The MotoGP racing franchise from Namco Bandai Games has remained exclusive to the PlayStation 2 since its 2000 debut, but now the series is racing on the PlayStation Portable. MotoGP for the PSP offers a competent mix of arcade- and sim-style racing with fully licensed riders and motorcycles. However, the short track list, somewhat lacking season mode, and lifeless artificial intelligence leave MotoGP thin on content.
MotoGP for the PSP contains all the riders from the 2005 MotoGP season, so you can race as or try to defeat riders like Valentino Rossi from Italy, Sete Gibernau from Spain, Makoto Tamada from Japan, and many more. The two main modes in MotoGP are arcade and season. In arcade mode, you can participate in a single race against 20 real-world riders on any of the eight licensed tracks in the game.
Season mode is a more robust and involved racing experience, but it still feels shallow. There are two separate modes that let you either race a single season as one of the real-world MotoGP riders or choose a generic rider to race in a succession of seasons. You'll earn points that depend on how you place in each season race, and these determine your overall ranking at the end of each eight-race season. If you're playing with a generic rider, you'll be offered or declined contract renewals with your team based on how you place at the end of each season, and you can then continue on to the next season with a new team or stay with your old team. If you're racing as one of the licensed MotoGP riders, there's no continuation between seasons. The season progression is an interesting idea, but the implementation is lacking because there's no sense of achievement whether you race a single season or five in a row. You can sign with better or worse teams depending on how you perform, but there isn't any sort of tangible difference in performance between teams.
Whether you're racing in season or arcade mode, there are a variety of settings you can adjust to customize the experience. You can choose from three difficulty settings, adjust the number of laps, and choose between arcade mode and sim mode. In arcade mode, the handling of the motorcycles is forgiving, and unless you hit another rider or a wall at full speed, you don't have to worry about crashing. Sim mode is quite the opposite, and the handling on the bikes is so slippery that you can easily dump your bike on a turn if you're too heavy on the throttle. In sim mode, you can powerslide around corners, which is a technique that, if used properly, can shave seconds off your lap time. However, it's very easy to oversteer when going into a powerslide because the handling is so loose that it barely feels like your bike is making contact with the pavement. In sim mode, if you leave the track at all, you'll wreck; whereas in arcade mode, you can take a corner wide into the grass or sand without being slowed down too much. In addition to arcade and sim mode, you can turn on a brake assist, which automatically reduces your speed in corners. It definitely makes the game less technically demanding, but when it comes down to it, the determining factor of most races isn't the judicious use of gas and brake; rather, it's the line that you take through each turn.
In addition to the different racing settings, you can adjust the characteristics of your bike to suit your riding style. You can trade top speed for faster acceleration, stability for handling, and so on. There are four categories to adjust, and although some of them do make a noticeable difference in the way your bike handles, it's usually not enough to influence the outcome of a race.