MotoGP 09/10

It’s difficult to know where to start when talking about MotoGP 09/10. The gameplay, well yes, there’s that. The off-track features, yes they’re good too, but I’ll come to that in a little bit.

The most immediate thing I want to bring to your attention is the title. Everyone knows that Motorsport years are the same as human years so why does this title have “09/10” in it? Well, the answer is multi-barreled, allow me to explain.

The MotoGP support classes have traditionally been 125cc and 250cc 2-stroke racing machines, there are many reasons for this, mostly historical and somewhat because biking petrol-heads love the smell of 2-stroke! This season – the 2010 season, however, things are changing with the introduction of the Moto2 class as a replacement for the 250cc 20 strokes. Moto2 bikes are 600cc 4-strokes, based around a control engine supplied by Honda. This is all well and good, you ask, but what about the game?

So, the point here is that the teams, livery, bike specifications, handling information and even noises are as yet unknown. How then can these be introduced into a game? The clever people behind MotoGP09/10 are going to achieve this in an interesting way – DLC

Downloadable content is nothing new in racing games. We’ve had the various car and track packs for Forza etc and that’s all very interesting but what the DLC for MotoGP 09/10 is going to deliver is actually a whole new section of the game. Also coming down the pipe will be the new liveries, teams and rider information for the MotoGP and 250 bikes too. I’ve some thoughts on this, but that’s a subject for discussion away from here.

So let talk about the game itself. Obviously I’m only able to do the ‘older’ elements so that’s what we’ll look at – it’s enough! At start up the game offers the usual options, a quick race in arcade mode, a championship season riding as your favourite star or career mode in which you play as yourself and work your way up the ladder.

It’s important to note here that the Arcade and Championship modes aren’t all open from day one. There are classes and riders who can only be unlocked by progressing in career mode first. Some may see this as unfair, I think it’s a smart way to make us enjoy the other, off-track features of the game which I’ll come to in just a moment. First though the gameplay and handling itself.

I’ve stated previously that no system is ever going to give the feeling of what it’s like to race a motorbike and that remains true today, MotoGP 09/10 does its best to deal with this and provide the rider with a little understanding that it’s not about pointing the machine in the right direction, it’s about rider position too. Unfortunately, they’ve implemented this in such a way that I ended up using the ‘Tuck in’ position as a method of steering and line control through the corners purely as the best way to make your bike go fastest.

The 125cc class are zingy, pingy, noisy little monsters, capable of a far lick of speed, but unforgiving of any mistakes that you make. The 250cc machines continue this but add a dollop more speed and some real feel of weight during braking and cornering; the big, bad MotoGP bikes are just plain scary! Actually while I’m on the MotoGP sensation, one of the things which did make me grudgingly smile in appreciation at this game was when I was tucked in on the MotoGP bike, blatting down the back straight at Donington Park and I got to that speed where the world gets a little bit hazy and wobbly. This is a sensation I’ve felt in the same place on that track on a couple of different bikes and it was nice to see that there’d been some attention to little details like this.

In general your gaming experience will proceed thus: It’s your first season in career mode and you’ve picked your weapon of choice from the limited selection (two) available to you. You’ve created a team, defined some branding and appointed a Marketing Exec to help get you some sponsors. It’s time to race – after which you will feel niggly, despondent or even pretty pissed off – I know I did. But here’s what you have to remember – you’re not in Kansas any more, Toto, this is racing and your bike is crap!

It’s crap because you, frankly, have no reputation. You’re a rookie and you have no money. Of course it’s crap! Your Marketing guy/gal has however managed to land you a couple of sponsors and they are happy to pay you for qualifying somewhere not last or finishing the race in a similar fashion. Soon, as you plough on with gritted teeth and determination, you’ll be able to employ an engineer and this is where you can start to make progress. Engineers, you see, will undertake research into areas of your bike you want to improve. Now it’s easy to pour research into engine areas in a bid for more speed, but that’s not going to do you any good if the thing wallows like a seal in the corners. You’ll also not be able to do all of the research you want because you simply can’t afford an engineer with high enough qualifications. Research results appear in your calendar and after you’ll begin to see an improvement in your lap times, starting position and results. You’ll gain reputation and more sponsors will come knocking at your door, offering more money;  you do well you get more, you get more you research more and you do even better. Soon you’re qualifying on pole and winning races – see it was worth holding out wasn’t it?

The above is basically the pattern of the game in all three (currently) classes, if you switch manufacturers you lose the research you’ve done so far, but that seems fair to me and you’ll also get into the habit of firing both staff and sponsors when you get someone better coming along. It’s a bit brutal but this is about winning after all.

There are a couple of things I do take issue with though

  1. The voice dude. Yes he has a very nice Scottish accent and it’s great to have that “In research you can…” tutorial when you’re getting started but when your into your third season, I’d really like him to shut the hell up! There is an option to turn off the voices (!) but unfortunately that also impacts the in-race announcements of objectives you can reach to further boost your reputation.
  2. Qualifying riders. There is simply no correlation between what you see on screen in terms of the speed of other riders and their actual performance. On one memorable occasion I had followed a great line through a corner only to have a rider zing past me like I wasn’t moving and hurtle off down the track like a scalded cat. The qualifying results had me on pole and him in…. 23rd!
  3. Sponsor management. I didn’t understand the numbers. Sorry, I’m not a stupid person and maybe there’s a paragraph in the manual which explains this stuff, but I didn’t need it for Grid and I don’t see why I should for this. Simply tell me what the sponsors want and how much they’ll pay me to get it, plus a multiplier for Prime Sponsor position. And why should I lose a sponsor completely if I decide to put another in its spot? Surely they simply remain available to me to reposition, or re-use?
  4. The reputation system. I know there has to be some measure of how ‘good’ one is, but the system implemented is way, WAY too simplistic and narrow. As an example, reputation is gained for holding the right line through a corner – this being achieved be riding through virtual ‘gates’ at the entry, apex and exit. This is great if you’ve got an empty track but if there’s someone else there you lose out on that measure and also – should you clip them – you get marked down for the collision. In race mode it’s also difficult to understand the need to gain reputation in this method – if I’m leading that should be enough surely. And to top it all off, “Showboating” also gains you positive rep – knocked someone off? No problem, just lob up a wheely down the back straight and that’ll cancel it out.

I’ve sort of wound this down in a gripe, which is wrong of me. I do think that MotoGP 09/10 is head and shoulders above the last incarnation, but it seem to be trying too hard in some areas and missing the point in others. If you enjoyed 08, you’ll like 09/10 very much as it is much, much better. If you fancy getting 2 games for the price of one, this might also be a good choice, given the Moto2 classes and new riders / bikes for ’10 will come to you gratis – I’m told.







2 responses to “MotoGP 09/10”

  1. Snozzeltoff avatar

    Is Donnington Park only available in the 2009 season? Because it sure as hell cant be used in 2010 as they’ve changed to Silverstone…. Also midget man Bernie Eccleston has ruined Donnington Park in the whole process, Grrrr

  2. John avatar

    That’s a very good question Snozz’. The download/refresh will certainly have a lot to deal with in order to match the reality of the 2010 season – which in itself re-opens the door on the whole digital purchase discussion. I intend to write upon this in the near future.
    I do miss Donington though, there’s nothing like chucking an old CBR600 into the blind entrance to Coppice and scaring the bejeesus out of Mr “I’m in the fast group because I bought a new R1”! I miss those days….

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