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Written by  :  Roedie (5252)
Written on  :  Nov 30, 2001
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
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Stripped of all excess weight and boy does it move!!

The Good

Motorhead is a pure racing game, despite it’s semi-futuristic setting. Rocket launchers & speed power ups are not included. It may not be a true simulation, but the handling of the cars is a lot more realistic in this game than in, for example, the Need for Speed series. The cars are not glued on the tracks, as is the case with some of those futuristic arcade racers. I really like the way the cars drive. The 10 available cars differ with regard to speed, handling and acceleration and during the tournament mode it actually is important to select the right car for each track (you can change cars before every race). Too bad the handling of the cars is not affected by crashes; the cars never show any sign of damage. By the way, the only aspects of a car you can modify are the color and the sound of the horn.

Motorhead’s graphics are superb. If this game was in an arcade a couple of years ago people would throw money in it. The scenery is great and there are a lot of things going on like a train driving besides the track or there is a zeppelin in the sky. The lighting effects are good, there’s hardly any pop-up of scenery and the game gives you an enormous sense of speed. All the tracks are fun to drive in their own way and the game offers a nice selection of corners and hairpins. Moreover they’re not just your usual jungle, desert and snowy mountain tracks. On the downside, there are only 8 tracks. You can drive them the other way, but as usual that’s only half the fun. Also, it takes only a minute and a half to complete the longest track.

The music is a combination of techno & trance and fits the game’s futuristic setting, but personally I would have preferred Ace of Spades or Overkill (hey, the game is called Motorhead). The engines produce the high-pitched sounds of a formula 1 car. I like the way the sound changes when you enter a tunnel, the way you can hear an opponent approaching and the whining of the engine when you change gears.

Computer opponents do make a mistake every now and then. That’s great news because computer opponents that keep driving perfect lap times all the time are pretty boring.

The game’s interface is OK; the menus look cool, it saves a lot of different high-scores & track records, there are a lot of options for saving and watching replays and the game has a useful address book for finding multi-player servers. Too bad this game isn't exactly the hottest game online.

The Bad

As is often the case with racing games these days, you don’t get all the tracks & cars at once. You have to earn them by winning tournaments. You start out in division 3 with 3 cars and only two tracks available. After you've won division 3 you have to win division 2, which starts with the same two tracks you've just raced in division 3 (you do get two extra tracks & three extra cars). This of course increases the longevity of the game, but the problem with this game is that it becomes very hard. You can’t change the difficulty while you’re in the tournament mode. The default difficulty for divisions 3 and 2 is medium (which is in fact pretty hard), but once you reach division 1 the level of difficulty is set to hard (which is insanely difficult). Moreover if you don’t score enough points, you’re relegated to a lower division. In division 1 there is no room for error what so ever and winning requires the reflections of a Jedi Knight. After a while I became pretty frustrated with the fact that I was constantly switching between divisions.

Besides the difficulty of the game, Motorhead has some other (minor) faults:
  • There’s no in car view. Besides the 3rd person view and the highlight view there’s only a bumper cam.
  • The music is played from CD and each time the CD skips to the beginning of a track the screen temporarily freezes. You'll always lose control of your car during those brief moments. Made me turn off the “CD-loop function”.
  • There are a lot different versions of this game, and the cheat codes probably don’t work with all of them. There is supposed to be a really cool cheat that enables vector graphics (the TRON movie cheat) but like all other cheats, this one never worked with my version of the game.
  • You rarely battle for a position with one of the A.I. drivers. If you drive fast enough you’re ahead of them, if you don’t you’re not. It’s that simple.
  • Does not include a split screen mode.
  • Only includes the traditional game modes (single race, league race, time attack and multiplayer mode).
  • Sometimes you get stuck on the scenery, for instance when you crash into a small wall at a high speed. What a shame. Fortunately it doesn't happen too often.

The Bottom Line

Kick-ass racing game, if I had a force feedback (yes the game offers force feedback) steering wheel my arcade experience would be complete. It doesn't have as many tracks or game modes as The Need for Speed (hot pursuit, betting) so it won't last forever, but it sure is a great bare-bones racing game.

Be sure to check out for the final patch that gives you four extra cars (among others).