Who knew racing on two wheels would be so tough? In my video game career I have put in literally thousands of hours into racing games, from classics to the realistic simulators of today. But never have I had so much trouble getting used to a game. I'm not afraid to admit that it took me more than a few races before I even came close to a respectable finish, let alone taking home the gold. I just couldn't wrap my head around the way this game controlled, and my frustration really colored my opinion of this game. But a few hours into the game I started to get the hang of it and discovered, much to my surprise, that when I'm not slamming my head against the wall in frustration, I'm having a reasonably good time with Capcom's Moto GP 09/10.
If I sound a bit reluctant, it's because I am. I hesitate to recommend this game too strongly if only because I suspect a lot of traditional racing fans will have the same problems I did. There's a strange psychology that goes into learning a racing game. When it comes to cars and other four-wheeled vehicles I don't mind slamming up against the wall. I know that doing this will result in me leaving a funny dent in my virtual car or I can just back out and keep my head in the race. But crashing into a wall isn't nearly as fun when it means your virtual rider goes flying to the ground and you have to wait several seconds to restart. Things only get worse when you realize that you can fall off your bike for ridiculously simple mistakes. This all led to me really hating my time with this game right from the get go.
But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Moto GP 09/10 is an attempt to make a Forza 3-style game out of two-wheel motorbikes. There's certainly nothing wrong with that plan, since Forza 3 was one of the very best games for the Xbox 360 last year. This game gives you the robust career mode you expect, a way to customize your vehicle and a nice collection of famous race courses. The similarities don't end there, the game even offers the same green race line that is the default in Forza 3. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the game looks as good as it does. But no matter how many similar ingredients Monumental Games throws in, Moto GP 09/10 is nowhere near as good as Forza 3.
The meat and potatoes of this racer is the Career Mode, which takes you on a two year journey from just another guy to being the top racer in the world. I know, you've heard that story before, but the game does an excellent job of giving you options to play around with and ways to upgrade your standing. The first thing you need to do is name your racer and your race team. Then you'll need to buy some staff, maybe a publicist or an engineer. After you've competed in a few races you can start working on researching better bike parts. You are also able to pick up a few sponsors, who will give you money for just coming in above a certain place.
All this is impressive and really got me in the mood to micro-manage my race team (appropriately named "We Won't Win"). Maybe it's because I've played so many racing games over the years or maybe I have too much hubris, but I fully expected to jump into a race and do reasonably well. I'm not sure I expected to come in first, but I definitely didn't expect to get 15th (out of 20, let's not make it any worse than it is). There I was, sitting at the finish line utterly embarrassed by my poor performance.
The nice thing is, the game still gave me credit for at least trying. I earned a few points that took me up to level 2. Now I could choose a better bike and a more experienced staff. The next race went better. I may not have come in first (or even third), but I was at least in the single digits this time around. As soon as I realized that the game doesn't expect me to always come in first, I started to have a lot more fun.
Page 1 of 3