The time has arrived. Dust off that leather jacket and helmet and hop into the two-wheeled craziness that is MotoGP 19. For context, this is actually the first MotoGP game from Milestone I've played, although I did sink plenty of time into one of the studio's previous titles - Ride 2. I've also had a motorcycle license for the past 10 years and have done a few track days. So let's get this out there - this is nothing like Ride 2. The physics are entirely different and the mods are non-existent. This is pure, adrenaline-fueled motorcycle racing, and the developers at Milestone have hit as close to a home run as possible.
Right off the bat though, I was left with a disappointing taste in my mouth. Heading straight into a quick Grand Prix race, I couldn't believe how bad the brakes were on these MotoGP bikes. You could brake right at the trajectory line and still not make the corner, ending up low/high siding and then getting back onto the track. I left off and waited for MotoGP 19 to have its first official patch which, thankfully, solved that particular problem and now the bikes brake and handle correctly. Anti-wheelie function works great, and when set to anything below 3 will give you some wheelies when going full throttle out of the corners. Traction control works equally well. Until that patch, this game could've been a mess, but thankfully Milestone sorted it out in a swift manner.
Physics-wise, the game is almost as real as seemingly possible, perhaps even to its detriment. Giving a bit too much brakes mid lean in a corner will throw you off into oblivion. A dab of brakes is just fine but a handful will cost you dearly. Rear brakes, however, are fine but again, too much and it will throw you right off. Anyone whose rode or done track days will tell you braking in a corner is a big no-no, unlike in cars where you can trail brake well past the apex if needed. In a motorcycle with already limited grip, it's near impossible. I'm very glad Milestone got that right as in Ride 2 you can just brake and brake without problems. The first thing any motorcycle school or instructor will teach you is, smoothness is key, and in MotoGP, it is 100% true. Too harsh on your controls and you will do poorly; smooth throttle out of a corner and you're on the way to victory. The only downside there is in terms of collision detection. You can hit another rider and just bounce off like he wasn't there and keep your trajectory, which is a bit odd and still needs more work.
Graphics-wise, the game is a looker, but I can't help but notice the colours on the riders seem to be a bit ghostly and washed out. The colours don't seem particularly vivid and that's with all the settings maxed out. In terms of the sound though, well, it's just music to the ears. The difference between a single cylinder 250cc four-stroke Moto3 and the 1000cc V4 or inline-four is superb, I am one to prefer the single cylinder sound but to each their own, and bike racing fans are well catered to here. The horsepower difference is, of course, massive, less than 55 HP for the Moto3 class and 260 HP for MotoGP. I recommend everyone starts off with Moto3 just to get a feel for the game, it's quite handy for learning the ropes.
And what Milestone definitely gets right is something that took Codemasters way too long to nail - career mode. In MotoGP19 you have a choice, standard or pro. In standard, all the options are selectable, from riding aids to race options. Pro mode is for the full-fledged racer. No trajectory, no joint brakes - full on racing mode. And as with Formula One, all the modes before a race are available, from free practice to qualifying and then onto the race. You can select which you'd like to do or not, and as usual, you can skip to the next session. It's an engaging career mode worthy of the name.
MotoGP 19 is a fantastic package overall and, hopefully, it ends up with a thriving multiplayer scene. The first post-launch patch was absolutely crucial in terms of tightening up the brakes and, while some of the physics still aren't quite there, it's a strong start.