Capcom stopped by the IGN offices earlier this week to show off the latest build of MotoGP 09/10. Being the local racing guy, I signed up for the demo, but I honestly wasn't looking forward to it. The MotoGP franchise (or franchises, as it was split across multiple systems for years) has had some solid entries, but it had gotten very, very stale as of late. The last title I tried was so dry and without character that I had pretty much written off the sport in terms of videogames.
MotoGP 09/10 looks like it's made huge
strides to turn all of that around. What I've seen won't convert folks who just can't get the hang of riding a virtual bike (it's vastly different than driving a car), but it just might reinvigorate past fans of the series or folks who watch the sport on TV but haven't been interested in the videogame form yet.
Martin Robinson covered a lot of the basics in his MotoGP 09/10 hands-on
from a couple months back, so you should read that if you haven't because I'm not going to retread past features as I don't think that I really saw a ton of new stuff this week.
While the visuals seem very solid and a nice improvement from the days of old, perhaps the thing that impressed me the most was how inviting the career mode seems to be. The ability to hire a crew and assign engineers to research new upgrades a la Civilization looks like a very nice break from the ho-hum setup of many other racers. What I really dig, though, is how you earn points for most everything you do, and all of it goes into altering your reputation points. Taking turns well, slipstreaming and even showboating all raise your rep, which earns you more stuff outside of the races, giving you reasons for always trying your hardest and, here's the key for me, not dozing off from boredom.
There are a few other touches that make me respect the developer, Monumental Games, quite a bit. Ghosts, for instance, reset back to your position at checkpoints. This might not sound like much, but if you've ever tried to learn lines from the world's best players, they'll often get out in front so fast that you can't keep up. This small, but great, feature totally fixes that.
The presentation seems to have gotten a good deal of focus on the whole. There's a lot more shine and polish to the menus, and the races seem livelier than in the past. Little touches, like having the earned reputation points "drift" up the screen rather than just appearing at the top, draw attention from your peripheral vision and keep your eyes from fixating on the back of your driver for too long at any one point.
I've really only gotten my hands on the game for a couple minutes, so all of my observations are quick judgment calls and may change by the time I review it in less than a month (it ships on March 16th), but what I've seen was a very pleasant surprise. I'm actually kind of excited to play it, which certainly says something.
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