Unlike most people, I try to look forward to sequels. They should, in theory, take a popular game, improve the graphics/sound/gameplay, and fix the mistakes and shortcomings in the original. That is why I was looking forward to Moto Racer 2. Moto Racer was, and still is, one of my favorite racing games. Bright colourful graphics were combined with interesting levels, fast paced racing, and tight arcade-like control. While the sequel is nothing to complain about, it does not do justice to its predecessor.
The graphics in Moto Racer 2 are a mixed bag. Overall the engine has been cleaned up and improved over the original, but not to a really significant degree. The bikers are large, detailed, colourful and well animated. Still, for some reason they don't look any better than the original. Environment effects such as rain, snow, and nighttime are present and add variety to the tracks. The tracks themselves, however, are seriously lacking in variety.
The graphical variation between the levels is absolutely minimal. The fact that what IS presented is presented quite well is overshadowed by the fact that you will see almost the exact same things on every level with the same "theme". There are 5 of these themes, ranging from the Sahara to Brittania to a big metropolis. The fact that 32 tracks are all based on these same limited themes makes each race graphically tedious. Compared to the original, where every single level was totally graphically different, this comes as a shocking step backwards.
As well there are some frustrating graphical errors. One of the most glaring (no pun intended) problems is with the headlights on night levels. If your headlight (which appears to be, by the way, simply a flat bitmap) overlaps with the headlight of another racer, the area becomes dark. Light cancelling light eh? Must be a new physics development.
The sound is nothing to pine or praise about. The sound effects are limited to the bike sounds and the announcer, who is back with his "WHOA! WHAT A ROCKET" and other assorted phrases. The engine sounds relatively powerful and helps to convey a feeling of speed. When you are in a crowd, the sound of engines is exciting and makes you feel like you're actually in a big crowd. However, when you are far in the lead/back, the noise gets annoying, it sounds tinny and annoying. The commentary is spread out nicely, there isn't excessive intrusion but there is enough to help flesh out the sound. I think more atmospheric sounds would be helpful, for instance when you travel through the desert town on the Sahara levels, it is dead quiet. It would be nice to hear the bustle of a busy city, the birds tweeting in the forest levels, music coming from a house etc. breaking up the slight monotony of the sound. Again, the sound is not bad, but when compared to the original there isn't a noticeable improvement.
Fun Factor: [13/20]
For sheer speed and fun, Moto Racer can't be beat. The sequel tries hard to match the fun and excitement of the original, but falls quite pathetically short. For starters, the feeling of speed isn't nearly as impressive. Even in the arcade mode (the simulation mode is slowwwwwww and frustrating), the speed in Moto2 isn't as noticeable as the original. One of my biggest gripes, and the reason why this sequel will be deleted off my computer even though the original is still on, is because the LEVELS ARE BORING. Each of the 32 levels are NOT FUN, hence the low score for fun factor. Delphine seems to have realized that game players desire more levels, while at the same time forgetting that game players desire FUN and VARIED levels. There is nothing special to look at during each track. There are no monuments, no structures, no events (planes flying overhead etc.) to trigger the slightest bit of interest in any of the levels. They are straight racing, without any of the fun of racing. Needless to say, after being spoiled by the original, this will not do. If Moto Racer 3 comes out, they better realize that gamers aren't tricked by the fact that the 32 levels are actually 5 levels, simply repeated with a different shape, weather condition, and name. Shape up Delphine, fun factor took a dive in the sequel.
Delphine should have known they had a good thing going with Moto Racer 1. Flawless control, varied and interesting levels, fast paced gameplay were all present. There was basically nothing that could have been improved on the original. Delphine tried to fix what ain't broke. It's still not broken, but they definitely didn't fix anything. Control is the exact same in this game as the original, for this I am thankful. Movement is tight and responsive, if you screw up and smash into the side of a billboard, it's your own fault.
As I explained in the fun factor section, they shouldn't have messed with the levels. I'm sure 99% of gamers would agree that 10 great levels is better than 100000000 bad ones. While there are 32 levels, they definitely aren't great. None of them have the same flair as the original. Luckily, it's still fun to race around and up and down etc. It would just be more enjoyable if we were racing in a better setting.
The computer opponents aren't very difficult, but they will present a challenge, especially at the Difficult level. One good thing is that once you pass them, they don't keep right on your tail if you are blazing around the level. Nothing is more frustrating than burning by an opponent, get a (what should be) a huge lead, and watching them zoom by when you make a mistake. If you get far enough ahead, you can afford to make one or two mistakes before they catch up.
The different between Simulation and Arcade modes are significant. Simulation is a lot slower paced, cornering is realistic and it is a lot easier to smash into things. Since I'm not a big fan of realism, I dropped that mode quickly. Arcade is more my style, complete with unrealistic cornering and insanely high speeds. The choice is nice, and basically doubles the replay value of the game, as the levels require a totally different approach and gameplay style depending on which mode you play in.
Speaking of replay value, the track editor that comes with Moto Racer 2 is quite handy. It is very easy to use and allows you to quickly and painlessly build your own level, including the shape, height, bumps and "theme". Unfortunately, as the actual game levels, you are stuck within the confines of the few pre-made themes. You can't choose buildings/rivers/bridges/tunnels/etc. for your own level, those depend totally on your "theme" and which of the 5 arrangements you choose. It's a shame, if we could have built and positioned custom structures, the gameplay would be endless and the repetitive levels included in the game would be a moot point. Step in the right direction, though.
Fortunately, Delphine didn't mess with the main components of the gameplay, the control is still as tight and the racing itself is still as fun as the original. Nevertheless, the crappy levels you are forced to race in drop the gameplay down a notch.
No other racing game is as fun as Moto Racer over a LAN/modem/Internet. Fortunately the sequel continues the tradition, and adds new features to enhance the already impressive multiplay aspect of the game. If you have a crappy connection and want to play your buddies on the same computer, up to 4 players can play simultaneously on the same screen. This is a really nice feature, although with 4 players and 4 screens, the framerate drops quite quickly. For some strange reason, Delphine chose to split the screen vertically when there are two players, making for a very tall and narrow view that is sometimes kind of strange. Not very difficult to get used to. Internet and LAN play is supported, both of which are easy to use and have little lag. No complaints in this department.
Overall Impression: [6/10]
I wish I could say this was the best sequel in the world. It is not. In fact, it's not even as good as the original Moto Racer. Considering this is meant to IMPROVE on the original, and in fact they DEPROVED it (if that isn't a word, it should be). It's still a good game in its own right, but the fact that I deleted this game off my computer after I finished this review, and the fact that Moto Racer 1 is still on says a lot about this sequel. Go for it if you are absolutely sick of the original Moto Racer or if you just want to try the new levels. Not a bad game, just disappointing.
When I hear the word sequel in conjunction with the word movie, images of poor quality and lack of taste come to mind, ie. "I Still Know What You did Last Summer". However, when I hear the word sequel with the word video game, thoughts of enhancement come to mind. As the rulebook states, when you make a sequel to a ground-breaking game such as Moto Racer, you improve it and set another standard in motorcycle racing. At this point I'm not sure whether to call Moto Racer 2 a set back or a bad clone, due to the lack of enhancements that could have been added. Despite the fact, some new features include; a track editor, four-player split screen racing, thirty-two tracks, and the option of arcade or simulation mode. The only useful and notable enhancement was the track editor. For those of you who are not familiar with the Moto Racer series, it combines speed bike racing with dirt bike racing over alternating tracks.
Let's talk about graphics. The menus are not an important portion of the game, but they should at least be designed well and look somewhat impressive. Pixelated icons just don't set the mood well for a game in 1998, maybe in 95 this wouldn't have mattered. Upon starting my first race, I concluded the 3d card options weren't turned on, sadly I was mistaken. These could possibly be the most pixelated Direct3D graphics ever produced. As far as background depth goes, it consists of nothing more than a few flat pixels with a few shades of color. Moto Racer 1 environments were beautiful and set the tone superbly. Such features as helicopters soaring above the tracks and gorgeous beach landscapes are missing. Instead, the old Moto Racer 1 tracks are replaced with gritty ones that range from the desert to the amazon. The creators even decided that lens flares would be a nice addition to Moto Racer 2, unfortunately implementing them never really achieves anything, they just serve as an additional annoyance. Even the detail on the bikes and the racers is a step down from Moto Racer 1. The final little rant I have to make concerns the lack of true variety in the track settings. Only four semi-unique environments are enclosed, and well frankly they just don't cut it. Overall, about the only thing I enjoyed about the graphics was the lack of jagged white edges in them that plagues so many 3D games.
Moving on to the sound, I suppose motorcycle sound effects aren't that hard to reproduce, therefore the creators of Moto Racer 2 shouldn't have a problem. Fortunately the sounds appear to have been taken directly from Moto Racer 1 to 2, creating a somewhat realistic racing environment. One of the major deterrents in Moto Racer 2 is a basic element, control. After racing my first lap, I decided the controls were way too jerky, but to my dismay I couldn't alter the joystick sensitivity. To define what I mean by "jerky" I will elaborate; when I hit right or left the screen awkwardly jumps in that direction, creating a dizzying experience. I do realize steering a motorcycle becomes a bit hairy at 190mph, but I am looking for an arcade experience similar to that of Moto Racer 1, not a life-like simulation.
Gameplay consists of several modes; head to head with human opponents, racing against several CPU riders, or touring mode. The obvious goal of the game is to win each race and kick some ass. After you get into a rhythm, racing becomes quite easy and winning doesn't pose much of a challenge. Another drawback is the Artificial Intelligence, after all the races I completed I never saw the computer run into a wall or fall off his bike like any half-witted human would do. I felt as though I was up against an impossible force, because the only time they would fall off their bikes is when I ran into them. For the most part, the fun factor was ruined for me due to the fact that I had already played Moto Racer 1. Just about the only worthy feature was the included track editor, much like the one featured in the old NES game: Excite Bike. I quickly became bored racing against the computer and opted to work on my own tracks when I wasn't playing TCP/IP against a human.
The complete array of multiplayer connection types are supported here, TCP/IP, IPX, and all the other fun stuff. One of the best multiplayer features was the addition of a 4-player split screen mode, to be played locally.
My overall impression: Wow, was this game ever a let down... The lack of effort and quality completely caught me off-guard. Due to the fact that Moto Racer 1 had set new standards in the motorcycle gaming community, I was expecting another major hit. Unfortunately when I want to have a realistic 3d dirt bike, off-road adventure, I will turn to a Microsoft product, Motocross Madness.. then again, Moto Racer 1 is always an option. If I'm in the mood for some intense speed like racing I will turn to one of those Sega games. Sorry Moto Racer 2, but you come in last place.