Moto Racer 2 expands developer Delphine's high-speed, arcade-style racing series with a choice of eight superbikes and eight motorbikes for competition on 32 tracks. Choose a bike individually rated in speed, grip, acceleration, and brakes before challenging 11 computer rivals or up to seven players via Internet. Battle the angry elements during the day, at night, on dirt, or on asphalt. Perform acrobatic tricks after jumps and choose between two handling styles: arcade and simulation. All courses are available from the start, with a points system used to determine your overall standing in four championship events. Moto Racer 2's most notable new feature is its 3D track editor, allowing you to build and save the course of your dreams.
Having some experience with dirt bike racing in my youth, I was eager to get my hands on DSI's sequel to Moto Racer, one of the best motorcycle racers to date. With Moto Racer 2, the developers at DSI have taken all of the elements of the original and expanded the feature list making MR2 the definitive motorcycle racer on the PC.
What sets MR2 apart from its predecessor? Well, for starters, MR2 includes the addition of a simulation mode for more realistic racing action than was found in the original. While the difference between arcade and simulation mode isn't that noticeable in the motocross races, the simulation mode dramatically increases the difficulty in street races and you'll find yourself skimming the blacktop much more in simulation mode. And speaking of difficulty, Moto Racer is one of the few racing sims out there that actually offers a challenge, even at the 'easy' level. The computer-controlled competitors are extremely competent racers and it will take a few rounds before you actually win a race.
Like the original, MR2 lets you compete in both motocross competition as well as superbike street races. MR2 includes 32 tracks, an impressive number as compared to many of today's racers, set in one of five environments: a lush Amazonian jungle, the English countryside, a sandy desert setting, an evergreen forest, or on city streets (with the last two settings being reserved solely for motocross and superbike competition respectively). You can pick from 16 different cycles (8 dirt bikes and 8 superbikes), with each being rated on four characteristics: tire grip, braking ability, acceleration, and top speed. The main difference between GT bikes and dirt bikes is that you can go twice as fast on the street bikes (top speeds of 180 mph as compared to 90 mph) making tire grip and brake rating much more important to superbikes -- lest you end up as a greasy spot on the road.
Of course MR2 isn't just about winning races ... it's also about looking good while you're winning races. You can catch some massive air off of the bumps on the courses and perform sick tricks like letting go of the handlebars, hopping off the seat, or slinging your body completely to one side of your motorbike in midair. While these stunts may wreak havoc on your body (for the love of God please say those guys are wearing padded cups), they look supercool.
While the graphics aren't quite as nice as those found in Motocross Madness, the textures and bike graphics are very well done, especially in 3Dfx mode. Each of the course settings are well detailed, including lots of eye-candy to look at as you scream around the tracks. And except for the occasional graphic pixelization when you get close to an object, watching a replay of the race is barely distinguishable from watching ESPN2. Of course you'll miss a lot of the graphic beauty as the game does a great job of capturing a true sense of speed. You folks with older systems will be glad to know that MR2 is still playable on a P166 with a 3D accelerator - the framerate in this game is as smooth as a spoonful of Ben and Jerry's.
As if all of these great features weren't enough, Moto Racer 2 also includes a track editor allowing for nearly limitless gameplay. The track editor is extremely easy to use, consisting of a number of control points which can be stretched and moved to achieve a basic track shape. After you determine the layout of your track, you can add bumps, change track height, and alter the look of each track. Along with the five basic backdrops, you can choose from five different graphic palettes under each heading, offering a wide range of visual experiences.
When it comes down to it though, it doesn't matter how many features a game has if it isn't fun. No worries here. MR2 definitely delivers in the gameplay department. Not only is it a lot of fun, it's also the most realistic feeling motorcycle racer I've ever played in terms of the game physics.
I know it sounds like the guys at EA slipped some cash my way to write this review -- I swear it's not true. There are some (dare I say it?) flaws with the game. For starters, there are invisible barriers placed about four feet (ok ... virtual feet) in front of the visible barriers. This is friggin' ridiculous - just move the walls in four feet so you can tell when you're about to hit a wall. MR2 also falls into the same trap as many other racing games - it gratuitously overuses lens flare. This blinding band of rings has been prominently displayed in every racer since 1996 and I wish somebody would get it right for once. Since lens flare is a camera effect I can understand using it in third person mode, but leave it out when you switch to first person mode. The human eye doesn't experience lens flare so get a clue and drop it from the first person view. Another annoying aspect of MR2 is that you always start in last place, no matter how well you did in the race before. But these flaws are minor at best and hardly detract from the excellent gameplay and graphics that MR2 offers.
When it comes down to it, you're not going to find a better motocycle racer than MR2. This one is going to satisfy hardcore motorcycle enthusiasts as well as offering up a lot of fun for the casual gamer. If you can only get one motorcycle racer this year, this is definitely the one to get.
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