Game Over Online ~ Motocross Madness 2

GameOver Game Reviews - Motocross Madness 2 (c) Microsoft, Reviewed by - Prolix

Game & Publisher Motocross Madness 2 (c) Microsoft
System Requirements W9x, Pentium 266, 64 MB RAM, 350 MB, 3D Accelerator, 4x Speed CDrom
Overall Rating 89%
Date Published Saturday, June 10th, 2000 at 02:32 PM

Divider Left By: Prolix Divider Right

Within the past decade, "extreme" sports have developed an overwhelming popularity. This is due in part to clever marketing and the athletes themselves constantly going bigger and doing more technical tricks; ten years ago, motocross riders weren't even attempting most of the tricks that have become the norm today. This resurgence in popularity of the extreme sports created a video game market for titles based on such events, and a few years back Microsoft surprised gamers everywhere with the release of Motocross Madness. At last a game that captured the adrenaline pumping sport of motocross and brought it to the masses. Motocross Madness allowed gamers to compete in a variety of events, ranging from traditional stadium style track racing to all out freestyle in the backcountry. After a lengthy absence, Motocross Madness once again returns to engulf gamers in its fantastic gameplay, this time with a boatload of new options and breathtaking graphics.

Motocross madness is truly unique in the fact that it supplies gamers with every aspect of motocross. Players can compete in one of six variants of the sport, ranging from all out freestyle, where players compete to perform the most tricks, or just plain old supercross on an indoor track. Additionally, for gear heads, there is the option of tweaking your bike. You can adjust everything from the amount of compression in your suspension to the amount of horsepower each part of your bike receives.

When the graphics engine functions the way it is supposed to, Motocross Madness 2 looks simply amazing. The reason I mention "supposed to", is that I encountered a problem on my TNT graphics card where on one level the textures were all yellow and red (it's the stuff migraines are made out of). One of the most impressive features of the graphics engine is its ability to keep a constant and smooth frame rate. Even on a 450mhz and a TNT setup, I hardly noticed any slow down. This is quite a feat considering the amount of derbies all over the courses. Rather than just creating bland environments that only catered to big airs like its predecessor did, Motocross Madness 2 is littered with all kinds of little goodies throughout the courses (Baja, Stunt, and Enduro), such as trailers, complete with plastic flamingos in the front. Another feature I found that enhanced the outdoor environment was the implementation of a realistic sun. That is, when your facing the sun and riding up a hill the environment becomes darker and objects are less clear. Motocross Madness 2 does an excellent job of recreating some of the United States best spots to motocross at, and with locals ranging from Bear Mountain to the Arizona Sonoran desert, gamers will be hard pressed to find more desirable locations. Unfortunately, the resolution for MCM2 stops at 1024x768, which doesn't bother me, but I'm sure some people will gripe. With a bevy of complex options for the knowledgeable gamer, MCM2 doesn't disappoint in the graphics tweakability section. Only the most jaded of gamers will find themselves at odds with Motocross Madness 2's visuals, to the casual gamer this is pure eye candy.

The control of your dirtbike is rather simple. I opted for a four-button gravis game pad that did the job perfectly. Tricks are done via pressing one of two trick buttons and a direction on the game pad. These single tricks can be strung together with others for huge point bonuses. In addition to stringing tricks together, you can also tweak them out by pressing different directions once you are doing the trick, for even bigger bonuses.

In the sound department Motocross Madness 2 doesn't have much to offer, which is in part due to the nature of the game. The roar of the bike is done quite realistically and will sound like anything you hear on ESPN. Other than a few miscellaneous crash noises, there isn't really much else here in terms of effects. One disappointment was the lack of a decent soundtrack, which could have been facilitated through Microsoft's massive budget. The opening intro of the game features Incubus and the credits of the game feature Strung Out, but that's about it for music. I would have opted for a good punk or 80ies metal soundtrack, but I didn't make the game.

During the time I spent with this game, I found myself more attracted to the stunts mode of play than anything else. With sixteen tricks, and a massive number of variants, I found myself amused for a good amount of time. Don't get me wrong, the other events in the game aren't bad, I just preferred stunts because of the massive airs and the up to date trick list. You can do just about every trick you see the pro's doing on TV, such as the judo kick and superman. Ok ok, enough about stunts, on to the other modes of play. Baja pits you against other riders in a race through a huge outdoor course via checkpoints, while enduro is on a closed course with huge burms and kickers where the racer must complete laps to win. The only event I really didn't like at all was supercross, because it was just too damn hard. I found myself losing just about every time because I was inept at controlling my bike over the humps and burms. It seems as though the computer was perfect at navigating the technical courses, even on easy mode. Despite the lackluster performance of supercross, the rest of the gameplay modes shine.

Nearly every multiplayer capability is included right out of the box, even Microsoft's online gaming service, the Zone (surprise surprise). Up to eight players can compete at once in each of Motocross Madness 2's different gameplay modes. Also included is a motocross form of tag, which isn't as fun as it sounds because it's pretty hard to tag another rider going 60mph. On a dial-up connection I found Internet play, for the most part lag free. Multiplayer is a great aspect of MCM2, and it gets extremely competitive. It will be interesting to see what happens once Microsoft makes the track editor available for download (they promised it, but its still not out yet); anyone remember excite bike for Nintendo?

Despite all the praise, there is a downside to Motocross Madness 2. As it stands right now, replayability isn't there. After two weeks I find myself less attracted to single player, more towards multiplayer. Even at that it's still not very exciting. If Microsoft does release a track editor, Motocross Madness 2 will have infinite replayability. Unfortunately, I noticed a lot of bugs; sometimes racers would start facing the opposite way in enduro races, and other little glitches like this. As I mentioned before, I am unable to play one level of MCM2 because of a texture bug, which makes the entire level red and yellow. Aside from bugs, there are gameplay issues. I felt that this game is marketed towards novice gamers and is attempting to cash in on the "extreme" factor of the sport. However, doing huge airs and going for the longest distance isn't rewarded much, unless you know what you are doing, in other words, a hardcore gamer. It took me a while to figure out that if I experimented with my compression ratios of my shocks I would be able to land some of these epic airs I had been busting out. But, the market this game is geared towards couldn't possibly figure it out by themselves. Why not resort to the manual or online help you say? Well I tried it, and didn't get much from it. The help manual mentions shock compression, but doesn't explain what the ratios should be in order to obtain your desired results.

Motocross Madness 2 is an excellent game, but it depends on what you're looking for. It's not a simulation and it's not an arcade experience, but rather a hybrid of the two genres. MCM2 was designed to attract both novice and hardcore players. Novice gamers will find there is a learning curve; I threw some of my friends in front of the game and they took a while to get down the physics. As for myself, it took no longer than a minute to discover how to do tricks and land them. Priced at only $35 US, this game is a steal and most gamers will find themselves amused for weeks on end, possibly months if the track editor ever comes out.


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