Officially licensed racing sims must be a mixed blessing to work on. On one hand you know, quite clearly what needs to be done, given that you've got quite strict guidelines to work within, yet on the other, trying to do anything above and beyond what people expect, and to therefore get noticed, can't be easy. This is what faced developer Monumental Games when it was handed the reins of MotoGP 09/10. So what did it do to make MotoGP 09/10 stand out? Well, it's essentially given you two years worth of MotoGP games in one.
You see, that title isn't just because Capcom couldn't settle on a year to slap on the end. MotoGP 09/10 comes complete with all the season content from the 2009 championship, and will offer free downloadable content from the 2010 season as it happens. This means, strangely on the part of publisher Capcom, that there'll be no need to hope for another version of the game next year. You'll have all the officially licensed content you need in just the one game. It's certainly great for gamers and MotoGP fans alike, and something quite rare in today's DLC-centric gaming world.
This aside, there are decent, albeit expected strides taken in the core game. Key to the whole package is the career mode, in which you create a rider and manage the team you ride for. The management side of things is fairly slight (this isn't MotoGP Manager 2010), but by building up rep as a rider you can attract new staff members that will handle various aspects of the team's business, with press officers, engineers and team managers all wanting to work with you as time moves on. Of course, these staff members will need paying, and this is where your performance on the track comes in.
Your overall goal is to win the championship, starting with lowly 125cc bikes, then 250cc and finally the mega powerful 800cc monsters from the proper MotoGP series. Your career mode menu includes basic team management, but also your event calendar. Each event in the championship season includes a practice session, qualifying and the final race, and while only the race is compulsory, the two former options are essential if you want to build up your rider's reputation and gain a good spot on the starting grid.
Reputation is the lifeblood of your rider. With it you can become more attractive to sponsors and manufacturers, in turn earning you more money and better bikes. On the track this is done through your riding ability. All good actions are rewarded with rep points, while bad ones deduct points. At the end of each session you'll see all these tallied up, in what at first is a hugely demoralising sequence of events. The on-screen meter will fill up thanks to plenty of slip streaming, overtaking and showboating, but then they'll be wiped away due to the times you were overtaken and caused collisions.
If you're a bike novice, it'll take a long time to get to grips with the handling model. It's not the game's fault, with Monumental putting together what is actually a fairly forgiving recreation of the sport rather than a full-on sim, but it's still not easy to learn. It's all about learning the racing line, with bikes simply not being able to adjust as easily as cars. The game includes a helpful coloured racing line option, complete with braking zones and ideal line markers, so it's perfectly possible to learn how to take each corner, but for some players it'll still be a bit too much.