Ducati World Championship features over 70 licensed motorcycles in high-speed races across five play modes. Ducati models are divided into classics, sports, road, and grand prix types. Included are 60 tournaments with more than 34 circuits available for competition in amateur, semi-professional, and professional classes. Players can learn riding techniques under the tutelage of Loris Capirossi before embarking on a career with a choice of arcade, normal, and simulation racing styles. Ducati World Championship also includes variable weather conditions and two-player support via split-screen display.
Developed in Italy by Artematica and distributed here in North America by Canada's Strategy First, Ducati World Championship is one seriously hurting game. Looking suspiciously similar to a title released to tepid reviews way back in 2001 (Ducati World Racing Challenge), this Ducati starts off clumsily, puts you to sleep during races, and insults your intelligence as a gaming connoisseur by being as seemingly unfinished, untested, and unpolished as it is. If this is indeed a mildly reworked re-release of the now-ancient Ducati World Racing Challenge, it is infinitely less impressive and infinitely more grating for the simple reason that a half decade has zipped by in the interim.
But it's the game's horrific audio setup that'll likely hit you first. Let's take a gander at the menu system, where each and every time you move back to the previous screen - which happens a lot - you're instantly blasted with a sound not unlike that of a flushing urinal, amplified through a stadium-sized PA system. That you cannot remove said sound or at least reduce the volume thereof only adds to the misery.
Moreover, Ducati's music - and in particular that one hard rock-meets-opera track you hear over and over and over again whenever you launch the game and during most menu navigation - just won't go away. You desperately retreat to the audio settings page to instruct the game to keep its music to itself, but it does so only temporarily. The very next time you start the game, your custom settings have been forgotten altogether and you are serenaded once more.
But that's not all. Whoever programmed Ducati's on-track sound clearly needs to run, immediately, to the nearest ear clinic. Gear shifts sound like a submarine launching a torpedo. Your crew chief/spotter sounds like a madman - a babbling, high-pitched, always-incorrect, British madman. And your bike, a bike that in real life emits that glorious, frightening Ducati drone, sounds like a dentist's drill. And not one of those impressively growling drills either, but one of the real lightweights. All in all, Ducati sounds like what you'd get if you purposely set out to screw it up.
Yet highly questionable audio is just one of a veritable cornucopia of problems.
The game looks old. Its environments are sparse and populated with crude 2D and grainy, rough-edged 3D objects. Its viewing distance is severely truncated and hemmed in by that indistinct fog favored by turn-of-the-century gamemakers before video accelerator cards were capable of rendering great swaths of land and scenery. Time-of-day and weather effects are incorporated - including surprisingly effective depictions of rain, sun glare, and lightning - but the general color scheme is washed out and never vivid. The bikes reflect sunlight, cast real-time shadows, and incorporate most of the essential bike parts, but are nowhere near as sophisticated or as crisp as those on display in games such as EA Sports' oldie but goodie Superbike 2000. That they pale in comparison, in every way, with the slick machines of MotoGP 07 (Xbox 360) almost goes without saying.
One more thing - if you're searching for a visual sensation of speed, you won't find it here. The scenery is too meager and the motion blur technique too primitive for that. Granted, some of the turns feel insanely fast simply because you're able to maintain such a ridiculous speed through them (more on that later), but streaking down a straightaway in Ducati isn't streaking. It's moseying.
All of the above wouldn't be quite so frustrating if Ducati was fun - or challenging - or interesting. Sadly, it is not. The development team did its best to keep things at least moderately intriguing by delivering nearly three dozen tracks, a trio of racing levels (arcade, simulation, and a hybrid between the two), and an array of gameplay modes, including a career that isn't a true career but more a succession of increasingly prestigious events with increasingly powerful bikes, and a "challenge" mode in which you get to vary temporarily from pure racing and engage in a few wheelies and indos. Multiplayer permits two people to compete via split-screen on the same computer, but does not support network or Internet racing.
Regardless, Ducati could have a gazillion modes and it wouldn't matter in the least because the physics engine sucks with the fury of a thousand suns. The basic problem is this: You can blast through most of the game's tracks without ever hitting the brakes. Sure, you'll need to rein in the speed every now and then by backing off the throttle, but even then you hurtle through turns at speeds typically reserved for old school coin-op racers.
Dumping your bike is a virtual impossibility and something you rarely need to worry about unless you've left the track, where you'll occasionally slip enough that it'll come out from under you. That said, there's one other situation where you'll likely go for a tumble - when you hit another rider. Or, more appropriately, when they hit you.
The quality of the Ducati artificially intelligent riders is not nearly as high as it should be in the year 2007. They'll smack into you from all angles, they'll give you very little room when you're riding side-by-side, and they simply don't move at the same speed as you in most sections. There are times when you just can't keep up with them even though you have the same bike and the same approach, and there are other times when you blow by a dozen of them for no other reason than they're moving unconscionably slow.
Though games of this quality were almost acceptable a decade ago, they are most definitely not now. Even when viewed as the budget title it is, Ducati World Championship doesn't make the grade because you simply can't have fun when you're feeling this frustrated.
People who downloaded Ducati World Championship have also downloaded:
Ducati World: Racing Challenge, Cross Racing Championship 2005, F1 2002, F1 Racing Championship, Extreme Tennis, Extreme 500, ESPN Extreme Games, F-Zero
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