There are a couple of ways that the game tries to ease you into the difficulty. Most courses have a practice mode for you to run, getting feel of track and how to handle each corner. After you race that, you can check out the Qualifying Run, which will give you better placement depending on how well you perform. Both of these modes are built around teaching you the course before the actual race. Better still, running the practice and qualifying laps give you extra experience points, giving you a higher overall standing. The only trade off is that you'll spend 15 minutes on one track before moving on to something else.
The actual gameplay isn't bad, but it's easy to see how a neophyte (like myself) could get caught up early on. The game is heavily reliant on tucking your body into the bike, which makes you go faster. This is done easily enough by holding the "A" button, but it understandably makes it harder to corner. Cornering is already difficult, especially when compared to other racing games. You have to be a lot more exact in your turns or you'll slide off into the grass. In this game the outer areas are not your friend, they will send you tumbling forward and take you straight to the back of the pack. I cannot even begin to count how many times I went from third to twentieth just because I took one corner too wide.
It doesn't help any that even on the easiest difficulty the computer opponents are unfairly aggressive. This is not one of those racing games where a few drivers stay purposely slow and all you do is dodge them, this is a game where the AI actively stays involve and wants to win. That doesn't mean you can't catch back up if you fall down, but they definitely make it challenging right from the start. Because of their aggressive driving, the real key to winning the races is to be reliant on the tuck button, which really started to annoy me as I got better at taking corners and avoiding other racers.
If you're the type of gamers who is looking for a real challenge, then all of my complaints won't make a difference either way. There's nothing about the gameplay that makes it specifically bad, especially when compared to other realistic motorcycle games. It's just that for me and my preference, I prefer the game to be a little more forgiving. There's far too much of a learning curve early on and I suspect that alone will drive people away from what turns out to be a fun racing game.
One thing I do like about the career mode is that from time to time it will toss out a challenge mid-race. It will give you another biker to pass or intimidate. It will tell you to hit your max speed at some point in the next thirty seconds. In another challenge it will test your average speed. All of these things add up to points, which ultimately makes the game easier to play and ultimately more rewarding.
On top of the lengthy career mode, Moto GP 09/10 gives you a slightly more accessible (and entertaining) Arcade Mode. Here you not only race against a pack of tough opponents, but you will also need to deal with a nasty countdown clock. You start with a set amount of time and when that reaches zero it's game over. Your task is to slipstream behind other bikers, drive the proper lines and make it to checkpoint gates in order to earn a few extra seconds. In this mode the handling is a lot more forgiving and the always-present clock really gives you incentive to go all out from beginning to end. This mode still has some of the same problems as the career mode, but at least it's a fun alternative when you're not spending your time fuming over a missed corner.
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