MotoGP 13
| MotoGP 13

Readers of a certain age will remember the PlayStation 2 era of racing games, when you couldn't go five minutes without some company or other releasing a racer with pretensions to being a "simulation".

Fast-forward to 2013, and only very few games dare to compete with the Gran Turismos and Forzas of the world.

This is doubly true on handheld.

MotoGP 13 is a hardcore bike-racing sim for your Vita, and it presents you with full seasons of the MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3 championships. It's also probably the most fun I've had with a bike-racing game since Super Hang-On.

Leader of the pack

It's far less arcadey than that Mega Drive classic, of course. MotoGP 13 strives to give you realism, and if you tweak a few settings you can just about achieve it.

There's an excellent physics model at play, whether you plump for simulation or a less intense gameplay mode, and this lets you feel at one with the tracks you're racing on. The tension and excitement of whipping across tarmac at high speed - feeling every bump, leaning into every corner - is palpable.

The weather system is equally affecting, and if you're brave enough to bump the physics settings up to Pro you'll quickly find that any given corner on the Catalunya circuit (by way of example), is a very different proposition in the rain.

Further bringing you into the experience of being a MotoGP racer is the Career mode. You'll take part in multiple seasons using your motor home as the base of operations. Checking emails for new team offers, logging into a Twitter-a-like to see what the fans are saying, and then going on into the pit and out onto the track is all handled from a reasonably convincing first-person perspective.

You can stick with this first-person mode for actual races too, but, while it amps up the realism further, the constant bobbing and weaving of your head can be rather detrimental to your racing ability.

One of the neatest features of MotoGP 13 is the option to have a Technical Meeting with a member of your pit crew, and describe an issue you're having with the bike you're racing on.

Instead of asking you to then manually tune your bike, the mechanic will respond to the problem you've got, and tinker with the setup accordingly. Slow out of corners, or maybe oversteering? Just one conversation rectifies that.

Technical issues

The visuals are clearly a step down from their home console counterparts, with a few graphical details from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions missing. But it's still a good-looking game, and the atmospheric sound is excellent too. When you're in among a pack of riders and the wind is sailing past your ears it can be an intense auditory experience.

It's only outside of the races that some of the presentation begins to choke on the Vita. The pre- and post-race commentary repeats far too often, and although the menus are simply designed, getting through them takes just a little longer than necessary. Load times between races are also lengthy, which isn't ideal for portable play.

However, the racing really does make up for a lot of these shortcomings. Whether in the lengthy Career mode, or in some of the more instant options for quick racing, or in the online multiplayer component, MotoGP 13 is tough, and as mechanically intense as you desire.

With an experience system that's structured in a way that rewards riders for making races more realistic for themselves, this is a game that wants you to improve and test your skills. The lack of a decent training mode may initially dissuade the less dedicated racing fans, but riders that persist will learn to love MotoGP 13's sheer depth and nuance.

MotoGP 13

A brilliantly executed racing sim. If you're after a racing game on Vita, this is what's currently in pole position
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.