150MPH, jump the hill, do the Big Kahuna, crash into the train. You're paint.
Motorcycle games don't exactly get the same high profile attention as their automobile-based counterparts. Although games like Redline Racer provided good arcade street racing action and recent simulations like Superbike 2000 push the pro-racing angle, few have actually tackled Motocross racing.
It may be another one of America's great hick sports and it may be extremely painful, but Motocross racing makes for some damn salty gaming, as proved in the the original Motocross Madness. It had you racing either in the outdoors or in a stadium, performing stunts and using a fairly realistic (if extremely exaggerated) physics model to allow you to fly 100 feet in the air, do a back flip, and crash in a pile of flailing limbs. It was fun, it was pretty, it was a little weird, and it got played a lot.
Now it's sequel time. Developer Rainbow Studios has pulled out all the stops for Motocross Madness 2. As a result, it looks to upstage not only it's predecessor, but just about every other racing game on the market.
The basic premise is the same as before, but several new elements are introduced. In addition to the Nationals (outdoor track-based races), Baja, Stadium (Supercross), and Stunt modes of the original, the new Enduro races have been added. In Enduro, you compete with several other racers to complete laps through waypoints in populated outdoor areas. That means, for example, tearing down a ravine, past a broken bridge, over a trailer park, on a few highways (replete with cars and trucks), and past a mineshaft. Judging from the beta, Enduro is one of the most exciting and hilarious racing experiences out there.
Also new is the Pro-Circuit mode, which is basically a single-player racing campaign. You start out as a newbie competing in local Enduro races, earning money by winning, paying medical and repair bills, and eventually striving to end up as Supercross Champion.
The same physics model found in the original is back to provide more deep and tasty racing. The control leads to more involved and satisfying races, a far cry from your average MotoRacer clone. If anything, the control seems to have been streamlined and is just a bit more intuitive than before.
There will also be an included track editor, more bikes, and some additional multi-player options.
The gameplay is backed up by the prettiest graphics engine in racing game history. Hills don't look like polygons - they look like hills. Trees, brush, and cacti, all in full 3D and large quantities, dot the landscape just waiting to be run over. Textures are detailed, lighting is terrific, environment design (a much better term than 'track design,' as there aren't any races which physically confine you to a track) is exemplary, and there are lots of little details such as airplanes flying overhead or trains circling diamond mines. You're going to have to see for yourself when it's released, but Motocross Madness 2 probably features the most advanced terrain engine and one of the most pleasing graphics engines on the market.
All of this combines to form what will most likely be one of the best racing games of 2000. Even at the beta stage, Motocross Madness 2 is a beautiful, involved, meaty racing game that should satisfy anyone who's ever rode or just dreamed about one of these hell-on-shocks bikes. May is seeming farther away, all the time...
Burn rubber! Motocross Madness 2 is due out in May 2000 for the PC.
Click on the screenshots to enlarge.