MotoGP 10-11 Preview - Get Your Motor Running
Written Wednesday, February 23, 2011 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
When we previewed MotoGP 09/10 last year, Capcom whisked us away to the iconic Silverstone circuit to get some real superbike action on the back of a Yamaha speeding around part of the training section of the famous track. This year, we've been sent the preview code of the next game in the series and we haven't had the pleasure of having our head dangled inches from blurry asphalt, but we've given it a good go anyway. And having rode on the back of a bike, we feel like we're now an authority on the subject, even if you might think we're not.
Immediately presented with the difficulty options, early indications are good, as there's a 'Gentle' setting, followed by Moderate, Severe and Insane, so apparently newbies are as equally well catered for as the hardcore veterans. MotoGP 10/11 is still as exacting and unforgiving as ever though, so despite playing the previous two iterations, we find ourselves out of our depth once again after hours of four-wheeled racing games have us braking and turning in all the wrong places at all the wrong times. Gentle isn't so gentle as it happens.
Chickening out completely and opting for the Moderate difficulty setting, MotoGP 10/11 clearly hasn't diluted any of its simulation aspects and even the presence of a green guide line that turns red to show you where to brake doesn't help us to stay out of the gravel traps. At first anyway. After diving head-first into Championship mode, where you can choose from 125cc, Moto2 and MotoGP classes, you're able to pick your rider, tune your bike and then take to the track to practice or qualify, before heading on to the grid proper.
Of course, you can forego all of this preamble and skip straight to the race, but you'll soon appreciate the virtues of doing one or two practice laps before jumping in with both feet. Upon reaching the grid, you're plonked in the middle of all the preparations and activity after which, it's time to rev up and race. On the track, MotoGP 10/11 looks solid and boasts all of the authenticity that you'd expect from a licensed game of this ilk, but there seems to be little in the way of visual effects and flourishes at present, and given our regular visits towards the tyre wall through the gravel, we found that barely any debris gets kicked up and the crash animations as your rider bails and is thrown across the track, look pretty shoddy. Farcical even. They could do with a ragdoll physics overhaul to add to what should be the spectacle of crashing.
When you do crash – and you almost certainly will, a lot – there's always the opportunity to jump into the pause menu and activate a 'Second Chance' to rewind the action and try that awkward corner all over again. For a game as demanding as MotoGP 10/11, it's a useful function to have and a perfect way to learn from your mistakes, then hopefully correct them. Constant crashing also triggers a subtle new visual effect that reinforces your rubbishness - in case you don't feel bad enough already - as colour is leeched from the screen. Conversely, skilled riding is rewarded with more vibrant colours, as you speed down the track and leave rivals in your wake. It's an admittedly very small touch, but a nice one nonetheless.
Handling is certainly positioned right towards the end of the more realistic spectrum then, perhaps more so than the previous game and if you choose to race with all of the assistance switched off, then you're probably going to crash and leave a bloody smear all over the track more often than not. That is assuming that you're not a MotoGP aficionado, for which MotoGP 10/11 will almost certainly be the finest iteration in the series. It's about as close to the real thing as we can imagine, bearing in mind that we've only ever experienced the thrills of being on a superbike from a pillion position.
There's three different views to choose from too, with third-person, a slightly higher third-person viewpoint and the ultimate MotoGP test: the vomit-inducing first-person view, where you can lean and sway with the bike for as long as your stomach can bear it. It's an odd sensation, which goes some way to recreating the feeling of being on a bike leaning over inches from disaster and a long spell in traction. Add to this the solid visuals and lovely vibrating controller feedback, and MotoGP seems to feel right, although the level of difficulty will still prove to be a barrier to enjoyment for most people.
And this is a shame to some extent, as it means that most racing fans are unlikely to be tempted by MotoGP 10/11, as even at the Moderate difficulty level, the game can be incredibly harsh. But if it's realism and authenticity that you're after, then MotoGP 10/11 appears to tick all of the right boxes. Boasting enhanced physics and a new handling system, realism is certainly the watchword for developer Monumental Games, and it shows on the track, requiring plenty of practice to master the nuances and many idiosyncrasies of what makes a bike unique and entirely different to a four-wheeled machine. Obviously. Then there's factors like tyre wear – which can also be switched on and off – to consider when you race, but it's really all about the braking, as in knowing when to brake and so on.
Alongside MotoGP 10/11's Championship mode, there's the return of the self-explanatory Time Trial, as well as a revised Challenge mode and the usual in-depth Career mode. Career mode is much the same as before, enabling you to embark upon a campaign from season to season as your favourite rider, except this time, a co-operative player can drop in and become your team mate in splitscreen multiplayer, which is a very neat addition indeed. There's more multiplayer where that came from too however, as the game offers support for up to 20 players to compete against one another online, which is fairly remarkable stuff. Unfortunately, we're unable to test the online aspects at this time.
Whether any of this manages to pique your interest however, is another question entirely. On paper, MotoGP 10/11 is shaping up to be a decent enough update to the annual franchise, and Capcom and Monumental's dedication to keeping the game fresh with the latest liveries and stats delivered via free DLC - as they did last year - is commendable. More sports games should take note where this kind of thing is concerned.
While visually MotoGP 10/11 doesn't seem like a huge leap, in other departments it looks to be an incremental improvement. Still, the lack of accessibility on the track – even taking into account the numerous assists – could yet prove to be a sticking point for a lot of gamers. For simulation and die-hard MotoGP fans alike however, MotoGP 10/11 ought to provide enough new stuff to warrant another purchase this year.
We'll find out for sure when the finished game launches on March 15th in North America and March 18th in Europe.