It was at some speed between 100 and 110 miles per hour that it hit me: no video game, no matter how sophisticated, intricate or powerful, will ever come close to simulating the true terror of real life race driving. No game will ever come close to making me genuinely fear for my life, as I did on the back of an eardrum-bursting Yamaha R1 at Silverstone, clinging on for dear life with my right arm wrapped around my driver's belly as we overtook a blur somewhere to my right, leaned into a corner and accelerated down the straight. The wind, the g-forces, my heart-pounding, my bicep flexing, my arse slipping back toward oblivion.
Well, perhaps if Natal, or Sony's motion sensing controller, or Nintendo's next console comes with some kind of mind jack, one that does a Matrix and makes it real in your mind... well, maybe we'll get there. Until then, we'll have to make do with games like MotoGP 09/10 from developer Monumental Games.
Fans of the long-running series (Pure developer Black Rock and, later, Climax, both dabbled in the series) will know all of this already, probably because they're familiar with the realities of real-life bike riding: MotoGP enjoys a hardcore, knowledgeable following. For them, only one question requires an answer: will MotoGP 09/10 be better than last year's disappointing effort? According to senior producer Greg Bryant, who we're talking to in the warmth - and safety - of the plush British Racing Drivers' Club at the iconic racing track post heart-attack-inducing pillion ride, it will.
Bryant calls MotoGP 09/10 a "high sim". It's a nice term, but what, exactly, does it mean? "I want to take all the positive elements of the simulation experience and remove all the negative, frustrating ones," he says. "And look at all the positive elements of an arcade racing game and see how they can be reflected."
From that, you'd imagine MotoGP 09/10 to be some kind of all encompassing, magical catch-all racer. But, when you really get down to it, what is it about the game that makes it so? How do you create, in essence, the Forza of the bike racing genre?
For Bryant, it's all about the physics and the bike handling. "There's a lot of debate in forums and between developers about how the physics and handling should be done in a bike game," he says. "Every bike game out there, take Project Gotham's implementation of motorcycles, you take [Burnout] Paradise's bike add-on, they all have a very different feel to how a bike handles. There's a big margin of difference, compared to racing games where they all feel roughly similar."
So, how does MotoGP 09/10 handle? How does it feel? "What we've achieved is like playing GRID with the assists turned on. It gives you that feedback that you need, that you feel like you're playing with a car or bike on the edge, but it's just not punishing you the whole time." Like real life racing, then, without the terror.