I'm a very dedicated Motorbike enthusiast, I own a motorbike (mind it's only a 125cc, as I can't ride anything larger...by law...yet), I 9/10 times can tell you what the make and model of a motorbike is going past and I love the MotoGP and the Isle of Man TT and essentially anything involving 2 wheels and an engine. Although I usually miss it due to work on the weekends, I'll stream it later to see what happens.
So the obvious choice for a game would of course be a MotoGP game, and I got MotoGP 09/10 before the newest (to date of review) one came out which is MotoGP 10/11, just like Fifa games, they tend to update them every year to include new changes in the game. Considering MotoGP 10/11 has been out for a couple of months (to date of review), and I'm still playing MotoGP 09/10, must mean I am either cheap (well yes) but could also mean this game has got a lot to offer to keep a regular gamers like me entertained for months! Well I wouldn't say entertained but more determined to beat the game than anything else, even though it is near impossible.
When you first get into the game, you are created with the typical Developer/Publisher intros and an Intro video for the game, basically showing all the bikes going around and excitement, explosions and things as such. Then a very simplistic menu comes up where you get to choice which game mode you'd like to go into, Championship, Career, Arcade, Time Trail or Multiplier (Online), all these are basically very similar to each other with minor differences in who you progress through the game and what the goals are of each mode, but if you are looking to milk some achievements from this game, the game requires you to spend a decent few hours in each mode.
This is the first mode I went into when I started up the game. You basically create some Team by selecting a country, your team colours and what bike you want to start off with, since the aim of this mode is to progress through to the high ranks, you start of in the 125cc category and progress through to Moto2 and MotoGP. Have numerous tools to your disposal, this being the team you can build up of Engineers and Press Officers. The Engineers are assigned by you to upgrade your bike and the Press Officers to find you sponsors to pay you money, so you can afford the staff and upgrades to the bike. But what does really annoy me, is the fact that you barely get anywhere with any bikes before the MotoGP part of the career, you'll upgrade about a quarter of the bike and have to dump it for a faster one to participate in the bigger CC Engine events, so honestly, save your money and don't bother.
There are numerous races in each season, each race consisting off a Practise, Qualify and Race. The first 2 aren't necessary but if you wish to rank up to a higher level, they earn you more points, so it's a good idea to do them, and you don't have to sit there for 5 (or however many you set) laps and do them, just 1 is enough to get a grade.
Speaking of grades, yes, you get graded in your performance on the track, it all comes down to if you come first, crash or keep colliding with other racers, if you do good and make nice clean turns (following the line), you'll get an "A" and hence a good amount of points, if not a "C" or a nothing, which is a bit of a waste. It all really depends on how dedicated to the game you are, if you want to just complete it, get the complete career achievement, don't bother but if you want to get a few involving upgrading your bike fully and getting to level 30, I'd start doing them practises.
One major thing in the Career Mode is the fact that you can't Restart a race, once you're in a race, qualifying run or the practice, you're in there until you finish or quit. You've got a "Second Chance" which allows you to rewind the race before you crashed or whatever you wish to skip back on, which is pretty cool as you don't have to keep redoing the whole race, however this does effect you're grade at the end. You may not have crashed (technically since you went back); however the penalty for using Second Chance is as bad or worst in negatively affecting your score.
Overall the career does take a long time to complete, depending on the difficulty setting you choose (the harder it is, the more points you get at the end of the race), it could be from a week or 2, or if you're like me, a good month and a bit of daily play to just complete the career, never mind the Level 30. It does get boring and you've got to be a little mad to stick to it for so long.
This is basically what the whole 2009/2010 thing is about since each game updates the riders and Teams as well as bikes they ride. The concept behind this mode is you select a team you want to race for from the different classes (125cc, 250cc and MotoGP), and once selected you follow the team through the racing season of 2009 or 2010 but you're responsible for their fate since you're racing.
Basically it's just racing through the season and seeing where you come in the end, quite simple.
Unlike Career Mode however, you can "Restart Race "and "Second Chance" isnÂ't present in this mode.
Arcade Mode is quite interesting as I expected it to a basic copy of Championship Mode, however I was happy to see something new in the game which is quite fun in all fairness. Basically its racing (fancy that!) but you've got to keep within the given time, Outrun style, so if you're too slow to get to a checkpoint, you'll be out of the race.
Once again you get to select from different engine sizes and the rides within them teams, exactly like championship mode in essence but the aim of the game is slightly different.
It's quite fun for an experienced player as you can be challenging you're skills as you can't afford mistakes at all within these races, if you fall on your behind, there is no Second Chance or Restart here at all so you've got to suck it up and hope you can make it up.
Speaks for itself really as all you do is exactly like Championship and Arcade mode, select the Engine size of the bike, the team, the track you want to time trail and off you go trying to get the best time possible on the track. There is an achievement involved with this mode, being to get a specific time on a specific track, and that is basically all the experience I have on this mode as it is not something I'd spend my time doing.
---Game Modes Thoughts---
As you can probably tell now, they are all very similar, Career Mode being the most worthwhile doing as it does offer some kind of procession as you can rank up and move up in bikes and have money to spend on things so gives you the Management experience. The rest of the Modes are basically copies of each other with minor differences, I doubt unless you are after some extra achievements that you'd even do more than 2 races in each, as it gets very repetitive, especially if you've just completed Career Mode!
The weather does change quite a bit in this game; you can be racing in nice sunny weather, with dry roads, or maybe slightly wet roads if not a full thunderstorm with the track basically being a puddle. However I have not noticed any different between a drenched track and a dry track in terms of handling, this could be down to me only playing on Moderate difficulty for almost all races, but the difference in minimum if any. Unlike you'd expect, you won't go flying off the bike if you take a turn to sharp or press the brake too much in the wet as much as you would be in the dry, mind this could be down to the difficulty and I could be proven incorrect when playing on insane difficulty.
But nevertheless it's nice to see the weather change on different tracks, as you could be doing a practise on Silverstone in sunshine and be doing the actual race with dreadful rain (typical Britain).
---Quality of Controls---
The controls are quite simple and similar to any other racing game, you press RT to accelerate and LT to apply brake, mind with a motorbike its separate controls for back and front as is carried here with "X" being back brake and LT being front, "A" is to improve aerodynamics (lay on the tank) and of course the Left Analog to steer.
All controls are responsive and do as they should, I can't complain at all as just like with real motorbike racing, your responses are crucial in your success, and you'll eventually get a hang of using the different brakes, although it is easily to get the concept of the back brake being weaker and the front stronger (70% / 30% in fact), but it is a great way to learn.
Manual Gear controls are something else on this game, even though I ride in real life, I could not get the hang of these gears, I think all logic from reality is missing as the gears don't function correctly at all, and will case you to get frustrated even if you're doing it correctly. If you wish to do the Manual Gearing achievement, I'd go on the easiest track (the German one) and the easiest difficulty with 2 laps, you being pole position; otherwise you'll not get anywhere!
Overall, the controls are good (exception of Manual gear changing) and easy enough to understand, the vibration feature being as expected, vibrates on the intensity of the braking or if you go on gravel, and basically everything works fine.
Now this is what the motorbike enthusiasts are after and people who wish to experience racing with as much realism short of actually getting on a bike and doing it.
I can say, that this is just like any racing game, it gives you 2 options, ride the bike in a technical manor, following the guide line showing you when to brake and accelerate (on the easier modes), or you can go off Rambo style and race however you want, which I find being much more effective.
Even though technical riding is much better and you feel you have a better grasp of the game, as you're doing exactly what the real racers are doing, it doesn't get you anywhere fast as you'll be stuck in the gang and getting continuous fines for Collisions as the controls couldn't possibly be sensitive enough to prevent you from touching someone an inch away from you in a turn.
So I've recommend the method only viable in a video game of flooring it before any corner and insure you brake in time at an upcoming turn as not to get on the gravel. This will cause you to drift your bike, you pull a stoppie at almost where turn and to wheelie it on every straight (getting you loads of Showboating points), but I never see this in a real MotoGP race, so my suggestion is, if you want to win every race (or the good majority), race like you would in a GTA game.
There is an online feature on this game as you'd expect, it allows you to start races with other online members and really test your skills in comparison to other players, could find the answer to which riding style is better (madness or technical). Once you find other players you pick the map and rules and set off in the race.
However due to this game being quite old and a more updated counterpart being released, it is hard to find people online. In my short time there, I managed to play 3 people, 2 being new and as bad as me...actually much worse as one just stayed at the starting line and was attempting to do burn outs and donuts, and the other just crashed and gave up, whereas the 3rd guy simply owned me beyond anything. I suspect it is near impossible to get the Full Grid achievement requiring you to enter a race with around 20 players as I doubt there 20 players online at one time, or ever!
Basically, this game is not good for online play. It does however feature some downloadables, such as a bikes/maps pack and the 2010 update for the Championship which I didn't bother with, so can't comment.
On the Xbox 360 there are 50 achievements with about 30 of them achievable in Career Mode, which is pretty good. But I must say, although some are quite each easy and unlock from progressing through the game in Career Mode, others can be quite difficult, or time consuming to do, for instance the 100 Races Achievement (Centurion), I've completed Career Mode and MotoGP within that Mode numerous times, yet it still seems not to be enough, and the fact that you can't find out the statistics of how many races you've done, so keep going (Unless you fancy counting how many from the start). Others include finishing a race separate from your bike, which I did accidently once and was surprised to get 20g for my mistake.
The online achievements are near impossible. Winning 21 (Black Jack) races online is doable of course with a lot of dedication as well as the 69 (Nick Hayden) wins online too, however getting a 20 human starting grid is going to be near impossible!
Some achievements for instance finishing a race with each rider in the game (Doppelganger) for 5g is highly dull and the reward is awful, although you only have to finish the race and not win.
Well, MotoGP is surely has its ups and has it many downs, it does look good and gives you a decent experience of Motorbike racing, but it also lacks a lot, the weather being a big downside as it would be nice to have the bikes respond to the weather as they should, possibly giving you a better score at the end of Career Mode if you've done it on a wet track rather than a dry one.
However even though it is greatly flawed in many aspects I will continue to play it and coming back to it as I enjoy the simplicity behind it and personally I like to get some music in my headphones and play this game, thinking about stuff, as it gives me a sense of multitasking, and this may be why this game will continue to sell.
It will be interesting to see how MotoGP 10/11 compares to it, but I don't think I will be investing in it just yet as I want to completely use up MotoGP 09/10 as I'd expect them to be near similar (as you'd see with Fifa releases).