MotoGP 09/10 brings about the return of motorcycle racing to the video game world, following a years hiatus. This installment brings in the 2009, as well as the 2010, season of MotoGP as it happens with downloadable updates. However, the big question revolves around whether or not the developers capitalised on their time, or whether more improvements can still be made.
MotoGP features a few different modes that let the player choose how they wish to play out their racing career. There is a standard tournament mode that lets players choose a current race team and play through a tournament series. Each successful tournament also unlocks new classes of bikes to race with more power and speed. This mode works fine for people who don't want to bother with customizing their experience, but for those who want to get the most out of the game there is the custom season mode that lets players choose from a multitude of options to create their own race team. Season mode gets down to every detail including hiring researchers to improve the bike, choosing sponsors, and hiring press representatives for the team to make more cash.
Beyond the single player modes, there is also an always connected system that tracks lap times for online leaderboards. This counts lap times for any race so players don't have to enter specific times in a set lap. There is also a full multiplayer mode that includes circuit racing which is a lot of fun, as long as the connection is decent. Most times the connection has not been an issue, but there is a whole competitive group out there for those seriously into online racing and ranking systems.
All of the race modes let players choose the level of depth that feels most comfortable. This also includes setting how many assists are on the bike, such as anti-lock brakes and traction control. At first the game almost has an arcade feel to its presentation, but controlling the bike feels very simulation in nature. Many aspects have to be accounted for on a bike that is represented in the game; aspects such as leaning in to corners, and tucking on straightaways to get better aerodynamics, increasing speed overall. The handling overall feels pretty smooth and the physics really perform, especially when pulling out of a turn and just grabbing the last bit of road available.
Visually, MotoGP looks great. All of the bikes look very detailed, and tracks have depth to them with a lot of detail to the true to life courses. All of the bikes also animate very smoothly with drivers diving into corners with knees to the pavement. The only downside to the graphical appearance is that the aspect sometimes feels a bit odd. Sometimes it seems as if the players and bikes are skinnier than they really should be. The other negative part of the graphics is that the crashes are very glitchy and it can be very anti-climactic when a driver slides out or loses his bike.
Another positive note for MotoGP 09/10 is the sound of the game. All of the bikes themselves sound great, and there is a really good stereo mix of the bikes that makes pack racing all the more exciting and exhilarating. There is also an audible difference between the classes of bikes that is very welcome. The only big problem with the audio is the soundtrack. The music itself isn't really that bad, and a lot of that comes down to taste, but there isn't that big a soundtrack and some of the songs feel almost too slow to be playing while racing motorcycles at high speed. The shortness of the soundtrack, as expected, can really make for quite a bit of repetition. The other thing that can get annoying is the assistant voice-over that tells the player what different features to do as well as providing encouragement while racing. Although helpful in the beginning, hearing him tell shout that another clean section has been scored for the fifteenth time in a race can get annoying pretty quick.
MotoGP 09/10 is a game that's definitely geared towards fans of MotoGP, providing a strong simulation experience. Yes, there are assists that help people not as tuned to simulation racing games, but the game presents a challenge that may aggravate people who just want to race and win without taking the specifics of racing into account. Those looking for arcade action should probably steer clear. With great handling physics, and great opponent AI, players can't ask for much more in a racing game.