Moto GP 10/11is not what I would call a pick-up-and-play racing game. The average race fan will likely spend most of their time falling off the bike and crashing into walls before getting the hang of things. Like Forza and Gran Turismo before it, Moto GP requires a lot of patience and hours of practice. But stick with it, because Capcom's newest racing game offers a lot of great content for anybody who put up with the steep learning curve.
This is not the first time I've strapped myself to a virtual motorcycle; last year I played through Moto GP 09/10
for the Xbox 360. At the time I had a hard time with the game's controls and challenging difficulty, to the point where I had a hard time recommending the game. With a year to think about it, I find myself warming up to the Moto GP franchise. I have been won over by the game's deep single-player content and well-executed online multiplayer modes. But as excited as I am about this year's product, I can't help but notice that this game looks and acts an awful lot like the game I reviewed twelve months ago.
Moto GP 10/11 doesn't break any new ground; it's a no-frills simulation racing game that has the player taking part in challenging motorcycle competitions across the globe. Players are given the opportunity to race real bikes on some of the world's most famous race tracks. We're given authentic weather conditions, bike upgrades and everything else you would expect from this style of racing game. This is definitely a game that plays it safe, for better or worse.
The core of the game is the career mode, which can be a lot of fun when you get over how familiar it feels. You play through an entire season earning money, hiring staff and upgrading your ride. The game does a good job of giving the player just enough control over the micromanagement to feel like they're really making a difference. Instead of being giving an overwhelming amount of parts to choose from, Moto GP has your research staff craft only a couple new parts at a time. Of course, research costs money. That means that it's important to get back out there and continue winning (or at least earning money).
I certainly don't want to sell the career mode short, it's definitely a solid addition that gives players a lot of incentive to keep going. Best of all, it never gets so complicated that it ceases to be fun. With only a few things to upgrade and easy to understand sponsorship deals, Moto GP 10/11 is definitely user friendly. Best of all, there's enough depth here to keep hardcore fans going for some time to come.
The career mode isn't the only thing about Moto GP that looks familiar. Fans of the series will also remember Championship, Time Trial, Challenge and Online. For the most part these modes are self-explanatory. For instance, the challenge mode has you fighting against the clock, whereas the time trial pits the player against themselves. Even though I couldn't think of any missing modes, it's a shame Capcom wasn't able to provide more fresh features in this update.At first glance the racing looks the same, but there are a few enhancements that make this Capcom's best Moto GP release. For one thing the handling has been tweaked, making it easier for beginners to jump in. You may still fall off your bike or (gasp) come in tenth place, but at least you'll feel like you're in control most of the time. The gameplay feels a lot more forgiving this time, which doesn't go without notice. Of course, you can always turn off all of the assists if you want to go back to ramming into walls and slamming your head against the table in frustration.
Apparently the developers have been playing some of the competition's games, because they've brought over a few familiar additions. The most compelling addition involves the racer having to complete certain tasks throughout the race. This time around the player will get bonus points for averaging a certain speed, cleanly swerving through markers and getting the bike up to full speed. Performing these optional tasks is the easiest way to level up the racer, which will get them one step closer to becoming the highest ranked driver in the Moto GP.
There's no question that this is a polished product. The game's visuals are sharp and clean, offering realistic looking backgrounds and speed effects. I was even impressed with some of the smaller derails, such as the reflection of a Ferris wheel. I also liked how many racers there were on the course at any one time. While some racing games only give you a handful of opponents, Moto GP 10/11 has you going up against 26 other people (19 when playing online). The end result is a solid racing game that manages to scratch an itch I didn't even know I had.
But even with the great graphics and deep career mode, too much of this game feels familiar. Even with the improved gameplay, I had a hard time shaking the notion that I've played this game before. There simply isn't enough new here to give this game a clear recommendation. However, if you don't own last year's model, then Moto GP 10/11 is a racing game worth checking out.