Superbike 2001 includes every 2000 World Championship track, factory rider, and factory bike. Just a few of the bike manufacturers featured are Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda, and Ducati. Training sessions and difficulty adjustments allow players to learn how to ride at their own pace. Some of the other inclusions are weather effects, replays, motion-capture animations, and online play for up to eight players.
As stupid as it may sound, but "It's in the Game" became my favorite sentence over these couple of years because it was always followed by a good game. EA Sports is one of the trustworthiest companies as their games rule the sports/racing genres for years. Those people had the skill to bring us great 3D engines back in the days we still had our 486s, and kept improving them as the technology advanced, which was obviously enough to remain at the very top of the gaming market.
Not even I am sure if I should criticize or praise them for it, but it is evident that each new edition of their sports serials brought minimal changes. It seems as though they spent all that time designing new menu outlook, shooting cut-scenes, some minor tweaking and considering what unimportant novelties to introduce in order to make the customers buy the new edition. Those novelties mostly came down to updated info on sportsmen/vehicles/championships, and rarely some new options.
The new Superbike 2001 fully sticks to this clich'. This game appeared in stores seven months after its predecessor. I can not say why the programmers had to rush this much.
The "novelties" in this game took the shape of the newly introduced training mode. I always best enjoyed learning to drive while chasing other drivers and watching what they are doing, but I did find this option very useful because it will help you learn all the tricks needed to win each track. As the camera approaches each bend, the announcer gives you hints on how to properly pass it, giving you optimal speeds and routes...
Thanks to its several levels of difficulty, Superbike 2001 is an acceptable solution for a variety of players because the levels have been properly balanced. If they reduced the difficulty to minimum by turning on all sorts of in-game aids like the yellow line signifying ideal racing line, accelerator help and extra brake power, even the clumsiest players would have to admit the game was playable. The bikes act totally realistic and all through the game I had the feeling I was controlling the1000cc behemoths. If you're not ready to try out a verisimilar motorbike simulation, or if you do not have a quality game controller, I would never recommend you to choose the Real mode. I was quite successful against the CPU controlled opponents on the Pro mode, but once I shifted one step higher to Real... let's just say I'd rather forget the day. My problem was that I dared tread the asphalt using the keyboard. I didn't manage to pass a single bend. I was dazzled... Hey, I did keep beating those computer players in the Pro mode, didn't I? I got that irritated that I went back to the Pro level after a couple of unsuccessful attempts. As I was frustrated I started losing there too, so I went all the way down to the amateur level. Not even that helped. I just couldn't pull myself together. I got that scared of those bends that I made more and more mistakes. My only option was to leave the game for tomorrow. There you have it - never try to play the Real mode without a very good joystick (and don't think that setting keyboard sensitivity will help, it has absolutely no effect). Partial release of the acceleration or steering key when the bike enters the bend can only have bad effects like sliding on track. And if you do keep them pressed all the time, the engine has a good chance to break. I simply had no solutions to this problem. The entire race simply turns into a competition against yourself. Well, at least I saw a bunch of well motion-captured falling sequences...
The game features 10 drivers and 13 tracks, three of them being new (Valencia, Oscherslebe and Imola), and two new bikes: Suzuki Bimota SB8R and Honda VTR1000SP.
The game itself looks perfect. The graphics are great, and what's more, it's not at all too requiring. I played the game on a low-end Celeron 400 equipped only with a good old Voodoo2 accelerator and everything went smoothly with a decent frame-rate. The track scenery is sufficiently rich to make even those who are not exactly big motorbike fans, glued to the screen. Only the trees (2D sprites) could be said to have somewhat worse textures with ugly yellow rims. The game also features numerous visual details, like the color of your tires changing depending on the surface you were driving on...
Particle effects look fantastic. Accelerating, flying off track and similar actions create but small yet sufficient quantities of dust, and when you fall, you'll see the tiny sparks. If we disregard the minor (?!) flaw that there is no smoke coming out of bikes' exhaust pipes, the game has a perfect balance in eye-candy. For instance, the lens-flare has not been over done; it's just there to obstruct visibility when you're driving straight towards the sun. As you pass under the trees and they cover the sun, the effect will fade of, and you'll only see the shadows of the passing trees. Driving in the rain leaves the best impression. Just watch those raindrops smash against your hood and slowly fade away...
The drivers (their models) have been done very well. The programmers "sacrificed" several stunts who had to perform various tricks in some studio; finally giving us realistic and detailed movements. We can see drivers prepare for the race and taking optimal positions according to their speed, trying to hold on to their bikes in perilous situations, and finally fall. No, I'm not a sadist, but I really enjoyed watching them fall off their bikes. You can occasionally spot some frames missing, and the game seems to have a bug, which prevents the driver from falling if you hit the fence directly, regardless of speed.
Bike models are exact replicas of real motorbikes. They all look highly realistic and detailed all with sponsor stickers. The only flaw of this engine is the complete lack of damage models. I wish they had not rushed this much... Still, they obviously had to leave something Superbike 2002.
The sounds are quite admirable. Engine sounds and other effects become the quality of graphics. The commentator will occasionally say something like: There looks like Kawasaki is down! And he won't bother you too much.
The opponents and their AI vary. I sincerely expected them to drive more aggressively and wisely. Either I'm that good (which I sincerely doubt) or they rally could try to win a bit harder. I got severely irritated by their inability to avoid bikes that stand straight in front of them. Our driver isn't much better either. When he falls off, he'll run to his bike as slowly as possible. If she were in the lead and fall off the bike, still having a chance to win, even my grandmother would run towards the bike like Ben Johnson with on heavy drugs, and she would certainly take the shortest route rather than going around the bike.
And once the computer opponents start to irritate you, you can always play a game against your friends. The game supports LAN and Internet play for up to six players and a split-screen mode for two players...
And there you have it... Superbike 2001 is currently the best biker game out there, defiantly deserving a place in your collection, but ONLY if you don't already have a copy of Superbike 2000.
People who downloaded Superbike 2001 have also downloaded:
Superbike 2000, Superbike World Championship, TOCA Race Driver 2, Sega Rally 2 Championship, Rally Championship 2000, NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, TOCA Race Driver (a.k.a. Pro Race Driver), Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit
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