Search For Posters!
  Join the SGN staff!
Help Wanted
Release Dates


About Us

The Sports

Partner Links
Auto Insurance Quote
Irvine Moving Companies
LA Moving Companies
Brand Name Shoes

Moto Racer 2 (PSX) Review

Background Info

The original Moto Racer was almost universally hailed as one of the great arcade racers for the Playstation. As much as I wanted to like that game, I was among the slim minority that didn't agree. While I thought it was an okay racer, I just didn't feel that it ranked among the upper tier of arcade-style racing games. Now along comes the eagerly anticipated Moto Racer 2 (MR2). Has EA improved it enough to make me a convert and, more importantly, to meet the high expectations of fans of the first? Read on to find out.

Presentation/Graphics : 85
The great CG style intro to Moto Racer has been replaced by a live action, quick-edit style montage set to a raucous punk soundtrack. This is no doubt targeted at the hardcore bike enthusiast and, while there's obviously nothing wrong with that, the original intro impressed me far more.

For all the praise heaped upon the graphics in Moto Racer, they left me cold. They were not ugly by any stretch of the imagination, but they struck me as rather sterile. Whatever it was that caused those graphics not to appeal to me has been remedied here. The graphics in MR2 just seem to have more character. At first glance, MR2 looks leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. However, it doesn't take long before some warts make their way to the surface, primarily in the form of abundant draw-in. That's the price that's been paid for so much additional trackside detail and increased speed (more on this later). Fortunately, this is limited to the surroundings and doesn't affect view distance. Unfortunately, there is so much draw-in on some tracks that it can be distracting. That's the bad news. The good news is that it's only really noticeable when racing in certain environments (there are several) at certain times of day and, in most instances, the game looks terrific.

Races are set in one of many locales ranging from metropolitan to county (which looks strikingly similar to the Hometown track in Need for Speed III) to desert to jungle, and all look great. Weather effects, rain and snow in this case, look equally good, as does night driving. Although the beam of light cast by your headlamp looks cool, it doesn't illuminate the track like the headlights in Need for Speed III or V-Rally do. With few exceptions, everything looks clean and moves along at a good clip. However, there are areas (particularly the jungle tracks) where you'll notice a fair bit of pixelation and graininess. Some environments are definitely more eye-pleasing than others and this results in the graphics being a bit of a mixed bag. Still, there's a lot more to like than dislike and I'm sure that, overall, most gamers will be impressed.

Presentation/Audio : 82
The audio package as a whole is really good, featuring good dynamics, pretty effective use of surround sound, and realistic engine sounds for both the street and motocross bikes. One niggle I have in terms of the sound effects is with the braking sounds. Apply the brakes on asphalt and you get a little tire squawk. That's cool, but hit the brakes on a motocross bike on a dirt track (or any bike on snow), and you'll hear the same screeching. Huh?! I realize that this is an arcade game, but a little realism wouldn't have hurt here.

Music is a collection of 8 unremarkable punk tracks that sound like one track that has been mirrored and reversed, with a little Clash-style reggae thrown in for good measure. They are so indistinct from one another that I was actually convinced the random track function on my copy of MR2 wasn't working. I made a point of checking by going back and listening to each track and, sure enough, it was working fine. Not that it matters much because you'll need to have the music level set way down if you want to hear your engine anyway, which is a must if you're using manual transmission.

The original announcer makes a return appearance, throwing in the odd comment during the course of the race, and ending with his typical, annoying put-down "You...lost...the...race." if you fail to finish in the top three.

Interface/Options : 80
Anyone familiar with Moto Racer will feel right at home with the interface in Moto Racer 2. It's almost identical, and that's a good thing. Simple and intuitive, you can be up and racing with nary a glance at the manual. Three menu selections are presented off the top: Start Race, Options, and Track Editor. The path to a race is direct as can be. At the first two race menu screens you select between one/two player, difficulty level, race type (practice/single race/championship) and arcade/simulation mode. The next screen presents the available tracks and allows you to choose driving conditions such as day/night and weather (including rain and snow). You can also set lap length and toggle time attack mode on off. A handy help bar across the bottom of the screen lets you know which commands are used to move among the various options. The next step is to pick your bike. The bike selection screen uses the same graph system to visually represent the relative strengths and weaknesses of each bike as did the first game. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

You're now ready to race, but be prepared to wait. Load times in Moto Racer 2 are long, almost intolerably so. It can take up to 45 seconds to load a track and almost half a minute to get back out to the menu after a race. If you're running an 8 race championship or, worse, a series of them, load time can really add up. It's not hard to imagine that load time alone could add a half hour to 45 minutes to a full evening of Moto Racer 2.

There are a limited number of options available from the front-end menu. Load and save options are located here, as are screen adjust and controller selection. Audio options are conspicuously absent, being accessible only from the in-game pause menu where levels for sound effects, announcer and music are independently adjustable. MR2 supports both standard and analog control (dual shock and 'wheel' modes). Several configurations are offered, but it's not possible for the user to remap game functions to create their own. Moreover, there is no option to adjust steering sensitivity in dual analog mode. There are four sensitivity settings to choose from in wheel mode, but they are non-adjustable. Most gamers should be able to find one that suits their driving style but, still, it would be nice to be able to tweak them.

So, what about the much ballyhooed track editor you ask? Well, there's a learning curve to be sure but, once you get the hang of what's possible and what's not, it's really quite simple. As an indication of just how easy it is, I was able to create my first track without peeking at the manual. Granted, it took quite a bit longer than it otherwise would have, but I was able to figure it out on my own. You can either modify an existing track, or start from scratch with a circular model. You're provided with a set of tools, presented as Windows-like icons, which you use to stretch the basic track into turns, create different elevations, and add uneven surfaces (mounds). When your basic design is done, you can choose the locale of the track as well as the default conditions (day/night, weather, number of laps) that will be used when the track is run as part of a championship series. Up to 8 tracks can be created and they become part of the basic track set as well as forming the Custom Championship series on their own. I was somewhat concerned about how much memory card space this would hog, so I created and saved the maximum 8 tracks. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that MR2 took up only two blocks total, created tracks and all. Very nice. The track editor is a very worthy inclusion that is sure to extend MR2's replayability.

Gameplay : 80
One of the very first things I noticed upon firing up MR2 is the vastly improved sense of speed. That was one of the main areas I felt the original game was lacking (at the lower difficulty settings) and, for an arcade racer especially, that's a cardinal sin. The street bikes in MR2 top out at just over 200 MPH, and it feels like you're going that fast. Don't expect Wipeout or Rage Racer type speeds mind you, but MR2 is fast enough to provide a thrill.

I tried MR2 with the Sony Dual Shock and Namco NeGcon controllers, and in both cases control is solid. I do wish it were possible to adjust the steering sensitivity of the Dual Shock, but the default is quite good. The shock function is quite well done, and is almost strong enough to shake the controller right out of your hands as you bounce over the hills and uneven surfaces of the dirt courses.

Another major gripe I had with Moto Racer was with the track design. There is often a fine line between challenge and cheapness and I thought Moto Racer crossed it a little too often. That's been mostly corrected in the sequel, but there still seems to be a spot or two on every track that is designed to set you up. On the whole though, track design is good if a little uninspired.

As far as tracks go, there are lots of them. EA claim 32 or more, but I'm not convinced they are all unique. It's pretty hard to tell for sure though, because they're disguised every which way through use of different environments, times of day, and weather conditions. My guess is that the number of 32 is arrived at by counting mirrored and reversed versions of 8 basic layouts, but I'm not certain of that. In any case, there are sufficient tracks to keep things interesting and any lack of variety has more to do with the limited number of locales than anything. Plus, you've got the track editor to fiddle with, so there's eight fresh ones right there.

There are eight street bikes and eight dirt bikes to choose from, each rated in the areas of speed, acceleration, grip and braking. It's important to pick the right one for whichever track you're racing because there are noticeable differences in handling between them.

You can race them in either arcade or simulation mode. EA contend that simulation mode introduces real-world physics. That may be true, but the most noticeable difference is that if you contact a barrier in simulation mode, you crash. Arcade mode is far more forgiving in this regard. It's still possible to crash, but the more likely outcome is a loss of speed commensurate with how hard you hit the barrier.

This brings up the most serious problem I encountered in MR2. If you're using a manual transmission and hit a barrier while racing in arcade mode, not only do you lose speed, but the CPU drops you down a certain number of gears based on how hard the contact was. That's fine if you're running with automatic transmission, but in manual the natural inclination is to gear down before taking off again. Trouble is, even after you adjust to the fact that the CPU does this, you can't tell how many gears it will drop you down and there's no adjusting to that. Furthermore, there are times where the contact has been so slight that you're not even aware of it and then you suddenly realize that you're a gear or two lower than you thought you were. This occurs quite frequently because it's possibe to drive over some roadsides without penalty and you never know when the CPU will decide to gear down on your behalf. Thanks but no thanks.

There are several championships that can be run including Street Bike, Dirt Bike, Mixed (Street and Dirt courses), Custom (your created tracks), and an Ultimate Championship which is a collection of the toughest courses and is unlocked by performing well enough in the others.

Difficulty: 85
One of the big knocks on Moto Racer, even among the faithful, was that it was too easy. I found the same thing. The first level in particular was so easy that I got bored with the fact that it had to be completed before you could move on. MR2 is a definite improvement in this area. This is partly due to a fairly aggressive AI that is quick to jump on your miscues (especially as you move up in difficulty), but probably even more so to the challenging tracks and sheer number of them. Even at the easiest setting it's something of a challenge to win the street bike challenge in your first couple of tries. What's curious though is that, with little practice, I was able to dominate the dirt bike championship. I found the same thing with the original game. Maybe I'm just better suited to dirt racing.

In addition to being pretty aggressive, the AI riders are pretty unpredictable: not to the point of fallibility though, at least not that I've seen so far. They will, however, take different lines and that requires you to bob and weave your way between them in order to work your way to the front of the pack. The only downside is that if you make contact with them you'll be subject to the slow down described above and they won't. On the contrary it almost seems like they get a slight speed boost a la Rage Racer.

Overall : 83
There's no question that Moto Racer 2 has improved on the original in just about every way imaginable, and the increased number of tracks and track editor will really add to its replayability. However, for everything Moto Racer does well, and that's plenty, it seems to miss a turn somwhere else. I still don't think it rates among the best of the arcade racing games available for the Playstation, but it's a very good game in its own right. That said, Moto Racer fans will be over the moon about the changes that have been made here and, for them, Moto Racer 2 is as close to a "must buy" as you can get.

By: Pete Anderson 9/21/98

© 1998-2006 Sports Gaming Network. Entire legal statement. Feedback

Other Links:
[Free Credit Report  |   Car Insurance Quotes  |   Designer Shoes  |   Outdoor Equipment

MVP Baseball 2003
Street Hoops
Mad Catz Xbox Hardware

Inside Pitch 2003
MLB Slugfest 20-04
Tennis Masters Series