onto the sport, and while I’ll only watch a race here and there, it’s always quite exciting when I do, and that’s what MotoGP 22 is trying to recreate, an authentic MotoGP experience for fans and newcomers. It seems they’ve hit a sweet spot in the series with this year’s entry, adding the best career mode addition to date that is a game changer and had me hooked.

There’s a decent amount of content here for those wanting a robust campaign, spreading across the entire MotoGP world and 2022 Season. With over 100 riders, over 20 official circuits, there’s plenty of racing for you to customize and race at your own preferences. You’re able to create your own team or be a part of an official one, and much like previous entries, and you’ll have to hire and reject staff, from management to engineers that can improve your aerodynamics, frame, electronics and engine.

If you want to start out small before jumping into the insanely powerful MotoGP machines, you can begin in the Moto2 and Moto 3 leagues instead if you want something a bit easier to handle to begin. Even if you choose to jump right into the ‘big boy’ MotoGP league, you can customize your game to suit how many assists you want, from nearly fully automatic braking to no assists at all which will take some serious commitment to master.

When you choose what you want to race you can then choose what to partake in on race weekend, from warm ups, practice laps and qualifying, or simply just jump into the race itself without doing so. Depending on how in-depth you want to sink yourself into the MotoGP world, you can set races from just a few laps to the full experience. Choose to take part of the practice laps and you can work towards some challenges your team sets forth for you which will reward you with bike improvements, so it can be worth the time investment, along with the practice to learn your bike better. Aside from menu changes, the main campaign is vastly the same in its setup and execution from previous years.

Now, what surprised me and made me become hooked to MotoGP 22 was the new NINE SEASON 2009 Mode. Here you get to relive and partake in one of the most exciting championships in MotoGP history. Broken down into seventeen separate chapters, you’ll be facing completely unique challenges that happened at iconic moments of this mind blowing championship. Grab your helmet and take control of legends like Stoner, Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Rossi, all of which need no introduction for fans.

Each episode is captivating, as it shows historical footage outlining the drama and competition between the leaders of the 2009 Season. With almost an hour of actual footage included, narrated amazingly by Mark Neale, I didn’t realize how exciting and how much drama that was involved in this legendary championship. As you complete each chapter you’re tasked with various objectives, such as beating a certain opponent, coming in a specific place or better, and being successful will unlock a new video and race of the championship.

Actually playing as Rossi and the other icons would have been cool enough, but setting up these snippets of races with specific objectives, each with their own perspectives and challenges, was easily the pinnacle of MotoGP 22 by far. You can even unlock riders, bikes, liveries and more going through this mode. NINE SEASON 2009 is more than a simple campaign, but more like a documentary you get to experience along the way, fantastic for casual fans like myself that now have watched hours of YouTube footage on these riders and races. The drama and story of these riders and overall challenges absolutely hooked me and made for a unique experience I don’t find in many sport racers.

I won’t lie, my first few races were absolutely terrible, as I found it difficult to control the bike the way I intended. Racing a 1000cc bike going nearly 300 km/h is unfathomable, and even in game form can be quite a challenge. There’s a new tutorial section, titled the MotoGP Academy, where you’ll learn much of the basics, free to try out some of the assists and difficulty toggles to find what works best for you. These start out heavy handed, auto braking for you, but you can of course change these to whatever setting you wish. The tutorials won’t have you rushing to first place every race from the get-go but at least there’s an attempt to teach you aside from simply throwing you onto the track with cold tires.

Previous MotoGP games allowed you to drive quite aggressively, but I found this to be not the case as much in MotoGP 22. Before I would slam on the brake and lean hard into each corner and be fine. I had a much more difficult time trying to race that style in this year’s game, having to teach myself to let go of the throttle and feather the brake at times rather than simply hitting them hard as I could. Racing two wheeled MotoGP bikes is nothing like typical racing games, as you need to pre-lean and prepare to corner unlike cars. This takes a bit of time to get a feel for, as you have to lean early, but not too early or you’ll cut the corner and get a penalty (and most likely bail). There’s a point where everything simply ‘clicks’ and you get it. Once you’re able to lean in and out of corners, chaining them together with precision while near horizontal and riding the grass edges feels amazing.

Braking too feels vastly improved, having to utilize front and rear brakes while leaning takes time to master, but there’s something special when you feel one with the bike and track, hitting those apex and lines absolutely perfectly. Speaking of assist lines, I tend to keep them on to learn the tracks better, but there’s a few sections where it turns yellow and red to indicate to slow down and how much, but some of these seemed completely wrong and way off. Certain corners I had to brake well before it suggested and even then I would barely make the corner at extreme angles and powering out of the apex. I’m not sure if these adjust for what bike upgrades I currently have equipped, but certain tracks were very difficult due to these inaccurate race lines.

If you want a truly authentic experience to be as close as it gets to the real thing, I suggest turning off all assists and using the helmet camera. There’s nothing else quite like it. I found it insanely difficult but there’s definitely a unique experience to be had racing in this view. Not recommended for new players, but worth checking out for sure if you want to see what riding a bike like these would actually be like without the worry of crashing.

Online multiplayer is virtually unchanged and what you’d expect from a MotoGP game. You can customize your lobbies and races up to twelve players. Even after a couple weeks since release and having cross-gen multiplayer (same console families only), there’s virtually no one playing this online every time I go to check for races online. Maybe I’m checking at the wrong times, but I would have expected a larger community to pay with. If it helps, there’s now a split-screen mode finally included if you have someone locally to play with, something that’s been asked for many times previously.

I was hoping that skipping last year’s MotoGP 21 that I’d be blown away by this entry visually. MotoGP 22 looks fine, as lighting seems better, grass looks great and overall seemed smoother, but some of the models, even the basic choices for your character are quite bland and unimpressive, even on an Xbox Series X. Audio is in the same boat, being completely adequate, but nothing really stood out. Sure the starting line and first few corners are exciting with all the engine roars close by in turn one, but once you separate yourself from the pack, you’ll just hear the same engine whizzing without any music or commentary.

AI seemed basically on rails, as they will race their line, regardless if you’re in their way or not. There’s an option to pick up your bike and get back on track when you crash, but AI doesn’t seem to need to follow these same rules for whatever reason. The standard Career Mode was serviceable, but NINE SEASON 2009 is now the true king of the MotoGP series, one that I hope to see return with another exciting season in the inevitable MotoGP 23 next year.

Without this new exciting career mode I probably would have bailed on MotoGP 22 long before, but seeing documentary footage and racing as iconic legends of the sport was truly exciting. Hardcore MotoGP fans will most likely love this new mode, especially since they’ve made this casual fan a larger one because of it. While MotoGP 22 might be a harder sell for the fans that purchase it every year and know that there’s only incremental updates, this is probably a great entry to dive in for those on the fence or have skipped a few years of entries.

**MotoGP 22 was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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