Motorcycles, motorcycles, and motorcycles! If you have no interest in the vehicle I just said three times, disregard this writing piece as you won’t care for it. For those of you on the other end, you may find a mildly fun experience can be found in MotoGP 10/11. The reason I say mildly leans on the factors that this game targets real (nut job) motorcycle fans and the lack of variety in the game itself. It’s almost as Monumental Games modeled the structure of MotoGP 10/11 after the Sega classic Super Hold-On. Almost. You don’t have many choices for game modes but what can be found in those modes is a respectable motorcycle racing simulation.
The true core of MotoGP 10/11 is the career mode. Like other sports games you can manage your player’s staff, possessions, and decisions. You’ll start off naming things (name, team name, number) to choosing other things (bikes, staff, sponsorships, home track) but it’s hard to look past these customizations as more than just “things”. You’ll be narrated to choose/hire PR managers, engineers, sponsorships, research projects, bike designs, upgrades, and similar options throughout your career but it can get down right tedious at times because all those things stem from your performance on the race track. Eventually you won’t care what bike you ride or who you hire…as long as you can race! Luckily, with career mode you can experience all the motorcycle racing MotoGP 10/11 has to offer.
Before each race you’ll be asked to choose a difficulty level, amount of laps, and tire wear. The higher the amount you choose for each option, the more points/rewards you’ll receive for your rider to spend (career mode). This option can keep the gameplay fresh and realistic so you don’t dominate or lose every race. There are four different types of difficulty properly named gentle, moderate, severe, and insane. Each step up in difficulty level reduces the amount of “aid assist” you’ll receive in braking, turning, and balancing. Be warned though…choosing the insane difficulty will bring the danger of real Moto racing into your life!
You can choose tracks (or defaulted them for career mode) from all over the world and each one is designed according to its location in the world. This is evident from the very first track you play on whether it’s in Indianapolis or the UK. You probably won’t come to appreciate the level design though, until after you master the controls and game mechanics. That is easier said than done in this game.
If you are racing in career mode, you’ll have the option to practice a track, qualify on it, and then finally race on it. Once all that mumbo jumbo is over and done with the true quality of the game shines in its gameplay elements. Your main focus will always be on the throttle (R2), front brake (L2), rear/back brake (square), and steering (left analog stick). Combine those controls with the guiding line you see (on the lesser difficulties) on the track and you’ll have all the requirements you need to race.
This guiding line is a two part aid assist. The first aid of the line tells you where you should be on the track to gain the maximum amount of speed and acceleration. The second aid tells you how fast you should be riding while following the line based on its color. Green means “accelerate”, yellow-orange means “start slowing down”, and red means “slow down you idiot” based on your place on the track. For example, you’ll see the line change to red on turns and change green on straightaways. It is a simple process yet fun and invigorating when its executed accordingly.
However, when it is executed accordingly will come a lot less than you think. Mastering the controls is one thing but putting up with them is another. Your first challenge will be knowing when to slow down, turn at what angle, and know what controls to perform on corners. If you are even the slightest bit off expect to careen into sand, grass, or a wall causing you to take wild out of control turns. The next problem is getting use to the steering. Overall, it isn’t very fluid or precise since the left analog stick rotates very easily. This leads to quite a bit of wobbling after recovering from what was most likely a horrible turn. It is only once you have patience and master these problems will you truly experience what this game has to offer, an accelerated vehicular thrill ride. Eventually you’ll get into the more advanced controls of leaning into your turns and even showboating with the D-pad!
The graphics are good or what you would expect from a racing game. The in-game character models could use some work but you hardly focus on that since MotoGP 10/11 is all about racing. The same cannot be said for the physics. If you end up on sand, grass, or any other substance that isn’t tar, you won’t see an imprint proving you were actually there. It is a small complaint but takes out the fun (if there is any) of going off track. Another trifle involving realistic interaction takes place when riders and their bikes collide. If a tire/frame skids against another bike don’t expect to see any vehicle stall or fall over. You can basically hockey check some riders and barge your way through to 1st place without a scratch. Fortunately, when you do crash there is the “second chance” feature. Simply press the select button when you crash and you’ll enter an instant reply like screen. You can then rewind the race to a point before you crashed and try that scenario again! This can be very helpful to the point of you questioning why this isn’t in other racing games.
What can be most bothersome is the catchy and well tuned soundtrack. The problem pertains to the music not being viewable from the settings menu nor can you see a track’s name when it plays. So all these bands and artists aren’t really getting featured for fans to race to. On the other hand the sounds of engines running, opponents passing you by, and the few crashes you’ll have are very noticeable and enveloping.
After the repetitive nature of career mode is over, there are only a few more game modes to choose from which is quite dull. World championship is like career mode without the career, challenge mode is the classic “finish the race with a countdown timer”, and time trial is basically a “ghost” mode where you race a ghost of yourself to beat your personal best times. Multiplayer doesn’t really add anything new besides the fact that you’re racing other gamers. There is only a quick match, custom match, create a match, and a splitscreen option. The only thing unique about the online portion of MotoGP 10/11 is not just gamers voting on maps but also the weather conditions, how many laps, tire wear, etc. When you get down to it though, career mode is where most of your fun will be had.
With great gameplay (once you’ve mastered the controls) and not enough “meat” to the game, MotoGP 10/11 is for the motorcycle racing fanatics only. Plus, having a sub par multiplayer that doesn’t really extend the game’s drive will make newcomers to the genre cringe at the $40 they spent. But if you are the kind of person who went out of their way to have a Moto Racing channel on your cable box…then this game is the best simulator for your entertainment.