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The Jet Moto series has always been a rather unique experience in racing games. Players get to control an extremely powerful hover bike that can (and will) give them the ability to navigate practically any type terrain.
Being that I truly love racing style games, the first Jet Moto hooked me in right from the get go. With all of the bizarre track layouts, the super flashy bikes and the great team selections, Jet Moto was like a dream come true for a racing game nut. The follow-up, Jet Moto 2 was a bit of a let down with it's rather poor handling characteristics coupled with some friggin' nightmare styled tracks it failed to pull me in like the first one did. I figured the novelty had just worn off and went back and lived in Gran Tourismo's world for the next 6 months.
Now along comes the 3rd in the series, why Jet Moto 3 of course and with it a new developer as well. Immediately I thought to myself, who the hell thinks they are going to uphold the Jet Moto series now that the original developers, Single Track, have went off to program other games. In steps developer Pacific Coast Power & Light to grab the torch that Single Trac has held over this series in the prior two outings.
Promising to make all things good again, with superb handling, a brand spanking new game engine and better graphics than ever before, I figured PCP&L where just gonna blow some smoke up my ass and left it at that. Well it was with a great deal of trepidation and I must admit, a wee bit of anxiousness that I opened up the jewel case and popped Jet Moto 3 into my trusty old gray box. Wanna know what happens next? Hehehe, read on dear reader, read on
Sound and Vision:
Well one thing is for sure, you generally always know when you have a Single Track game running on your Station. The graphics always had a very distinctive look to them grainy. I can't say that I even really minded them though, as the games always moved along at a fairly nice clip and the amount of textures and special effects was always quite generous.
Well compared to the first two Jet Moto games, JM3 is like taking the old blue blockers off and seeing the Sun for the first time without 'em.
The graphics in Jet Moto 3 are freakin' awesome compared to the first two in the series and absolutely do wonders for giving the series a shot in the eye-candy department. Gone are the grainy somewhat hazy screens of 1 & 2 now we've got some clean and vibrant characters, machines and high-res environments that make this series feel fresh again.
The game features some nice light trails from the bikes, great water effects and superb texturing and colors. This game is really a big jump up in the graphics departments compared to 1 & 2.
Of course for some strange reason the trademark seaming and polygon break-ups are still present when you get too close to a wall. At least there is no glaring pop-up present. The character models seemed a bit small to me as well ah well nothings perfect.
Gone is the Pulp Fiction style music, it has been replaced by a more gritty hard edge sound. The music ends up being an excellent fit for this type of racer but I still preferred the score from JM3 a bit better.
Sound effects are rather subdued for some reason as everything sound sort of muffled. I don't mean to say that the effects aren't good, they are, it's just that I thought they could have been a bit more prominent and out front then they were.
Right from the start Jet Moto 3 manages to retain that same hip "look" to it. The menu interface is slick, featuring a futuristic design and easy navigation with neat little sound effects for each button press. You still have a window in which to pick your driver and there is also a bio included for some character background. I found most of the drivers to have rather shady pasts but hey, I guess that's just what gives them an edge. The menu does however have a tendency to be rather slow in executing your commands. Several times I thought the game locked up only to have the next sub menu item pop up a second later. Once you understand that this is "normal" you get accustomed to it but you should be aware of this little glitch non-the less.
There are a slew of sponsored teams to choose from including Mountain Dew, Doritos and Slim Jim to name a few. Each bike has it's own strong point and weak points broken down into three categories: Top Speed, Acceleration and Weight. Picking a lighter bike will give you better handling but it won't take well to collisions while a heavier bike will be able to plow through the pack but take hairpin turns like crap. Finding the perfect bike is up to you and is generally realized after much trial and error.
Once you start up you have a choice of One or Two-Player Mode, Practice, the awesome Circuit Mode and Season Mode.
Season Mode is a single player endeavor and it's here that you will be able to unlock secret tracks and stunt courses. You initially begin this mode at the Novice level and have four tracks that you race on. Depending on what place you finish, you are given a certain number of points with the exception being a 6th place finish...no points for a supreme loser. At the end of the season the points are tallied and the biker with the most wins that season. If that happens to be you, the next event is Semi-Pro and three more tracks are unlocked plus another stunt course (more on that in a bit). Win that season and your ready for the Pro's and three more tracks get unlocked and another stunt course. Once you are victorious in the Pro Season it's time to tackle the Bonus Level Competition. If you've managed to make it this far, your racing skills are very good and will now be put to the ultimate test.
The Stunt Courses that are unlocked during the course of the game can be accessed in Practice Mode and played with one or two players. You're on the clock and have 3 minutes to pull off as many high scoring stunts as you possibly can. Besides unlocking Stunt Courses after winning at the Season Mode, there are also coins hidden in ten of the tracks that you will race on. Collect all ten of the coins and all five Stunt Courses become available for you to use and trick out on.
The circuit Mode is a definite plus in JM3. This is a one or two player mode in which you can select up to 14 tracks in any order and create your own customized Season race!
Upon jumping in and actually putting some serious playtime into this game, I was immediately aware that there was a new game engine at work here. The developers call it a MotoPhysics engine, I call it outrageous! With their turbine engines, the Jet Moto bikes have the ability to direct thrust down as well as back. This enables these awesome bikes to traverse practically any surface and believe me, with the way these tracks are designed you are going to be able to put that statement to the test.
The bikes feature hair trigger response that can get you in or out of trouble real fast depending on your skill level. Slowing down too radically and not properly steering into or out of a curve can send your ass end slamming into a wall and bringing your bike to a screeching halt. Worst still, it could send you plummeting into the darkness of some ravine. There are a good amount of controls to get used to if you wish to tame these beasts but the effort is well worth it. Using the analog controls give you the basics; gas, break, turn and lean. Stepping up to the shoulder buttons allows you to hard lean left or right, enable grapples and kick in the turbo boost.
Because the tracks have such unforgiving curves and drops grappling devices have been installed in key areas. Enabling these towers from you bike causes a magnetic particle beam to shoot from them and "grapple" onto your craft. Once attached your hovercraft can take just about any turn at an insane speed without losing it. Of course if you hold onto the grapple beam for too long you could end up coming to a complete stop or slamming into a canyon wall not too cool for your rep dude.
Using the turbo at key points (mostly straight-aways unless you've got a death wish) will help to propel you into the lead. There are also some areas of the track that you absolutely must use the turbo in order to make some of the jumps. You have to remember to use them sparingly though as you only get a fixed amount of fuel for each lap. It really sucks when you run out of turbo boost and can't properly navigate the best line on the course.
The bikes also have a forward thrust that enables you to jump. This will come in handy when cruising over cracked and broken roadways, cars, rocks, etc.
The tracks themselves are a thing of beauty. Not only do they look tremendous but also the course designs are some of the most unique that I have ever seen. Environments change radically yet manage to flow seamlessly as you travel from water to lava to solid rock for example. There are also the neat suicide tracks that having you doubling back and facing the rush of oncoming bikers from the opposite direction. Of course no self respecting Jet Moto would be complete without the 1000' foot drop-offs into darkness and JM3 has it's fair share of them. In fact this brings up my only real gripe with the game. Some of the courses feature turns that if not negotiated, the rider ends up dropping to a different section of the track and ends up having to backtrack a good distance. Do this a couple of times in a row (like I did) and you might as well forget about placing any better than last. What makes matters even worse is that the other drivers seem capable of negotiating these same areas at breakneck speeds. Errrrrrr. At any rate, if you keep your wits about you and practice, practice, practice, you will soon be able to consistently pull out victories and leave the other fan boys far behind.
The game also features a nice little Trophy Room that displays the little secrets and victories that you have managed to pick up along the way.
All in all Jet Moto is a more than worthy successor to 1 & 2 and brings back that insane driving excitement that I feared may be dead after the first Jet Moto game.
Well, the torch has been passed and I'll be damned that PCP&L didn't fumble it or put it out. Hell, I'll go a step further and say that they have set this series right again and in doing so have created the best Jet Moto game yet. Hot damn, I just love these kinds of pleasant surprises.
This is a single disk game for 1 or 2 Players. It is compatable with the standard (digital) joypad and the dual shock (analog) joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).
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