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MotoGP 10/11

10:0715/03/2011Posted by Simeon PaskellOne Comment

While car racing sims have been pre-occupied with one-up-manship or (in Gran Turismo 5’s case) simply trying to make it onto shop shelves, the superbike simulating MotoGP series has been busy revving its engines and charging headlong down its own niche. It has certainly been prolific, with MotoGP 10/11 marking the fifth entry in the series for this generation alone; but has this latest yearly update led to a critical turning point for the series, or should race fans simply wind up their windows and drive on?

MotoGP 10/11 upholds the series’ reputation for having a steep difficulty curve; make no mistake, newcomers raised on a racing-diet of powerslides, turbo boosts and airborne banana skins will find themselves being chewed up and spat out, as they inevitably spend their first few hours with the game spinning off the track and witnessing their virtual rider’s face being ground into the tarmac. It’s a baptism of fire that can test both your patience as much as your racing abilities, with the game making only cursory expeditions into the realms of being considered ‘fun’ on the handful of straights that give you the time and space to needed open up the throttle and achieve adrenaline-rushing top speeds. Such moments prove to be an all too brief respite from the teeth-gnashingly tough cornering.

Persevere, however, and the game’s mechanics – and its unique demands – slowly but surely begin to make sense, as you begin to leave quaint frivolities such as powersliding behind and gain a degree of control over the bikes’ weighty physics. Most importantly, you realise that the key to success lies not in jamming your throttle on full and hanging on for dear life, but in restraint; in your proficiency in braking and in being able to maintain a laser-like focus on the racing line. Helpfully, the latter is marked out on the track and you will quickly come to rely on the support it offers, informing you as it does of the optimum route around the tracks as well as how you should be adjusting your speed. Stray too far from its guidance and its back off the track you go!

The demands that the game places on you might sound horribly restrictive/frustrating – and, in honesty for some it might prove to be exactly that – but Monumental Games’ commitment to simulation is clear throughout. The developer also does much to ease your experience this time around with the inclusion of numerous, customisable riding aids (or ‘Assists’); everything from the control of one or both of your brakes, the manipulation of your rider’s weight-distribution and tucking-in on the straight can be automated, allowing you to concentrate on the all important racing line. While some may scoff at relinquishing control, for many the assists will prove to be a godsend, allowing players to slowly submerge themselves in the challenge rather than being forced to dive head first into icy waters of gameplay and be left gasping for air.

As a newcomer, should you stick with the game long enough to feel comfortable astride your trusty metallic steed, there is plenty here to keep you occupied. The main menu serves up a World Championship, Career Mode, Challenge Mode, Time Trial and Multiplayer. Most are self explanatory; Challenge Mode replaces MotoGP 09/10’s Arcade mode and pits racers against the clock (bringing back memories of Sega arcade classic Super Hang-On).

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