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MotoGP 10-11

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: PS3
Category: Racing
 
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Author:

Developer: Monumental Games
Publisher: Capcom

Features:

1-2 players offline/ 2-20 online
20MB game-save file
480p/720p HD Video Output
Dual Shock 3
Headset
Dolby Digital

It’s clear from the outset that MotoGP 10/11 is trying to do for bikes what Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo have done for cars. The wealth of RPG style options is pretty impressive, but does it have the same draw that other motor-sport games have? Read on.

Graphics

Graphically, to the untrained eye at least, MotoGP 10/11 doesn’t look a lot different from last year’s iteration. Right away it’s easy to see the game boasts highly detailed and intricately designed bike models. They all look very colourful and every part of high performance. While the bikes are generally modelled well, the texture work is poor. You can make out the different models and manufactures, but I found the picture a bit fuzzy. I thought it was done on purpose to make the game have some kind of stylistic effect, but it serves no purpose that I can see. The level of visual detail on the circuits is also inconsistent. Some tracks look great with a lot of track side detail and realistic lighting patterns. However, the majority of normal daylight circuits suffer from flat lighting and night races suffer from washed out lighting and poor draw distance. In the wet, there's very little spray from other bikes and the riders suffer from a lack of detail. In the normal chase camera, there are no animations for a rider's arms when adjusting the throttle or brakes and no animations on the rider's feet when changing gear; I thought this would be a necessary inclusion as it adds so much to the game's realism.

Visually, MotoGP 10/11 is appealing but not mind-blowing, with a few nice particle effects and clean driver animations. Some of the tracks are lacking a few details, such as tracks that have alternate configurations (Twin Ring Motegi, Mugello, etc.). The bits of tarmac that connect those sections are absent from the tracks in-game, which seems a bit weird. The amount of options in career mode means that gamers spend a considerable amount of time navigating menus, and while they're serviceable they lack the polish and flow you might expect from other developers in the genre.

As I raced through the game I found the same issues fast paced games always seem to have. There are frame-rate issues scattered throughout the game, most disturbingly online. Perhaps it was just the connection that day but multiple times I had an insane amount of chop, rendering any race impossible. Offline was a much better experience, but issues were still present. The frame-rates were much more consistent, but there was evidence of screen tearing and some anti-aliasing issues. I’m not one to bemoan the odd inconsistency, but all of these issues should be a thing of the past especially on the high horse power PS3. Overall the game looks decent enough, but there are deeper issues if you want to see them.

One other item is the riders themselves. While I don’t follow the sport as much as some people I did like that I could recognize the odd rider. Not by name mind you, but a couple of times I thought “oh yeah I remember him.” For me, being able to connect with riders that look a lot like their real-life counterparts is a highlight to an otherwise pretty ordinary looking game.

Sound

I’m a believer of great sound overcoming some shortfalls of game play. I say this because MotoGP’s gameplay is fairly solid, but the sound is a little suspect. The sound effects are well-captured, with all the bikes having their own distinct sounds. Although the engine sounds seem a bit tinny, even a bit wimpy. I loved hearing the bikes in the rain as well — the wet weather is unmistakeable.

The music isn't too intrusive, but it is also forgettable. There really isn’t too much I liked about the tunes; in fact I turned them down as I raced.

Gameplay

Not many sports video game series offer you two seasons for the price of one; in fact other than Capcom and Monumental Games MotoGP series, there is no other. The game ships with the riders, teams, and tracks from the previous year’s season and then subsequently adds the current season’s line-up via free DLC in the months following release. This interesting model was introduced with last year’s Moto GP game and is in stark contrast to traditional`1 releases for any of the licensed motor-sport games. The season update for MotoGP 09/10 arrived in July last year, originally the game released in March. For the 10/11 season you get to play the new game in time for the new season (which starts in Qatar), but for a month or so you’ll also be playing with outdated teams, riders, and tracks. Overall not really a big deal.

For the uninitiated, MotoGP is a fast paced motor-sport series that aims to give motorcycle racing fans the same kind of virtual treatment their automotive brethren receive on a regular basis. If you think about it car racing fans feast on a plethora of car based racing games. Need for Speed, Gran Turismo, the Forza series are a few of them. While fans of two-wheeled racers subsist on a much more meagre diet.

2010/11 MotoGP starts with all bikes unlocked right off the hop. That means that if you want to jump onto a GP class crotch rocket and hurtle yourself down the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca, there's nothing stopping you. Of course a relative newbie like myself can be a tad over confident, which will result in horrific spills and accidents. Seasoned players will appreciate having the bikes available, especially since last year's entry lacked this time-saving feature. The game sets up with the familiar game modes: Championship, Time Trial, Challenge, Career, and Online.

Championship mode allows players to live vicariously through their favourite driver, battling their way through a full season in an attempt to take the gold. Time Trial pits gamers against themselves and their track of choice, allowing the player to choose between custom machines in their own garage and the licensed vehicles the pros ride. The Challenge mode is as the name suggests, as it pits you against the clock. Smooth driving awards a few precious seconds on an ever-dwindling clock and bragging rights for being able to outlast everyone else on the leader boards.

Career mode is where most gamers are going to spend their time. The mode carries over some innovative additions from 09/10. For example, every race consists of a practice session, a qualifying session, ending finally with the actual race day. You'll be graded for each of these sessions from A to E, depending on your performance. You'll be awarded points for things like overtaking, slipstreaming, and staying on the track, and you'll lose points for being overtaken, causing collisions, or using the game's Second Chance feature. The Second Chance feature is like the rewind feature from Forza 3; it allows players to repeat a section of the track should they feel like they need too. This feature is helpful if you get bumped or perhaps take a turn too wide; it’s a bit of legal cheating if you will. Inexperienced players might find it useful as turn-in and braking points are much different on a bike, even if you think you know the track from previous experience in other games. Your crew chief will also task you with random objectives to be met within certain sections of the track; maintain a specified average speed, a particular racing line to name a couple. These objectives and how well you do in them will also affect your final grade.

Every race awards you experience points, which in turn awards you new perks like upgrades and sponsorships. The way these are handled, though, is where things get interesting. After a certain level you're tasked with choosing a marketing manager to handle the branding and secure sponsorships for your team. How well this team member performs will depend on his/her individual level. A higher level manager will get better deals than a lower level manager, a Level Four marketing manager will attract and sign better deals than a Level Two manager. This also goes for other team members, like engineers. You also have to keep in mind that all the extra people on your team will be paid on a regular basis, meaning you have to make sure that your budget will allow for research into chassis upgrades and engineer’s salaries. Better driving also gives you a better reputation, which in turn allows you to add more slots to your team. This allows for more freedom to allocate resources as you see fit, providing you have enough money to keep the team afloat. This adds another layer of realism to what might otherwise have been a pretty standard career progression. I found the system somewhat confusing although rewarding after getting the hang of my finances, the level of realism is quite detailed.

I found the game's difficulty levels to be just that. Easy is probably the level I like the best, but insane is just nuts. Even the game's developers admit insane is for the veteran diehards that love the game with zero assists on, tasking players with managing both a manual transmission and two sets of brakes; extremely tough indeed. Gamers used to the relative simplicity of car racing games will feel the need to turn on a few assists. As I raced I found that the handling model, while not entirely “sim,” should be satisfying for anyone; those willing to take off the training wheels are in for a wild ride. I liked that some items can be toggled on and off on the fly. Tire wear is a most important example, especially for throttle happy driving at the beginning of a race, which will result in uneven tire.

Should you decide to take your skills online, you'll find a myriad of options here too, with races that support up to twenty players simultaneously. You can also watch should you choose not to participate.

There are some most annoying standalone flaws in the game as well. Of note, other racers on the track always seem to have a higher top speed regardless of how fast you are going or what gear ratios you are running, which makes straightaways aggravating. You just never seem to catch up let alone go by them. The Career mode is based on a timeline that includes paydays for your staff and research project completions. However, to advance the time line you must load the next race, which means you wait to load, exit out to actually apply the results of the research, and then load back into the race. A bit of nit-picking perhaps, but annoying nonetheless.

Most importantly is the game's control scheme. I’m not a great fan of the PS3 controller, but it does work well for MotoGP. There are quite a few button configurations to master and tinker with but I found them to be quite manageable. If there is anything to pick about it is the analog stick. I really thought it was imprecise at times, almost lagging a bit in certain situations. There were other times where it felt overly sensitive, swinging the bikes back and forth with way too much ease for my liking; but overall I thought it was pretty well executed.


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