PlayStation has seen more than it's fair share of car racing games
over the last couple of years but motor bike racing games have been
a rare commodity. This is due to change with the release of a brand
new racer of the two wheeled variety. Moto Racer attempts further to
refine motorcycle racing while delivering arcade-style thrills that
are bigger and better than anything seen on a 32-bit system before.
Racer offers a combination of two types of gameplay. First there is
the moto cross dirt bikes that will scramble around a selection of
terrains from muddy mountainous courses to meandering snowbound
circuits. Prepare for a 'wheely' good start before grinding your way
around a number of tracks that are designed to fully test your
balance and bottle.
Then there is the second option as you straddle a powerful
superbike around a selection of testing street courses. Speed is the
order of the day as you zip your high powered, souped up, mother of
a machine around the super smooth surface that takes you roaring
through mountain-side tunnels and across open planes.
The game also includes a split-screen, two-player mode for you
and a mate to go head to head at full throttle.
Moto Racer has been developed by French company Delphine whose
last project was the strategy game Fade to Black.
find that I have been repeating myself lately when describing the
opening intros to recent PSX games but once again Moto Racer stands
up there with the best of them. It's worth checking out just to see
the dirt bike go head to head with the superbike before heading off
for their individual events.
The ingame graphics almost match the intro with every single
level both rich in color and high in quality. You can clearly see
the track way, way ahead and considering how far into the distance
the horizon appears I was amazed that there was no sign of any pop
up whatsoever. Even when you are jostling for position with several
riders there was not the slightest hind of any slowdown. Remarkable.
You would think that the five dirt and snow tracks would look
fairly similar but nothing could be further from the truth. Dirt
Arena is exactly as the name describes, a winding muddy circuit set
inside an enclosed stadium with more humps than a herd of camels.
The Great Wall is again a descriptive title for a concrete racing
circuit that is set high on the famous enclosed wall of China. Lost
Ruins is a track that has been carved into the surrounding rocky
landscape. Sea of Sand is a wide beach track that takes you across
uneven sand dunes and onto flat beaches along the shoreline. The
final scrambling track cuts through the snowy mountains where the
winding road is covered in a treacherous slush.
Intermingled with the dirt tracks are a selection of smooth
street circuits that are ideal for the high powered superbikes.
Speed Bay is a lightening fast beach circuit that begins on the sea
front and winds its way around the coast line. Rock Forest is a
narrow twisting circuit that takes you from the open countryside
into the surrounding hills. Next up is the tricky desert circuit
West Way where the road cuts through the rusty red mountains. Fun
Fair is a dream circuit where the wide roads allow you to really
turn the throttle up to max to experience the true thrill of riding
a superbike. The Red City is the final track and is a fast street
circuit that crosses over bridges and cuts through tunnels.
The attention to detail is remarkable and thankfully Moto Racer
includes a replay mode where you can sit back and admire the scenery
because, let me tell you, this baby moves so fast that the chances
of checking out the view during a race is NIL.
There are three ways to view the race. Up and behind your rider
works well and will be the preferred view for many. Low and behind
gives an A1 view of the riders butt, while the first person
perspective allows you to sample the rollercoaster thrills of a
superbike racer and will have you gasping for air.
Up to date race information is permanently displayed on-screen
with a lap counter, race position, speedo and a helpful map of the
circuit highlighting the whereabouts of your opponents.
beefy, rip roaring engine sounds! Especially at the start of the
race, when all eight bikes are reving it up on the line-up.... and
then we're off, WeeeeYow! When approaching the Fun Fair you are
treated to the sound of merry-go-rounds. You are also treated to the
crowd cheering you on during some of the tracks as you whip around a
bend. I should mention that the cheering increases in volume as you
approach the crowd...again, very nice touch. The bikes even display
a wonderfully realistic crunching sound as you crash into a wall or
collide with another vehicle. The background noise also changes in
the sense that it reflects your surroundings. When you enter a
tunnel you can hear the echoes of the racing engines rebounding from
the enclosed walls. The sounds are brilliant...really. Oh, and it's
all in surround sound so have yourself a blast.
Music is your typical, now standard, to be expected, driving
rock soundtrack...Which to me, is a good thing. Each track has it's
own catchy tune, but nothing groundbreaking.
Racer includes the usual racing game options of taking part in a
single player race against seven computer controlled opponents, a
practice session that lasts between one and eight laps or a
Championship which alternates between five off road tracks and five
high speed racing circuits. Each time you finish in the top three on
a given track, you move on to the next venue in the Championship
There are three difficulty setting. Complete the Championship
in Easy mode to unveil the ten tracks in Reverse mode. Completion of
Medium mode opens up Reverse mode and then Pocket mode. Pocket mode
lets you race tiny, fast motorcycles around all twenty racing
circuits. This option becomes available first if you complete a
Championship in Hard mode.
Select your bike from the eight available. Each bike has
individual strengths which are displayed in a graph form. The four
varying features are acceleration, max. speed, grip and brakes. An
option is also available to choose between automatic and manual
I messed around with practice mode for a couple of races and it
was immediately evident that Moto Racer was going to provide a stiff
challenge, so I settled myself down comfortably and prepared myself
for the first race of a Championship. The first thing I realized was
that selecting a bike with the prettiest colors was not the right
thing to do. Each bike is suited to a particular type of track.
Narrow winding roads require plenty of grip and responsive breaks.
Wide open circuits with long straights need maximum speed, while top
acceleration is recommended for snaking roads that lead onto
occasional straights. Select the wrong bike and it will be a very
long road to your first championship title.
A good start is essential and for this Moto Racer includes a
'Ridge Racer' style 3-2-1 countdown with a turbo boost hidden within
the rev counter. Hit the right spot and you will be thrust forward
from last place right into the middle of the pack before you can say
'Geronimo'. Now you can continue for a place in the top three.
If you stick close to another rider you will notice that he
will occasionally ease the bike up onto it's rear wheel and then
increase the gap between you. This is the Turbo Wheelie that is
activated by pressing the R2 button and is essential to get to grips
with if you are going to complete the race - let alone win it. Using
the wheelie on a corner reduces the ability to steer the bike and
will only end up in tears. It's worth trying a couple of times but
only to witness the spectacular crash when your rider is catapulted
through the air before skating down the track on his leathers. The
wheelie must be timed to perfection. I found that just as you are
coming out of a bend before a long straight was ideal because the
boost only lasts a couple of seconds and by performing it early you
may just get another one in at the end of the straight. If you time
the corners correctly and refrain from touching the break then you
will reach a speed that you have never experienced in a PSX racing
game. You can almost feel the wind against your face and the fear
seeping through your trousers. If you activate a wheelie over a jump
on the motorcross bike your rider will begin performing a selection
of trick moves such as a handstand on the handlebars, no hands, no
feet and sitting on the bike sideways.
After experiencing Moto Cross using automatic gears I attempted
a few races using the manual gears and was amazed how natural it
felt. You can actually drive the bikes properly, slipping up through
the gears on the straights and clicking down a couple of notches for
the corners. Moto Racer is also fully Analog compatible with the
left stick allowing you to glide around those tight corners with
ease and the left stick working well for accelerating and braking.
track lasts between two and four laps, but they're pretty long and
give you a sporting chance to get to grips with all of the twists
and turns. With ten challenging race circuits (twenty if you include
reverse mode), eight superbikes and eight motorcross cycles,
stunning graphics and thrills galore, what more could I say but BUY
still trying to get the hairs on the back of my neck to lie down
flat after experiencing the thrills of Moto Racer. I loved the idea
of alternating between the extreme superbike circuits and the bumpy
dirt tracks as you must alter your style of riding from race to
race. The first descent motorbike racer to appear on the Playstation
has been a long time coming but this was well worth the wait.