Speaking of broken promises, there are a few in Castrol 2000. The first is the blatant lie about incredible shiny effects. I was barely able to notice entire other cycles while barreling down Laguna-Seca raceway at 160 MPH. It's this ignorance to detail that is really the death blow for this title. Castrol 2000 doesn't need incredible shiny effects to make it worth playing. It needs better physics and working multiplay. Like so many other recently released games (i.e. NFS: High Stakes) the developers of Castrol 2000 were more concerned with minutia than the obvious flaws in gameplay and design.
Let me briefly touch on the finer aspects of this game before getting back to how un-innovative it is. The tracks in Castrol 2000 are very well done. The rendering of Monaco and Lagua-Seca are some of the best I've seen, hands down. They are detailed, expansive and excellent in their portrayal of the real-life counterparts. The actual bike and racer models themselves are decent, with attention to making the driver seem realistically sitting on the bike, and not glued to it like in Moto Racer.
The falling models are bad. Not Road Rash flipping-over-the-handle-bars-and-flying-a-quarter-mile bad, but close. After skidding face down with their legs stuck a foot into the ground the racers will awkwardly run back to their bikes and awkwardly attempt to get back onto it. This is another perfect example of something that, though done with good intentions for simulation, only hurts the feeling of realism.
Controlling the bike is not, as motorcycle racing fans are aware, a matter of turning the bike to the desired direction but of leaning a substantial portion of the racers weight towards the inside of the turn. From that point physics takes over, momentum and velocity keep you from falling over and ba-da-bing you're running a perfect apex line. At high speeds Castrol 2000 has this whole physics bag down fine, its at slow speeds that things get a bit out of hand. It is impossible for a motorcycle to take a turn at 17MPH on a 20 degree lean. I don't care what planet this game is supposed to take place on, its just not going to happen. Gravity is a bitch, and it will bring down a six hundred pound bike faster than you can say 'incredible shiny effects.'
The only working form of multiplayer comes from the split-screen racing mode. The network-racing mode does not function over LAN properly, and no means of direct TCP/IP connection is provided. Whenever a dual platform game (PSX and PC) is released another red warning light goes off inside my head. The effort obviously not given to code proper multiplay just shows the eagerness of the publishers to port this game to PC as quickly as possible and get it onto store shelves. I have no doubt that I am not alone in my disgust for this type of business conduct.
To sum up, it is the large amount of racing tracks, semi-intelligent racer AI and official licensing are the absolute saving grace of Castrol 2000. Though very playable, Castrol 2000 does little to prove its gaming worth. The title itself tries to cash in on the overused game marketing tactic of slapping the year 2000 on the title, and calling it a sequel. Slightly improved graphics, standard sound and simple presentation keep this game from being anything but an update of its predecessor. Though it is far ahead of the Moto Racer series Castrol comes up short in many key areas.
Castrol Honda Superbike 2000 is the sequel to last year's game of the same name, only sporting a title minus the 2000. The changes are apparent though, but for those who are uttering, "What's this bike thingy all about then?" I can only say pure gaming goodness. For fans of motorcycles and the racing of them in particular you can't go past this game.
The very pretty visuals help convey a stirring sense of speed, and one can't help but get excited. There are a number of views to play this game from, but I found the best and most practical to be the 1st person view.
Leaning into corners, or just sailing down the straights, riding a virtual motorcycle is very cool. It does take a while to get used to the games physics and controls, but unlike GP500, the game is less of a sim and can be picked up and played relatively easily. It would be more comparable to the venerable Manx TT arcade game by Sega - fun to play and not too challenging.
The options available to the player include your run-of-the-mill modes, such as practice, single races, multiplayer and season play, where you fly all over the world attending races, and hopefully winning them too.
The only licensed bikes (and team) are the Castrol Honda Team, surprise surprise. This does suck a bit, as all the other bikes and teams are fake. Castrol Honda Superbike 2000 is an enjoyable romp through a light-hearted arcade kind of world. If you even have a slight urge to ride a bike, then this is for you. Newbies will lap its simplicity up by the truck full.
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