It seems that MotoGP is now an annually released game, with MotoGP 10/11 getting released in time to coincide with the new 2011 MotoGP season which is now a few races old.
The game includes some changes that effect the way the game is played, and one of them is the way the bikes handle on the track. The game ditches the arcade style and adopts a more realistic physics and handling of the bike. The biggest change is the way braking is handled. Whereas last year the bike was able to stop on a dime instantly, you’ll now have to ease into corners; otherwise you’ll find yourself shooting off the track and into the gravel. While making the game more realistic, it does make bikes harder to handle and frustrating at times, as it is difficult to keep the bike on the track.
To help, the game does include assists to help ride the bikes. These were of great assistance at the beginning, when trying to get a feel for how the bikes handle. Sort of like training wheels. The game includes preset options that range from “easy”, where nearly everything is done for you to “simulation”, which you have full control over how you ride the bike. Turning off or having only a few of the assists turned on is preferable, as it results in a more authentic and challenging gameplay.
An area that was truly frustrating was the inability to control the bike when trying to keep the bike on a straight path. A slight movement while trying to keep a straight line would end up with the bike being uncontrollable and swerving side to side; and ultimately ending up off the track. Another gripe is that the AI riders would occasionally crash into you if you’re in their racing path, and thus running you off the track. This is especially frustrating when you’re aim was to keep a clean section, and you fail because of the AI controlled rider.
The game includes all three different bike classes – 125cc, Moto2 and MotoGP, and the difference in the bikes is handled well in the game. It is easy to differentiate between the bikes by the way they handle, the sense of speed and the sound. While the 125cc bikes lack the speed, are easy to handle and sound more like a bee trapped in a jar, the MotoGP class bikes were noticeably harder to control, had a greater sense of speed and more grunt to the engine sounds. An area of disappointment was the game lacking a sense of power of the bikes in the controls. You never get a sense that you are riding a powerful machine, and it was hard to distinguish the power between a MotoGP and 125cc bike.
The game features authentic tracks such as Phillip Island and Catalunya, and also includes riders and teams such as Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner. The initial roster is outdated as offseason moves, such as Stoner moving from Ducati Corse to the Repsol Honda racing team and Rossi replacing him at Ducati Corse haven’t been included. The game plans to rectify this by making a free downloadable content available with the latest changes for the 2011 season, which at the time of this review wasn’t available.
The bike and track models look great, and have been modelled with great detail. This cannot be said for the human characters, as they look pretty ordinary. While it isn’t the focus of the game, you still see them regularly, and it takes away from the realism of the game.
The game includes a few singleplayer modes. In World Championship, players have the option to race in a single race or the whole 2011 MotoGP season, including practice and qualifying sessions as well. All the riders and tracks are unlocked from the beginning, which is a major bonus.
Career Mode returns from last year’s version, and includes one major upgrade, the ability to play along with a friend in a co-op career mode. This feature is great, as friends can jump in and out, and help out through your career, as the reputation points earned by both riders are combined. It’s unfortunate that you can only play this offline and via split screen, as it would’ve been fantastic to play online.
The Career mode was the pick of the singleplayer modes. Starting off as a lowly 125cc rider, you gain reputation as you participate in race weekends, with the dream of moving up in classes till you reach the pinnacle that is MotoGP. With increases in reputation, you have the option to hire PR managers who bring in the sponsor, and engineers whose job it is to research areas of the bikes which can then be used to improve the bike. This mode is deep enough to keep your interest, yet simple enough so that you aren’t bogged down in small details so that you can concentrate on the racing.
While the focus seems to be on realistic simulation, there are still some arcade elements in the game, mainly in the earning of reputation points. Some ways reputation points are earned during races is driving through gates to achieve a perfect race line around a corner, clearing a section without riding off the track or achieving a certain speed. This added variety, as there is other objectives to pursue rather than just trying to win the race.
It’s great that MotoGP 10/11 adopts a more realistic simulation approach to the game, but I found the handling of the bike frustrating in certain situations. The ability to play the Career mode is an excellent addition, and one that is thoroughly enjoyable. The game includes a few changes, and should appeal to fans of the sport who want the latest roster and tracks of the 2011 MotoGP season (when it arrives via DLC).