MotoGP 09/10 Preview
Driving enthusiasts will get their Holy Grail next year when Gran Turismo 5 blows us all away with its unbelievable level of authenticity and realism. But despite the fact that series creator Kazunori Yamauchi hasn’t ruled out the possibility of adding motorcycles into the game, it does seem unlikely for the time being. And besides, MotoGP fans deserve a game all to themselves, which is why they’ll be picking up MotoGP 09/10 in March, perhaps instead of GT5. If you’re wondering about the title, this new motorcycle installment from Capcom and Monumental Games will span both the 2009 and upcoming 2010 seasons. You will have access to the 2009 stats and equipment when you purchase the game, and the 2010 upgrades will become available via download not long after it’s released. In this way, you can expand the 2009 season into the 2010 season, which is – in our opinion – something other sports franchises might want to try.
And what good is a simulator without a Career mode of some kind? MotoGP 09/10 will feature one of the most robust Career campaigns available, as you’ll select your character, home track and nationality and then begin your quest in the 125cc class. Money may be difficult to come by right off the bat, though, as sponsors will be sparse and of course, the best mechanical upgrades will be out of the realm of possibility due to your financial constraints. But you’ll progress and even perform research on specific parts for your bike that you may wish to purchase in the future, and for increased funds, you can always be a supreme tactician on the course. The Reputation feature takes a variety of factors into account, including slipstreaming, overtaking, finishing clean laps and of course, winning races. You’ll be on your own at first but once you’ve earned a good Reputation, upped your bike’s capability a bit, and participated in some tougher events, you might be asked to join a professional team. Can you handle the pressure…?
But if you’d rather get your feet wet in either the Arcade or Championship Modes, feel free. In the latter mode, you select an already established rider and take him through a full season but that might take too long; hence, the Arcade version, where you’ll be battling the clock in various Time Attack situations. You’ll race against your own times as well as the times set by other players on the Leaderboards and of course, there is the occasional single race to keep your competitive juices flowing. The key with most simulators is to familiarize yourself with the game’s controls by participating in other modes outside of the main Career, and MotoGP 09/10 will let you do exactly that. It’s clear that the Reputation of a rider will also be crucial and in some ways, this feels almost like a role-playing element; how we perform on the racetrack really should affect our dealings off the track. Furthermore, with the addition of several new gameplay features, it’ll feel like a very fresh sim experience.
The first of these new features is called the “tuck in,” which lets you press your body close against the bike to reduce wind drag. If you’ve ever watched professional motorcycle races on TV, you’ve seen riders “tuck” all the time, so it’s a perfectly logical addition (just restrict your tucking to straightaways, as doing this hinders your turning ability). There’s also something called the “fluctuating catch-up,” which is designed to reflect more of the sports authenticity: most of the time, long races have a certain progression to them; at the start, riders change position a lot, then they sort of settle in for the majority of the race. Towards the end, everything begins to shift significantly yet again as everyone pushes hard to finish in the best position possible. Therefore, it may prove somewhat difficult to overtake other riders in the middle of some races, just because they’re more “locked in” during that time. This shouldn’t be misinterpreted as the sinister rubber-band AI that plagues many a racer, so you needn’t worry about that in this simulator.
Lastly, we’ve got the “Second Chance” feature that you may have seen if you’ve played DiRT 2 this year. It’s exactly what it sounds like: if you really screw up a turn, you have the option of rewinding time and giving it another go and in a game like MotoGP 09/10, that’s going to come in very handy…if you weren’t already aware, taking a turn on a motorcycle at insane speeds is awfully different from taking that same turn in a car. So in the end, we’d have to say that Capcom has another winner in the stable here, even though it may have a tough time if it releases directly alongside Gran Turismo 5. Then again, maybe it’ll act as the perfect counter.
11/12/2009 Ben Dutka