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Moto GP 09/10 (Playstation 3)

Capcom's Moto GP 09/10 for the PS3 delivers a fairly good simulation-style racing title for the platform. It allows you to not only speed along the usual licensed tracks with manufacturer bikes, but goes a bit deeper into the realities of the racing world with sponsors, team management and customization factors which can play a huge role in the outcome of the race. This deep style of play isn't for everyone and some players will find this approach intimidating. However, those with the patience and discipline will find an enormous amount of satisfaction in completing and winning races. Look inside and discover how Moto GP's excellent visuals and deep gameplay make is an appealing title that offers a surprising amount of longevity.

Taking players beyond the track and into the actual world of competitive racing, Capcom's excellent Moto GP 09/10 delivers a deeper simulation of the sport. Featuring real-world riders and courses, the game's authentic approach is surprisingly deep and offers plenty of challenge. Most of its in-game stats are based on results form the 2009 season and Capcom is promising even more with additional DLC for the 2010 season that is promised to be delivered for free. The game offers several modes of play, including the traditional Time Trial and Arcade modes. This pair offers exactly what you'd expect, though they can be challenging in their own right. For example, the arcade mode is timed with very strict penalties for failure, which leaves you little room for error. You have three continues, but using them takes up valuable time. Time trial has you battling only yourself for the best time on the track, and its fun and allows you to learn the basics of each as a result. However, the really deep part of the game takes place in its Career mode. Here, you race a complete season of race events in order, and have to manage your team as well as other factors such as race sponsors and endorsements. You can manage your team by choosing other riders to employ, get the best people and your performance increases, while going cheap means you'll struggle at the bottom of the standings. The interface is quite smooth in this area and makes navigation easy. As you go through each season, you'll earn money which you can to conduct research which can help you along the way with more efficient engines, better bike styles and other extras. However, you'll need some patience with these expenditures since they won't pay off immediately. The rewards for seasonal success adds more to the game, with other bikes, riders and options unlockable as you gain more success. It's a fairly slow-burn to complete the career mode and you'll definitely need some patience, but Moto GP's structure makes it easy to go in for small bursts and gradually unlock these extras in small bursts.

These modes are all nicely presented, and the game's visuals and presentation do an excellent job in bringing you into the action. It's courses are all based on real-world locations throughout the world and this diversity helps to keep your interest level high. Players can select from one of several different viewpoints on the fly. You can also choose to keep the camera level throughout or choose a tilting mode that mimics what you'd see on a real bike. The game moves along at a decent and consistent frame-rate throughout. The courses look realistic along with the bikes themselves, which gives the game an authentic feel. There are some good weather effects such as rain and fog present, but its graphics don't really stand out in terms of dramatic leaps forward. Moto GP's music is pretty standard fare, but its distracting and most players will probably enjoy the game more with just the engine and sound effects, which are very nicely done. Unfortunately, there's an annoying announcer who seems to be the master of the obvious, which quickly becomes a grating feature that doesn't have an off switch. On the bright side, Moto GP 09/10 features a slick and simple menu system allows for easy navigation. On the track, the on-screen HUD and time stats are easy to read and useful without becoming obtrusive. Moto GP 09/10 is a very nicely designed game that delivers a competent HD presentation that's sleek by today's standards. These visuals are nice, but the real test comes when you leave the menus and step onto the tarmac.

Once you get on the track, you'll find that Moto GP offers some surprisingly intense racing action. You have to keep your wits about you constantly since even the smallest error can result in severe penalties. The game takes off many precious seconds if you go off the track and you should follow the racing lines in order to stay on the course. The other drivers are very aggressive as well, and they won't hesitate to take advantage of your mistakes. The game's AI is very good, and the realism can be used to your benefit, though you have to be very good at racing before you can truly master the bikes. Their performance depends a lot on which driver you choose and their skills, but you can upgrade this in career mode if you want. In addition to the other racers, each track layout presents its own challenge. Some are more technical with successive curves that are difficult to maneuver, while others have long straight sections that allow you to build up huge momentum. You can compensate for these different course layouts by using the test and practice features to learn their intricacies and nuances, which helps later on when you need to perform a qualifying lap and then in the actual race, where your skills and endurance will be tested thoroughly.

Moto GP's controls are very good and the game takes good advantage of the dual-shock controller's analog sticks which allow you to steer with precision. You can also perform stunts such as wheelies and other maneuvers for extra style points, but they usually slow you down, so you shouldn't do this too often. One of the key elements in the game is knowing when and how far ahead of a curve you need to start breaking in order to stay in formation. Once you've mastered this aspect of racing, you can then learn to accelerate out of the curve, which really increases your performance. In addition, you can use the slipstream technique to ride on another bike's coat-tails which helps to keep you within striking distance during corners and allows you to leap past them when the course straightens out. As stated earlier, the game gives you little room for error, but most players should be able to place high in the standings once they learn to concentrate on the action. Going through an entire race season in this mode takes quite some time, so you probably won't want to try to beat the entire game in one sitting. Using the other drivers as test beds helps as well, since you can hold back a little in the earlier laps helps to get a feel for how they react and lets you learn to keep a safe distance from them to avoid pile-ups. This makes the game quite a bit more challenging than many other racers, and the balance of your bike is another factor that you'll need to consider throughout. Moto GP is definitely not for everyone in this department, but its realism makes it a bit more intimidating than you'd expect.

Moto GP 09/10's emphasis on simulation and realism means it won't appeal to everyone. Those looking for a simple, mindless motorcycle game will probably become frustrated by the game's demanding controls and steep learning curve. You have to have a little persistence to appreciate all the game's intricacies but once you get the hang of it, Moto GP 09/10 delivers a fairly deep recreation of the sport. This is especially apparent in its career mode, where you have to manage other aspects of your racing career such as sponsors and endorsements. This can be a little bit distracting, but the on-track action is excellent and makes it worthwhile. Control and handling of your bike goes from frustrating to challenging to intuitive as you learn how to ride the bikes. Tweaking their performance by adjusting the various aspects of the bike makes a big difference in how races turn out, so you need to pay attention to the layout and weather conditions of each track before you race. Moto GP 09/10 takes more preparation and strategic planning than most racers, success is involves more than merely pressing on the accelerator and turning. This approach makes the end results more satisfying and its achievements feel earned. Its definitely one of those games that you need to block out some time for, but it offers a deep and satisfying racing experience that should satisfy those looking for a substantial racing challenge.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B

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