Few games can induce controller-clinching, adrenaline-secreting play sessions as well as a proficiently programmed racer. From trying to nail the perfect drift to edging out an opponent across the checkered line, superlative entries in the genre can often offer a steady supply of exhilaration for speed junkies. Although franchises such as Forza and Project Gotham receive the lion’s share of publicity, enthusiasts of two-wheeled motorsports have followed the fluctuating career of Moto GP, as it has bounced around both developers and publishers.
Development duties for this year’s iteration of Moto GP were handling by Monumental Games, a studio formulated by several key Climax Racing staff (Moto GP ’06 and ATV Offroad Fury 4). Monumental’s most fundamental change to the series was the elimination of the series twin-stick steering model, which often served to unnecessarily daunt newcomers accustomed to the typical single stick scheme of most auto racers. While Moto GP 09/10’s control is decidedly more intuitive, there’s still enough complexity to garner gratification from racing aficionados, and allow to title to feel remarkably different from the glut of four-wheeled competitors currently on the market.
Motorcycle racing requires players to modify their deep-seated instincts, compelling riders to meticulously calculate their trajectory through every curve. As such, nailing a turn in Moto MP 09/10 feels like a diminutive triumph, as a miscalculation in speed or turning radius can easily turn into a time penalty, or even worse- a demoralizing crash. Even take-offs can be tricky for newbies, as sudden accelerations can send bikes front wheel airborne. Fortunately, 09/10 allows riders to shift their weight around the bike, with a push or pull of the left analog stick.
Like any respectable racer, success in Moto GP 09/10 depends upon track familiarity and vehicular competency. Skilfully, the title includes two assists that are rapidly becoming requisites for the genre- a dynamic racing line and the ability to rewind time. The first feature displays each track’s ideal route, while giving participants constant visual feedback on their speed. A glowing red streak signals players that they are approaching the curve with excessive speed, while a white line indicates a proper pace. Gamers seeking additional tutelage may download the racing lines and ghosts for any leaderboard holders to glean microsecond-shaving tips from Moto GP’s elite. The second in-game aid allows players to retry a poorly judged turn or collision-inducing crash with a press of the back button, handy for any tarmac-tearing neophyte.
Collectively, the game’s four play modes present a respectable recreation of the motor sport’s diverse facets. Career mode tasks players with managing a racing team, handling aspects as varied as hiring race managers and press officers who can extend advice and garner manufacturer sponsorships. Championship mode offers a seventeen week season of racing, where gamers can pick between one of three engine classes. Although Moto GP 09/10 offers an arcade mode, where players earn additional lap time by passing checkpoints (similar to OutRun), the game’s especially frugal with its allotment of additional seconds. While this variation could have been a welcome avenue for apprentices, instead the Arcade component is best suited for those with a robust amount of racing proficiency. For those seeking human competition, Moto GP’s twenty player online contests are lag-free and generally solid, although finding fully occupied competitions was sporadically problematic.
Visually, Moto GP 09/10 offers an extremely fast and fluid experience, delivering the requisite sense of break-neck speed when racing the title’s 800 cc beasts. Pressing the right bumper toggles through three viewpoints- a pair of third-person perspectives, and an uninspired first-person mode with an optional camera sway effect. While the title’s bikes are competently rendered, extra attention was applied to each of the realistically animated riders, who shift their weight around convincingly. Aurally, 09/10 is a mixed bag, with a barrage of rock music tracks, rudimentary commentary, and respectable engine sounds used to serenade circuit racers.
Moto GP 09/10 is a pleasing title that carefully straddles the precarious gap between simulation and arcade racer. Players looking for a title that proficiently conveys the exhilaration of conquering a slippery S-curve while not being prohibitively complicated, should enjoy the game’s skillful poise. Capcom’s commitment to offer free DLC to replicate the riders, tracks, bikes and events of the 2010 season is to be commended, and might just be enough of an enticement for fans to take Moto GP 09/10 out for an extended test drive.