Straddling the uneasy ground between sim and arcade racer is MotoGP 10/11, the latest instalment in Capcom’s popular series. Automatically it claims the position, left by its predecessor, of best motorbike racing game but is it any good? Yes and no. It’s a very solid effort and within precious inches of being something really special but it lacks a bit of much needed personality.[boxout]It’s clear from the outset that MotoGP 10/11’s career mode is trying to do for bikes what Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo did for cars. The wealth of RPG style options is pretty impressive. A cheery voice sounding a little like Danny Wallace (it’s not though) guides you through everything you need to know from bike controls to how scoring works and what staff are needed for what tasks. Each option is gradually unlocked meaning the career mode is far from intimidating. Indeed, it all feels rather exciting at first.
You can hire PR managers and engineers. The engineers thus enabling you to research new parts before upgrading your bike. It’ll come in handy too as in early races, even if you’re any good, you’ll find yourself not necessarily winning thanks to speedier bikes ahead. It’s all really rather reminiscent of Gran Turismo, gradually working your way up the rankings. Even friendly fake ‘Danny Wallace’ is happy to point out that anything above 10th is a good race for you. As you work your way up though, so to do you acquire more money and better staffing options.
Wild card races spring up too often, offering much more money than one of the championship races. A reputation level, coupled with achievements that spur you on, and sponsorship deals based on your success appear to ensure you know that you’re working your way up the field.[drop]The career mode is lengthy and clearly the meaty part of the game. It’s also the mode that reminds you what a cold and clinical game MotoGP 10/11 is. Once all the fancy features have been unlocked, you’ll find yourself dipping into it for an hour or two session rather than hours on end. The elements that are there are solid enough but it lacks passion and character. You’ll find yourself progressing through a few races at a time then you’ll find you’re not playing as well because your mind has wandered. There’s not even any soundtrack to speak of, a perhaps small but nonetheless important touch to any great racing game. MotoGP 10/11 entirely focuses on the technical side of racing. This is both a blessing and a curse.
The sheer array of assists that you can switch on or off depending on your ability is dazzling and fantastic to see. It’s the first game in the series to offer so much fine tuning and it really is hugely useful. While you can simply adjust the difficulty level to anything between gentle and insane (and it shows), you can also adjust how much the game is going to help you. Do you stick the anti wheelie, auto brake and auto tuck in controls on, thus ensuring you never really fall off unless you’re a total idiot, or do you control your own biking destiny? It’s amazing what a difference having one or more of them on can do to your performance.
MotoGP 10/11 does a great job of demonstrating the importance of weight balance, tucking in and not treating it like an arcade racer. Then it messes up. Collisions are sometimes just how you’d expect, painful and plain old essential to avoid. Other times, it’s as if nothing ever happened. It’s inconsistent. It’s irritating. Ultimately it’s disappointing when so much hard work has been put into the rest of the game.
Much like the previous MotoGP game, there’s no sign of the dual stick controls of previous games in the series. There is some adjustment needed if you’re used to car racing games though with the need for two brakes (front and back brakes) as well as a tuck in button to ensure extra speed on the straights (which can be switched to automatic if you so wish). There’s also a second chance button which has seemingly become all the rage in the racing genre, enabling you to control time and go back a few seconds to correct your mistake. Do bear in mind that you will be penalised style points though, which in turn affect how quickly you level up through the ranks. That and you’ll secretly know that you’ve let yourself down. Or maybe that’s just me.[drop2]There’s more to MotoGP 10/11 than the career mode of course. There’s the World Championship side of things which is basically the same as career mode but without the fiddly staff/sponsor/upgrade management side of things. Challenge mode and time trials goes in the direction of arcade style play with lots of battling against the clock. Challenge mode is rather enjoyable as you’re forever competing against the clock with precious seconds added when you do something well such as maintain a perfect racing line or slipstream behind an opponent for a while. It’s tough at first but immensely satisfying after a time, once you realise it’s vital that you don’t make a mistake.
The ability to play co-operatively via local split screen is a great touch for the career mode and infinitely makes for a more enjoyable experience. Online multiplayer is also possible with up to 20 players able to compete in a championship race and the promise of being able to spectate too. This wasn’t possible to test before release, unfortunately, but it sounds rather promising.
The problem is that MotoGP 10/11 feels confused. It’s too technical to be an arcade racer and too punishing with all assists off, but in turn it’s not as technically accomplished as it should be to be considered a true sim. With only 17 tracks, it feels limited and weather options are even more limited with only options for dry, rainy and night conditions. Again, another nod to not being a ‘proper’ sim. The style points also convey the feeling of a Project Gotham Racing rather than a F1 2010.
- Career mode feels pretty comprehensive and will last you a long time
- Split screen local co-op
- Graphically impressive
- Plenty of options to get the experience that you want
- Lacks personality
- Not enough tracks
- Few weather options
Remember years ago when Gran Turismo 2 came on two discs? One arcade disc, one sim/career disc? Maybe that’s what MotoGP 10/11 needs. It’s the nearest to a bike equivalent of Forza that you’re going to get for now but it still feels like it needs a little more work to be a true must have. Roll on MotoGP 11/12, it could finally be what every bike fan is eager for.