An accessible motorbike game with a novel camera view
There was nothing like it. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first motorbike-racing game with a first person perspective. Makes the game so much more immersive. What was the next bike game with this camera view? Can't think of anything else but Moto Racer
. Also the graphics are well done. I especially liked watching the hands change gears & work the brakes. The plain green grass that grows next to every track (always the same color) is somewhat boring.
15 different circuits, all with different backgrounds, including the Circuit of Drenthe (home of the Dutch TT). That's seven circuits more than the bunch that came with Grand Prix Circuit
. Even better, the tracks are not completely flat anymore. Five levels of difficulty (level 1 & 2: automatic transmission, level 3, 4 & 5: manual transmission). Three different bike classes: 125cc, 250cc & 500cc. In other words: there's a lot to do (certainly when you consider the year of release).
Good interface with a minimum of buttons. Very simple controls: just gear up & gear down and the four directional keys. The handling of the bikes is somewhat realistic. It lies somewhere between arcade and simulation (although it leans more towards the arcade side). On the one hand you can blow up your engine and you don't have an infinite amount of traction, on the other hand you really need to push your bike to the max (enter a corner at top speed) before you start sliding, you can't turn your bike & race in the opposite direction and you can continue racing at a speed of 6 Mph with an angle of let's say 20 degrees between bike and asphalt. Don't try that with a real bike. The game is accessible enough for a large group of people while it still has enough depth to avoid total boredom. Anyway, you don't need to practice for weeks before you're competitive and I liked the racing itself.
At every race at least one or two A.I. riders crash or fall from their bike (I never like it when computer opponents keep doing perfect lap after perfect lap).
Here's the stuff I didn't like:
- No sense of speed. Like Trixter says, it maybe because of the lack of scenery. But even the white interrupted line in the middle of the road (btw, has anyone ever seen such a thing at a real circuit track?) disappears underneath you at a snail's pace.
- Except for the differences in top speed, racing in the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc categories feels very similair. When you have three categories, isn't that a nice possibility for a career mode? Start in the 125cc and when you race good enough you eventually get a contract in the 500cc division (that is often how it goes in real life)
- Superbikes equipped with brake lights and rearviewmirrors?
- Engine sounds produced by the PC-Speaker.... make it stop... please! (if you didn't know already, you can disable the sound by pressing Ctrl + S).
- All bikes look the same. When you look at a screenshot you can't tell which bike I'm riding. You can choose a black & yellow bike at the selection screen, but it's not reflected during racing. It's even more disappointing that all your opponents look the same. They've got no character. In fact as far as the opponents and their A.I. are concerned: most of the times they appear to be completely unaware of your existence.
- Last weekend the Dutch TT was held in Assen. Since the 500cc category has merged with Superbikes to form the MotoGP class, 1000cc monsters now take part in the event. On his Ducati Loris Capirossi set a new lap record of around 1.58. In this game I can clock a 1.58 lap on a 250cc bike. Are the circuits too small or the bikes to big & fast? I tend to think there's something wrong with some of the corners. Some chicanes for example hardly require you to deviate from a straight line. You can keep on racing at full speed.
- When you save a tournament, only the points table and the bike class are stored. The level of difficulty and the number of laps per race are not (before you restore a game you have to select these options manually in the main menu).
- Perhaps a bit too easy. I didn't have any trouble winning the tournament at the highest difficulty level. Knowing before a race you're gonna win it, just like you've won the last couple of races isn't a very intrigueing prospect.
The Bottom Line
Early racing game that introduced the first-person perspective in bike games. The gameplay is enjoyable enough to keep you interested for a while. A good improvement over Grand Prix Circuit
. I realize that not all my criticism is fair as one shouldn't judge yesterday's games by today's expections (career mode, customization).