If George Owell had of liked motorsports, undoubtedly it would have been two wheels good, four wheels bad and MotoGP is likely to have been at the top of that list. With the 2011 season well underway, Monumental give us their latest motorcycle racer to coincide with the action, aptly monikered MotoGP 10/11.
MotoGP 10/11 covers the whole of the 2010 season accurately; all the tracks, riders and bikes are present from the 125cc, Moto2 and MotoGP series. There are also promises to cover all the 2011 season as it unfolds, by providing free downloadable content as the races progress, much as they did with the previous title, although the finer details of what this will amount to have yet to be released.
If you already own the last game, chances are this one is going to be a little disappointing on the new features front. There are options to play through a world championship, or hop on a bike for some arcade racing (which is point based). There’s an option for trying to break track records in Time Trials and the ability to get online for some multiplayer action with up to twenty other biking fans.
The final option, Career mode, allows you to manage an entire season of both team and rider, hiring staff, improving the skills of the rocket-jockey and motorcycle and gaining a decent reputation in order to make it through the rankings. The player needs to be prepared to put the time in to get to the MotoGP level in the career side as there are humble beginnings on the 125cc bikes; in order to unlock the big boys, there’s a requirement to play through both of the smaller formulas first, a task that will take somewhere around six hours or so to do. Does this sound very familiar? It should as it’s pretty much identical to the last outing.
What has changed from the previous title is the handling of the bikes, and not for the better. MotoGP has forgotten its arcade racing routes and has gone more towards the sim-side of the SBK series. The trouble is it’s not one thing or the other, and sits in a rather uncomfortable middle ground. The smaller bike series feel better, being lighter and nimbler, but the MotoGP bikes seem lardy and awkward, never feeling like you’re in complete control. The braking still hasn’t been sorted and once again lacks feedback, a complaint that’s been present in this series for quite some time.
That said the control issue isn’t insurmountable; after the first few laps and a couple of races under the belt, things start to settle down. Racing lines become simpler to pick out and follow, braking points become easier to spot, and things generally start to flow a little better. Veterans will probably want to drop the entire rider aids straight away particularly as with the more of them on, the more removed the game seems to be from the racing. The novices should play about with the different options until a bit more practice is obtained and you’re happy with the motorcycle motion.
Things haven’t changed very much in the looks department either, and whilst the bike models are fine and accurate, the rider animations are largely non-existent and the trackside detail somewhat on the disappointing side. You do start to wonder just what has been going on the last year in development, other than changing the liveries; it could really have used a lick of paint to differentiate things a bit more.
With the online aspect, again things have changed very little. It’s possible to set up lobbies with any of the three available bike series (though most seem to favour MotoGP), with options as to the AI difficulty, collision detection and whether there is tyre wear on not. Sadly it isn’t possible to lock the different rider aids for the races, so players are free to choose the loadout they prefer, likewise with bike setup for suspension, tyre type and any of the other available garage tweaks. There were only a handful of multiplayer games available, but that could well be down to the PSN problems that have beset Sony of late.
When a lobby is joined and a game is in progress, it’s possible to view the action as a spectator, just to see how good the opposition is. There’s also a latency indicator to show how much or how little lag there will be when racing finally commences. The substantial lobby voting system returns allowing everyone to vote on the number of races in a session, the length of the race, the track to race on and the weather on the circuit. Once on track things are very smooth, with no noticeable drops in frame rate, even with the maximum number of riders on the circuit. Things seem generally free from online morons out to spoil the racing by going backwards when they start to lose, but it’s possible to turn collisions off (either entirely or just for reverse antics) to prevent this anyway, though it’s down to individual lobbies to set that option.
One of the better aspects of MotoGP is it does a good job of making you feel like a speed-demon; as the velocity increases, the screen starts to vignette and shake a little, not too much to make it distracting but enough to give the sensation that this bike is hurtling along at silly speeds. The usual viewpoints are selectable, both third and first person, though it is better just to stick to the behind the bike view for the easiest ride.
MotoGP 10/11 is a solid enough racer once you get to grips with the somewhat iffy handling. There are plenty of options to play with, a career mode that will keep you going and although the online racing aspect is likely to disappoint due to lack of opponents, it’s decent enough when you find a lobby to your liking. The real drawback here is that things are identical to MotoGP 09/10, which again is identical to MotoGP 08. If you already have the previous title, it’s debatable as to whether there’s enough content here to warrant a full-price purchase, especially given the free 2010 season update for the last game. It’s one to wait till the bargain bin beckons.
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