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MotoGP 10/11 (XBOX 360)

MotoGP 10/11 (XBOX 360)

MOTO GP 10/11 (XBOX 360) Review

MotoGP 10/11 (XBOX 360) Review

Over the years the premier motorcycle racing championship, MotoGP, has paled in comparison to that of its car racing alternative. Formula 1 which has consistently attracted the bigger audience, the bigger sponsorship deals and the bigger brands. That said MotoGP has always appealed to the true racing fanatics and petrol heads who long for nothing more than thrills, spills and all the excitement they can handle. And it doesn’t get much more exciting than watching 20 ambitious – and crazy – riders bomb around a track at speeds in excess of 200 MPH. The one man who does that better than any other is the Italian wizard Valentino Rossi; 6 time MotoGP champion and the undisputed king of two wheeled racing.

Throughout his career Valentino has been the most dominant racer on the grid, blowing away challengers to the throne whilst maintaining the sort of class and charisma that sets him apart from the rest, yet after a hugely successful streak the 2010 season brought its fair share of despair. In a way Rossi’s career echo’s that of the MotoGP series of video games, the latest of which is being released to coincide with the start of the 2011 season. After some glorious releases when spearheaded by development studio Climax, the initial attempt to recreate that success by Monumental flattered to deceive, yet with a new found passion and desire to succeed, can the the development studio take the honours?

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Gameplay
Last years attempt from Monumental proved to be a mixed bag, despite containing plenty of brilliant features the enjoyment was reduced thanks to some obvious problems. 10/11 though feels entirely different from the offset and it’s clear that the studio have worked hard at releasing the paramount MotoGP title. Essentially Monumental have aimed to create the most comprehensive and realistic motorcycle racing simulator to date, with an all new handling system and improved physics engine hurtling around Silverstone at 180MPH feels almost like the real thing, in fact when we switched the fan in front of us onto full power we were almost certain we had mounted our Yamaha R1 somewhere between the menu and the racing grid.

The only problem with things being realistic is, well, it’s actually pretty difficult to ride a motorcycle and even more difficult to ride one at breakneck speed around some of the most difficult racing tracks on the planet. Time and time again we would begin a race in idyllic fashion only to find ourselves chomping gravel at the first corner with another riders bike grazing our behind. It takes a lot trial and error – mostly error – before players can call themselves competent racers and someone with the patience of a saint to become a seasoned pro, such is the learning curve. Therefore, for anyone new to the game it’s highly advisable to use each and every one of the in-game assists. These range from traction control to assisted braking and using these will introduce players to the complexities of the game gradually, rather than tossing them into the deep end. Of course having these features switched on will prevent players from enjoying the full MotoGP experience, instead offering a watered down version of racing which wouldn’t be out of place in an Arcade.

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All three single player game modes from the 09/10 release have returned including Career Mode, Championship Mode and Time Trial Mode. In Championship Mode players are given the opportunity to play out an entire MotoGP season in either of the three classes and as any of the iconic racers currently battling it out for honours. More authentic AI has been introduced which means each rider has their own racing style and mentality, creating a different hurdle to overcome every time we took to the track whilst also giving the players who take pride in their preparation the chance to get one over on the pack by developing new strategies to overcome even the feistiest of opponents. The major difference in this release is that every rider is available from the beginning, a change to the feature that disappointed fans in 09/10. This means that players won’t have to play for ages on the lower performance bikes before they can control the Rossi’s, the Lorenzo’s or the Stoner’s. The online mode also offers plenty of excitement as players will have the opportunity to compete with up to 20 opponents online, battling for supremacy on the track of their choice.

Career mode does what it says on the tin. Players will create their own character and choose one of two teams to race for in the 125cc division. They must then work their way through the ranks earning respect points along the way, awarded for clean overtakes, cleared sections of the track and more whilst dangerous and reckless driving will result in point deduction. Once enough respect has been built up players are able to upgrade things like their staff and motorcycles whilst also opening up new sponsorship opportunities or, in time, opportunities with different racing teams. Throughout the season players can customise their bikes almost completely, ranging from gear ratios to suspension and tyres, a huge plus point for the avid motorcyclists out there. There is also the opportunity to play in a two player career. Using split screens players will race together sharing the same goals and targets. By far our favourite game mode though was Challenge Mode in which players must complete a lap of a track within a set time limit, extra time will be granted to players who drive well, completing sections properly and driving properly whilst for those who throw caution to the wind time will be deducted. It’s a great and addictive way to help new players learn the ropes and one that becomes extremely challenging as time goes on.

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On top of numerous enveloping and comprehensive game modes MotoGP 10/11 actually delivers on the racing front too, unlike its predecessor. As mentioned earlier when all aides are active handling can feel arcade like, a problem that plagued previous titles. Creating an authentic yet accessible motorcycle racing simulator is incredibly difficult and a fine line to walk that sways between annoyingly realistic – in which players find themselves chewing tarmac at every corner – and annoyingly unrealistic – in which, like previous titles, handling feels distant and gameplay becomes tiresome. Monumental have done fantastically with 10/11 and we felt a lovely sense of satisfaction almost every time we successfully manoeuvred a particularly treacherous corner. It’s not until players find themselves in the thick of it that they will be able to appreciate just how good the game is. AI seems to have the perfect balance of aggression and courtesy whilst trying to find a route through the tight and compact pack can be highly challenging and rewarding. For the first time in many years we felt uneasy when accelerating and cautious when braking, gone is the "brake late, see ya mate" mentality, replaced instead by a need to follow the racing lines to the dot. It all adds to the feeling of discomfort, and in turn excitement, when playing MotoGP 10/11.

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Graphics
If there is one weak point in 10/11 it’s the graphics. Despite all of the advancements of modern technology and the capabilities of modern console systems the game still looks like it’s being played on a low spec console. Although bikes and riders look fantastic, especially during a race where their movement represents the real thing almost exactly – from the riders body struggling to cope with the power of the bike or the bikes jitter as it exits a corner – the tracks look extremely drab and are rarely brought to life. Despite looking drab and dull the tracks are represented exactly like they are in real life, from the tiniest bump in the tarmac to the length of the blades of grass everything is as precise as possible. Even each ray of sunlight on each track is a particle physics simulation based on light wave analysis carried out by Cambridge University boffins. It’s real. Really real.

One genius introduction to the game is the colour palette which changes in accordance to the race. Players will notice the game brighten slightly as they perform better, for example overtaking an opponent while being overtaken will cause some desaturation.

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Audio
One of the major gripes people had with the previous incarnation of the game was the engine sounds. A uniform buzzing seemed to accompany every bike on the track which would eventually drive people mad.

This time though Monumental have done it properly. Each bike’s engine sound has been recorded and recreated to sound exactly like the real thing. So the deep, buzzing drone of the Ducati hums in perfect harmony with the high pitched, heart stopping yelp of the Yamaha as players zip past us on the track. It’s an internal combustion symphony and one that could replace a soundtrack should the developers have decided to leave one out. That would be lazy though and Monumental have been anything but that in creating MotoGP 10/11, so we still have a number of high energy tracks to keep us occupied when off the track.

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Summary
Driving a motorcycle requires so much feel it becomes an extension of the body, there are so many variables when trying to recreate this that we will most likely never be able to enjoy a perfect, realistic motorcycle experience in game, it’s an impossible task. However when it comes to creating a racing simulator that will transport players onto the saddle of their favourite bikes, offering them something challenging, exciting, intense yet enjoyable Monumental have pretty much cracked it. The game takes every good feature from last years release and adds a whole lot of the main thing that was lacking, realism. The fact that the first batch of FREE DLC will be made available shortly after the 2011 season gets underway will only add to that.

For the first time in a number of years we were excited to take on the next track and felt overcome by a sense of euphoria every time we overtook one of our opponents, this is down to the fact that the MotoGP series has finally taken that leap out of the "Arcade" racing simulator market that has held it captive for so long. Yes the learning curve is steep and yes sometimes the ride can be unforgiving, but once players have learned the basics the rewards are fantastic.

Gameplay 95/100 The disconnect between player and bike found in last years game is gone, this time bikes are responsive, difficult to manage, and thoroughly exciting to ride.
Graphics 80/100 The only real let down of MotoGP 10/11, although riders looked classy the tracks were bland and dull. Yet what they lacked in sparkle they made up for in realism, with every bump measuring up to the real life counterpart precisely.
Audio 90/100 With engine sounds recorded and recreated perfectly it’s almost like watching the real thing. Added to an upbeat and high energy soundtrack we chose to keep the volume turned way up.
Value 90/100 With a super addictive challenge mode and enveloping career mode – for one or two players – the game isn’t short of content. Add that to the hugely fun online multiplayer mode and it’s well worth the money.
Overall
(Not an Average)
90/100 The best next-gen motorbike racing simulator to date. Superb realism, stunning recreation of engine sounds and the judicious attention to detail create an immersive and brilliant racer capable of standing up to any on the market today.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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