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Jeremy McGrath Supercross 98
(PSX) Review

Background Info
Acclaim Sports is making a fairly strong push towards becoming a respected sports game manufacturer, and while Jeremy McGrath Super Cross 98 isn't exactly stellar, it, in addition to a great game like WWF Warzone, and the NHL Breakaway series, make Acclaim a real contender in the sports arena. Of course, they still get their asses stomped by 989 Studios and EA Sports, but it's a good start.

Presentation/Graphics : 73
The graphics are surprisingly good, with little breakup, and no slow down (that I noticed). Even the split screen 2-player mode (which IMHO is a MUST for any racing game) has a very good framerate, rarely dropping below 30fps, if at all. Track details are nice, but an improvement that should be made is that there should be more interaction with the track details, ala the Road Rash series. There are all these tempting targets encircling the track (innocent families, etc), but they are all protected by those damn guardrails. The only downside to the graphics is the rendering of the bikes and the riders, but only because they are uninspired, not necessarily bad. These graphics still only rate about a low 70's because of the high level RR3D set (stop whining about popup: the graphics were damn good).

Presentation/Audio : 64
The audio was a little underwhelming. The engines sound about as powerful as a 25 year old Yugo, and the sound effects of tires spraying dirt are sadly underdone. There are some nice crowd sounds though, when you do a trick (I have no idea why they put this in: you entertain the crowd, but get no benefit, and more often than not end up crashing). The main problem I had was with the commentary, as the announcer/lobotomy patient says the same things, over, and over, and over, and...well, you get the point. PSX CD's are able to hold tons of sound (Warzone has about 180mbs), and the sound in this game reminds me of some of the early N64 games. Blah.

Interface/Options : 71
A little confusing. I don't really like to look at the manuals (a matter of principal ;) and thusly, it took me half an hour to figure out why my created track wouldn't load. Saving and Loading aren't excessive, though waiting for the tracks to load (about 10 seconds or more) gets a little boring if you want a really quick game--patience is a virtue after all! Interface is interface. It actually takes an EFFORT to do it bad, so basically every game is average (about a 70).

Gameplay : 69
The only problem with gameplay is the lack of a true "feel" of control. Your bike seems to move on rails, with no experience of drag, skidding, etc, which are the things that would give the game a real racing feel. Even Road Rash 3D pulled that off. One other annoyance is that the Nitro blast doesn't really seem to speed you up, and it is unlimited. So what was really the point of having it then? There is no strategy involved (stockpiling nitros, using them at the right time) and it is useless anyway. The only benefit is that if you crash on straight-aways, you can accelerate to top speed faster, but crashing on the straights is quite rare. Analogue support is included, which, as usual, makes the control that much more precise and accurate. I'm not quite sure where a piece on a track editor should go, so it's going in gameplay. This is a wicked addition to a racing game. If you are like me, your favorite part of the old Excitebike on the NES was making your own tracks, and it is no different here. If you use the track base well, you can create some long, nicely varied tracks, and this adds to the replay value immeasurably. The only gripe I have with the track editor is that it only has 15 or so options for track creations, whereas Excitebike had 20+. Still a very cool option though.

Difficulty & AI : 78
This is a surprisingly good aspect of the game. Some racing games are far too easy, while some, like RR3D are impossible after the second level. There are 24 racers with different skills and personalities, and this adds to the depth of gameplay, especially in the Season Mode. I had no problem finishing in the top 3 at the medium difficulty level, but the hard level is another matter, and you need to use trickery to win consistently ;) You also have to tweak your bike depending on the track surfaces, in Speed/Accel, Slick Tires/Rough tires, and Quick/Slow handling. This adds a slight dimension of strategy, and that is a good thing ;)

Overall : 71
I think this is a very fun game to play. This game just misses my usual ratings bar of 73 (or a "B" level game), but there are times when the fun factor makes up for lack of graphics, audio, etc. The great Track Editor gives the game a ton of replay value, and the split screen 2-player mode is excellent, with very little slowdown. If Acclaim makes a SC99, all they need to do is tweak the graphics, steering and commentary and they will have a racing game that is pretty close to perfect. (Something like RR3d with a track editor and 2 player mode would be just fine ;) The game is basically a behind-the-player, 90's version of Excitebike, meaning what it lacks in graphics and audio, it makes up for in fun.

By: Shanny 9/29/98

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