A The common plague with annual sports games is that they often only feature minor updates with each iteration. MXGP 2021 is largely the same as last year’s official motocross video game, so while there is a lot to master for MXGP Newcomers, series veterans will likely be frustrated with a fresh coat of paint in developer Milestone’s latest motocross simulation.
As MXGP 2021 is the only officially licensed motocross racing game, it’s the only way to experience the official racing tracks, riders and bikes that make up the motocross championship. You will have access to many game modes right from the start – Career Mode, whose Milestone state is “remodeled” with career path decisions of special importance, and a Quick Game Mode where you can try your hand at games. time trials, a grand prix and championship rounds away from career mode. All of the tracks in the game seem unlocked and playable, so it’s great that you have the chance to practice one of the three quick modes before committing to an attempt at your career. There is also a free roaming playground mode and a track editor.
If you are a newcomer to MXGP then you will need to spend some time practicing. The bikes’ physicality and handling on the low-grip muddy racing surface are designed to be realistic, so it will take a bit of getting used to. There is a brief run of tutorials with highlighted onscreen controls but as far as I know that doesn’t tell you anything that you can’t learn by looking at the game’s control settings. To become a good pilot you have to skillfully balance steering, driver weight distribution and throttle control. See, you can’t just wander the race track – the mud is heavy, its poor grip feels like it’s going through molasses, and it’s very slippery when wet.
“MXGP 2021 is largely the same as last year’s official motocross video game, so while there is a lot to master for MXGP Newcomers, series veterans will likely be frustrated with a fresh coat of paint in developer Milestone’s latest motocross simulation. “
To finish high in the pecking order, you need to develop a consistent approach to turns. In short: take your time. It is very easy to lose control if you accelerate too hard and too soon out of a corner. Get into the handling swing of the bike and perfectly time your rider’s incline just as you come out of a tight turn and it’s remarkably satisfying. That being said, you will reverse the handlebars – a lot. And unfortunately, falling off the bike – or any event that causes a reappearance – can be an immersion break. You reappear almost immediately after your pilot comically flies like a rag doll in the runway advertisement. Oddly, you’ll also immediately respawn if you accidentally cut a corner or miss a jump or obstacle. Personally, if I missed a turn, I would prefer to be penalized in some other way – a few seconds added to my total race time for example. There were times when I reappeared on the race track, directly into an opponent’s race line and sent them flying. I can only imagine how maddening it will be during online multiplayer.
Perhaps at odds with my suggestion of a time penalty, the optional “rewind” feature is admittedly very useful. Press the assigned button on your controller to turn back time, giving you a new opportunity to successfully overcome an obstacle without missing a route. Purists might argue that the “rewind” feature gives rise to artificial races – and overall I would agree. However, at the start of your piloting career, it’s a welcome addition that will save you a lot of frustration.
Setting up your bike before the race for peak performance will be a popular feature for motocross and cycling enthusiasts. You have the flexibility to adjust your bike’s suspension, gear ratios and wheelbase length, as well as map your throttle and brake response. Although the setup system is not as thorough as tuning the car in a game like Forza Horizon 5, it can be overwhelming if you are not technically minded. Of course, every setting is explained, but I’m still having a hard time figuring out which setup would give me the best performance on the next circuit. So with that in mind, it would be beneficial if Milestone could add bike setup presets as a starting point for riders like me.
This is especially important as it seems that tuning your bike for optimal performance is essential to giving the edge you need to compete up front. Even with my opponent’s AI set to ‘very easy’ I often found myself lagging behind in the middle of the field after a decent first lap fighting for the podium. After experimenting with various bike setups, I was able to compete regularly for the commercial ranking, albeit always with the simplest AI tuning.
âFinishing high in the pecking order requires you to develop a consistent approach to the turns. In short: take your time. “
At the start of this review, I mentioned Milestone’s promise to incorporate the importance of career path decision making. In fact, they claim that your reputation as a rider depends on it. In my experience, after spending a few hours in career mode, I’m a little confused as to how my decisions so far have had a tangible effect. You see, you select the team for which you want to race under contract when competing in the different stages of the motocross championship. You’ll level up as a rider while earning experience points to spend on outfits. There are many models of helmets and visors in the game store to spend your EXP with. From what I can see these are just superficial changes with no effect on racing performance. You also can’t customize the look of your bike if you’re under contract with the team, which is a shame.
Since this is motocross, muddy tracks with muddy turns mixed with exhilarating verticality and huge jumps are the name of the game. There isn’t a lot of variety of tracks, but each track offers a reasonably challenge. technical. Some corners offer different trajectories, with pieces of mud slapped in the middle that will have to be avoided. The motorbike’s engines also sound harsh and throaty, so while the in-game graphics aren’t spellbinding, they’re adequate when factored into the game’s sound design.
There is a reasonable splash of mud on the screen suggesting the unpleasant experience of dirt falling on your face. Changing weather effects such as heavy showers halfway through the race provide a richer viewing experience – with reflective mud puddles splashing rainwater onto your screen. It is really very effective in conveying the soggy feeling of an unpleasant downpour. And the bike becomes more difficult to maneuver in wet conditions, requiring smoother acceleration for fear of skidding. It’s a shame that the graphically enhanced bad weather doesn’t extend to your runner who feels muddier as the race progresses, and the roll marks on the track don’t change. There’s a hint of tread in your wake, but it’s only noticeable on reruns of the race.
The pre-race loading times are often quite long. I regularly wait up to a minute on my PS4 Pro for the song to load. While racing, I’m happy to report that there aren’t any noticeable performance issues or drop in frame rates, which overcomes an issue I think wasted MXGP 2020.
There is some fun to be had in the other game modes as well, but there isn’t a lot of content here. Playground mode offers something different from standard racing modes, with the ability to explore part of the Welsh countryside – free-roaming through rugged terrain and dense forests with castle ruins. This is a great opportunity to try out more challenging game settings, such as the “advanced” (read: more realistic) bike physics simulation instead of the “standard” default physics. There are also a few assist modes like rider weight distribution or the automatic transmission that you can try turning off on the playing field – you’ll notice the difference.
“If you are new to the MXGP and a fan of physics-based racing simulators, then there is a lot to enjoy with MXGP 2021 – don’t expect the level of depth you would get from a DiRT Rally Where Gran Turismo Title.”
While exploring the playground is fun, it can also feel a bit awkward at times. As mentioned earlier, your bike becomes unstable at low speeds. As a result, climbing the narrow staircase to the castle ruins was not as fun as I expected, as my bike continued to wobble unexpectedly, its rear end fishtail like a salmon out of water.
The latest game mode, the Track Editor, lets you create and upload your own challenging track designs. The system is reasonably intuitive with a choice of four types of landscapes with which to plant your mud patches in any arrangement you deem appropriate. This mode needs a bit of tweaking when it comes to testing your trail – there is no map in your HUD and limited indication for the edge of your trail. It also doesn’t seem possible to change a section halfway down your trail if you decide the topography would be suitable for a jump instead of a turn. Hopefully a patch will come from Milestone, allowing players to take more advantage of this promising game mode.
Ultimately, if you are new to the MXGP and a fan of physics-based racing simulators, then there is a lot to enjoy with MXGP 2021 – don’t expect the level of depth you would get from a DiRT Rally Where Gran Turismo Title.
This game has been tested on PlayStation 4.