Born to be Mild
Imagine looking under the hood of a Ferrari and finding a cartoon hamster running on a wheel. That’s how I feel about MotoGP 09/10. It has the look, and it’s filled with features, but the actual feel of the bikes is not convincing. The game combines sim and arcade elements but, unfortunately, the arcade feel should not relegate the feel of the bikes. They don’t have much of a sense of weight, something that’s annoyingly noticeable when leaning into a turn. MotoGP 09/10 is filled with a great variety of challenges, but the first challenge to conquer is the floaty feel of the bikes. The second greatest challenge is to keep from getting bored.
I’m not disappointed MotoGP 09/10 is less sim than other MotoGP titles, I just want a good feel when racing my vehicle. That’s not to say the bikes are easy to control, as they do take some practice. Once you get the hang of the control system, you can push these babies and not worry about losing control as the arcade physics of the bikes is very forgiving, but at the same time you don’t have the finesse of the sim. The sensitive nature of handling a two-wheeled vehicle feels very artificial. The parameters of the control scheme are set in such a way that there is a hard line you don’t want to cross. There is very little warning to indicate that you’re pushing the controls too far. As long as you stay in the ballpark, there is plenty of room for error, but it would be nice if there was some kind of incremental indicator to warn when you’re approaching the threshold of disaster.
MotoGP 09/10 is loaded with features. There’s plenty to take your mind off of the handling issues. For instance, there are lots of modes including split-screen multiplayer and a 20-player online mode. However, the crux of the biscuit is the Career mode. Here you’ll have to work your way up the hard way. Nothing is handed to you. You’ll begin with an anemic 125cc bike and attempt to win races and complete challenges to earn more money to upgrade and unlock new bikes and tracks. There’s a good deal of micromanagement involved here, but, fortunately, the menu system makes it easy to understand and navigate. Not only will you have upgrades such as suspension, engines, tires, and breaks, but you’ll also be dabbling in human upgrades as you choose publicists, managers, and mechanics.
Mechanical engineers will keep your bike running in tiptop shape. Engineers will be able to adapt new technologies to your bike to improve its performance. The better the engineer, the better your bike will perform. The actual increase in performance will be seen in increased speed and a more pronounced arcade forgiveness. It will also be reflected in a seemingly slower and ultimately beatable A.I., but that’s not always the case. The A.I. is inconsistent. During the beginning of the race, and especially during qualifying, they’ll make some serious mistakes, such as crashing into the wall, and then overtake you near the end of the race. Thankfully, you don’t necessarily have to win each and every race to progress.
Another way to get money for your mechanical and human upgrades is through sponsorship. These corporations will expect varying levels of competence to keep you in the money, such as coming in the top eight or avoiding any major collisions. As with other upgrades, the better publicists you have, the better sponsorships you’ll be offered. Strategy comes in to play when determining where to put your money. You can’t go wrong with a faster bike and new tires that can really grip the track.
Reputation is an attribute that you’ll acquire or lose depending on your performance. If you get into too many accidents or allow too many opponents to pass you, your Reputation will suffer. Conversely, if you’re burning up the track, you’ll earn plenty of Rep points which can be used to increase your staff. Your Rep points, along with just about anything else you can imagine, is displayed on the screen. There’s really no reason for the Rep points to be displayed so prominently. Visual real estate is a commodity, so get in the options menu and start streamlining that HUD.
The game employs a motion blur on the scenery to simulate speed. Considering how good the licensed bikes and the tracks look, it a shame to smear them.
If you’re down with the arcade feel, the game is fast and fun, with very little down time. Even when you get bumped by another bike you don’t typically lose control. And when you do make a serious blunder, there’s the rewind feature that allows you to start over at a point before you got into trouble. You will lose Rep points each time you use it, though. Extra speed can be obtained by using the “tuck.” It’s accessed by the push of a button. By making the rider crouch, air friction is reduced to a ridiculously unrealistic degree, giving you up to a 25-mph boost. Using the tuck is the key to finishing first in most races.
MotoGP 09/10 forces you to unlock bikes in the Career mode before you can use them in the other modes. You can get your hands on a few different bikes in the Time Trials mode, but if you want to play with the big boys, you’re going to have to get them the hard way.
The online multi-player mode is not without its flaws; I didn’t always find a match, and I was booted out of the server more than a few times. When I did get into a race, it was a lot more fun than the Career mode, but after a couple of hours I was getting bored. Unfortunately, that’s how I felt about every mode in this game. MotoGP 09/10 has just about everything you could want, except that elusive magic that makes a good game great.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
Great looking licensed bikes with smooth animation. Motion blur is awful. 2.2 Control
The bikes have very little sense of weight. Steering is a bit touchy. 3.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Bikes sound good, but the tunes are generic-sounding. 3.1 Play Value
Fun for a few hours but it loses it flavor quickly. 3.2 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.