|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Monumental Games|
|Release: March 15, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Patriel Manning
With the release of MotoGP '08, the MotoGP franchise changed hands from to Milestone Srl (who went on to release games in the SBK series) to Monumental Games. Something difficult to quantify was lost in the transition, however. It's sort-of like what happens when the lead singer of a band is replaced. The bass drum may have the name "Journey" emblazoned across the front, but something just seems off. That said Monumental has worked hard to continue the good work Milestone left behind, and MotoGP 10/11 shows a marked improvement over last year's effort.
For the uninitiated, MotoGP is a series that aims to give motorcycle racing fans the same kind of virtual treatment their automotive inclined brethren receive on a regular basis. Car racing fans feast on Need for Speed this and Gran Turismo that while fans of two-wheeled racers subsist on a much more meager diet, without the luxury of differentiating between sim and arcade racers. Although not strictly a simulator, this game delivers.
For starters, all bikes are unlocked from the beginning. That means that if you want to jump onto a GP class crotch rocket and hurtle yourself down the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca, there's nothing stopping you. Seasoned players will appreciate this addition, especially since last year's entry lacked this time-saving feature. Those familiar with the series will also recognize the returning game modes: Championship, Time Trial, Challenge, Career, and Online.
Championship mode allows players to live vicariously through their favorite driver, battling their way through a full season in an attempt to take the gold. Time Trial pits gamers against themselves and their track of choice, allowing the player to choose between custom machines in their own garage and the licensed vehicles the pros ride. Challenge mode is, as the name suggests, not for the faint of heart, as it pits you against the clock. Smooth driving awards a few precious seconds on an ever-dwindling clock and bragging rights for being able to outlast everyone else on the leaderboard.
Career mode, where most of the single-player time will be spent, carries over the innovative additions from 09/10. Every race consists of a practice session, a qualifying session, and finally the actual race day. You'll be graded for each of these sessions from A to E, depending on your performance. You'll be awarded points for things like overtaking, slipstreaming, and staying on the track, and you'll lose points for being overtaken, causing collisions, or using the game's "Second Chance" feature. Second Chance is like the rewind feature from GRiD that allows a player to repeat a section of the track should they take a turn too wide or get clipped by the AI. Inexperienced players might find it useful as turn-in and braking points are much different on a bike, even if you think you know the track from previous experience in other games. Your crew chief will also task you with random objectives to be met within certain sections of the track (maintain XX average speed, stick to the racing line, etc.), which will also affect your final grade.
Every race awards you experience points, which in turn, awards you new perks like upgrades and sponsorships. The way these are handled, though, is where things get interesting. After a certain level you're tasked with choosing a marketing manager to handle the branding and secure sponsorships for your team. How well this team member performs will depend on their individual level (a Level Four marketing manager will get better deals than a Level Two manager) and the same goes for other team members, like engineers. You also have to keep in mind that all the extra people on your team will be paid on a regular basis, meaning that you have to make sure that your budget will allow for research into chassis upgrades and engineer Becky's salary. Better driving also awards you a better reputation, which in turn allows you to add more slots to your team. This allows for more freedom to allocate resources as you see fit, providing you have enough money to keep the team afloat. This adds another layer of realism to what might otherwise have been a pretty standard career progression.