After the recent influx of racing games, Xbox 360 and PS3 owners can now swap four wheels for two, don their shiny helmets and brace themselves for the ride of their life with the latest edition of the MotoGP franchise. Capcom, the guys behind the game, promise even greater realism and authenticity than previous versions plus an array of new features that will appeal not just to petrolheads but to anyone that wants to romp around the track at high speed and scrape their knees on the virtual tarmac.
Developed by Monumental Games, MotoGP 10/11 boasts all the data, stats and racers from the 2010 season and offers free downloadable updates for 2011 championship too – quite refreshing when everyone else charges the earth for DLC nowadays!
Biking fans will be in their element but the game, initially at least, certainly isn’t for the feint hearted: there are customisation options galore and a huge lineup of real life racers and teams to choose from. Fans of the sport and genre will lap up the detail and “feel” of the bikes, an altogether different kind of racing to their four-wheeled counterparts Gran Turismo 5 and Need for Speed. The handling and physics in MotoGP have been improved on the last in the series. Hurtling round a bend at high speed and braking in time takes some getting used to; crashes will be commonplace and you’ll quickly become familiar with speeding off the track and into some nearby hoarding. Equally, you’ll grow to hate the speed-sapping sand at the side of the track! Fortunately, there’s the ability to bend time and rewind after coming off your bike so you can have another attempt – Braid has a lot to answer for!
Make no mistake, this is an unforgiving title with a steep learning curve. Persevere, however, and you’ll soon find the thrill of overtaking the throng of riders and speeding along the straights hugely rewarding. For newbies there are plenty of “assists” that can be turned on to make life a little easier and a bit more arcade-like, whereas the more confident among you can deselect them all and attempt races as a full on simulation.
Click through the menu screen and you’re faced with five substantial game modes: Championship, Career, Challenge, Time Trial and the online multiplayer where you can race against 20 players at a time.
The career mode is particularly good value and will provide many hours of entertainment. After entering your name, picking your rider number, home track, team name and bike, you embark on your long journey to stardom. Further down the line you can also gain sponsorship and hire engineers and a PR team. Bikes and riders are fully customisable, with everything from branding and livery to helmet design and leathers. Should you want to get your hands dirty, you can also tune the bike too – tweaking traction control, brakes, transmission, tyres, the gearbox and suspension.
Additional options allow you to specify the number of laps per race, difficulty level (gentle, moderate, severe or insane) and whether you want the aforementioned rider assists switched on or off (novices should definitely keep these on unless you want to repeatedly fly over the handlebars!).
If you want to dive straight into the race, you can dispense with the practice and qualifying stages and immediately get down to business – although it does pay to make yourself familiar with the many winding tracks. The controls are easy to get to grips with – the only difference to your traditional racer being the inclusion of two brake buttons, one for each wheel. In practise, this works really well with the front wheel brakes helping to cut speed rapidly and the rear providing more measured deceleration.
One nice addition this time round is the ability for a friend to leap into your game and join your team as a co-rider. This adds an entirely new tactical element to the proceedings, the two of you working together to get keep your competitors away from the winners’ podium.
Challenge mode is a firm favourite too; a countdown timer ticks away as you race, although you can add vital seconds back on to the clock by pulling off various moves such as overtaking and slipstreaming other riders. The clock really adds some excitement and can prove pretty tricky if the other racers manage to break away from you, limiting the opportunities to add those all important seconds.
Racing against 26 computer controlled riders is quite a thrill – all at a silky smooth 60fps. The draw distance is fantastic with no visible clipping or pop up. The bikes look realistic enough and sound pretty accurate too, while the tracks are apparently pretty faithful renditions of the real things. Should you have the ability and confidence to take your eyes off the road ahead, the more critical among you may be a little disappointed at the attention paid to the side of the track and the surroundings – where the graphics are nothing to write home about.
Nevertheless, there is plenty to keep you glued to the game and the online multiplayer options are good fun – although mismatched opponents will make for miserable races as you seen them speed ahead of you with no conceivable way of catching up. Still, at the time of this review, there were always opponents waiting in the lobbies, so you can get plenty of practice in.
Last year Codemasters’ official formula 1 game, F1 2010, won the plaudits for providing a game that was faithful to the sport and Capcom deserves equal praise with its latest offering.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Accurate and oozes authenticity, decent graphics and sound, great collection of drivers, bikes and options and plenty of game modes
A little difficult for novices and hard to get to grips with if you're new to the series
Super realistic biking game that is unforgiving but quickly gets addictive.