MotoGP racing is big in Europe and elsewhere, but in America it draws about the same size fanbase that follows competitive downhill skiing. There is interest, but not a huge cross section of people who will be actively waiting for this game. Still, the potential for a fast-paced racing game that uses motorcycles, and has fairly impressive career mode options should be enough to entice new fans to try the series, right?
Maybe, but not human fans. MotoGP 10/11 is meant to be played by mutants, who have adjusted to life at a higher frequency. Even the most well-honed gamers’ reaction times won’t be enough at times — this title demands reaction times bordering on ridiculous. That might be great for experienced motorcycle video game racers, but all of the options designed to help you learn the style of racing, like the AI assists and hints, are difficult to find under multiple levels of menu screens. To say that it is not accessible is an understatement. And of course, that is ignoring the fact that the physics are flawed and the game is glitchy on top of it.
Most gamers will be able to put difficulty aside — if there is one things gamers are good at, it is repeating the same frustrating things over and over again. But no matter how skilled you get at the game, no matter how many times you have raced the same course, you will never feel the thrill of excellence that you might hope for, because the driving physics are inconsistent. The most determined racers will be able to adjust, but the feeling that the handling is just off and unnaturally teeters between very twitchy or oddly sluggish is hard to ignore. It’s a shame because the game offers a lot of fun things to do. The gameplay just doesn’t happen to be one of them.
Kick start your heart
Most of the options available to you will be familiar from last year’s MotoGP 09/10 release. In fact, there really isn’t much new to the game. But as many did not play the last edition of this title, that might not be an issue.
When you begin the career mode of MotoGP 10/11, you start on the lowliest of bikes possible, a 125cc bike, which is essentially a beginner’s dirt bike. As you progress, you unlock bigger, faster and much more powerful motorcycles on your quest to crack the MotoGP circuit. In this, the game shines.
You also earn a “reputation” for doing various things as you race through the career mode. Winning races is an obvious boost, but setting records, overtaking other bikers, or showboating will all increase your reputation, to name a few possibilities. As your reputation increases, so too does the interest of the various sponsors and bike manufacturers you can build relationships with — the sponsors are sadly fictional, but that isn’t a huge deal.
Once you have a bike and sponsors that like you, your career really begins to take off and you will unlock bigger and better events throughout the calendar year. To win each race, you will need to find the right balance for your bike, and this is something that MotoGP does very well. You will eventually be able to take full advantage of a research team of engineers, which will look at your bike and give you suggestions on how to improve it to its fullest. Like most racing sims, simply adding more power to a bike will simply mean you will slam into a wall quicker—it is a careful balance, and the research team will help you find that balance. This is an awesome addition, and one that will hopefully make its way over to other racing sims.
Another great feature of the game is the ability to play co-op with a teammate via splitscreen. Your friend can join in and race with you, and in doing so they will help bring attention, money and an increased reputation to your team. Naturally, you can also race against your friends if you choose.
If you prefer to race against people that aren’t within controller-throwing distance, there is always the online multiplayer. It consists of fairly basic online setup with races and leaderboards, but nothing that will surprise you.
The challenge modes are also there to keep things interesting, and these modes will…well, challenge you. They are tough, but fun. They will also help you to learn the weird physics inherent in MotoGP. It is a nice inclusion that adds to the overall package.
Hitting the brakes
It really is a shame that the physics of this game are off, because the rest of the package is fairly robust and has plenty to keep you interested. To be fair, the issues with the game don’t destroy it, but they make what could have been an exceptional game just an average one. Burning down a flat reacts just like you might expect, with a twitch causing you to die horribly — just as you would in real life — but then you hit the corners and the responsiveness is outright sluggish and will make you grind your teeth. Leaning from left to right is painfully slow, and not only will it cause you to repeatedly wreck, even when it does not, it is frustrating at best. Rain is another issue—not in the sense that it is more difficult to race in, just the opposite. It makes no difference at all, which makes its inclusion puzzling and a sign of flawed gameplay physics.
Racing games don’t need to mimic the real-life physics to be fun, but they need to have a consistent logic to it, which MotoGP does not. If you really want to, you can get used to it, but you have to learn through repetition—it is not intuitive.
Also inconsistent are the graphics, which sometimes look gorgeous, and other times look like they were hastily remastered from the last-gen consoles. Even when they look good, a lot of the time they are just dull to look at anyway. Again, the inclusion of the rain is puzzling here. The rain effects look fine, but there is no sense of the rain actually being more than a skin thrown on top of the race. Besides the fact that it won’t affect your racing, it doesn’t cause any rain specific effects. The water doesn’t spray, and the bikes don’t look much different in the downpour. It may sound like nitpicking, but it feels like Capcom cut corners.
There is a lot in MotoGP 10/11 to offer fans of motorcycle racing fans, but even they will have to overlook some big problems, most notably with the inconsistent physics. With more than 20 bikes, a huge career mode, challenges and a really good co-op option, it might be worth looking at though. There isn’t much new in this years’ game from last, but if you are a hardcore fan, maybe that won’t matter any more than the scores of Madden fans who purchase the game annually without much thought.
For the majority of the time, the racing is fairly fun, but when it is bad, it is very bad. Going into an S-curve is sluggish and frustrating, and many times you will hit a curve, then need to follow it with a hard turn in the other direction. These moments are positively painful, and they will kill any sense of fluidity to the race. They aren’t in every race, which makes the game more fun, but you will quickly come to recognize the track layouts, which will be a problem.
MotoGP 10/11 feels like it took a few shortcuts and in doing so, missed a great opportunity to appeal to more than just motorcycle racing fans. There is plenty to like here though, but with a bit more time and a few additional tweaks, a great game became an average one.
Score 7 out of 10
(This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 on a copy provided by Capcom)