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MOTO RACER
S.SHOT
Developer Delphine Options
Distributer EA 1-2 Player
Game Type Racing Memory Card
Review Date December 1997 Analog, NegCon
Screenshot No.1
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SCENE
GENRE
GRAPHICS
SOUND
PLAYABILITY
VALUE
OPINION
 
 
REVIEW INDEX
Setting the Scene
The 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.

Genre
Moto 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.

Graphics
I 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.

Sounds and Effects
Good, 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.

Playability
Moto 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 season.

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 transmission.

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.

Value for Money
Every 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 IT.

Opinion
MARTIN
GRAPHICS: Brilliant I'm 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.
SOUND: Good
PLAYABILITY: Excellent
VALUE: Very Good
OVERALL 92%

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