No wonder they have helmet laws.
When someone says "motorcycle," the first thing that comes to my mind is "plastic
surgeon." Why, you ask? Well, long ago and far away in a land called UC Berkeley,
I attended a lecture featuring a plastic surgeon. I don't remember exactly why
he was there, but one thing he brought up smacked me out of my post frat party
haze faster than a paddle to the backside: motorcycle accidents. Apparently, motorcycle
crash victims are some of his best customers and the guest speaker went on to
project some massively disturbing shots of severed limbs and other mangled things
that used to be attached to people like you and me.
So as I play through Acclaim's Ducati World Racing Challenge, I am
reminded how very bad things can happen on two wheels. Very, very bad things.
Like a bad accident, DWRC charges forward and slams you head first
into a wall before you ever see it coming. Given, things don't look so bad at
first glance. The graphics don't seem that bad and you get to race on a bunch
of cool bikes. But as we all know, appearances can be deceiving.
Starting off, you'll have the option of running a Quick Race or entering Ducati
Life. Ducati Life is basically a career mode, in which you'll race for cash
and prizes, buying new bikes and upgrading them as you go along. Seems pretty
normal, right? Wait until you start a race.
What starts off as an innocent motorcycle racing game quickly becomes an ordeal
of unholy gaming evil. Before the green light ever flashes, you'll notice the
less than desirable third-person camera angle, which is followed up by the two
bad and really bad first-person angles. Oh well, as the seasoned gamers
that we all are, bad cameras cannot deny us respectable gameplay, right? Too
bad there isn't any to be found.
While the arcade style of control is easy to grasp, there are definitely some
strange things going on. Standing out like a sore thumb is the so-called "manual
shifting," known to most people as "automatic." Despite having this
"manual shifting" feature, bikes will upshift on their own once a certain speed
is reached. This also means that down-shifting to slow yourself involves a round
of button mashing in order descend a single gear.
Players will also notice the worm-like animations of riders as they lean into
the curves. For some reason, their head starts the lean and the rest of the
body slowly follows in a wavy fashion. I never knew annelids could ride so well.
As you fly through the various tracks, you'll also notice the problems with
textures. Tracks as well as the surrounding environments seem to change before
your very eyes! This is most apparent while passing through lighted tunnels,
since the change in textures makes it appear as if the lights are moving.
But wait, we're not done yet. Other bizarre things keep happening in the world
of Ducati. For example, the ability to drive up walls. That's right - take a
turn the wrong way and there's a distinct chance you may be able to ride the
wall. I like Spider-Man and all, but I never knew he rode a Ducati motorcycle.
Someone should have reminded the developers that this isn't Tony
Spidey isn't the only hero to make an appearance in this game. Apprently a
bunch of Jedi are here, too. A force field surrounding each of the bikes makes
it almost impossible to get close. This mysterious power will often push your
bike away or even cause a loss of control. I always knew the Jedi were cheaters,
but this is ridiculous.
Most importantly, the game is just plain boring. The audio is pathetic, the
visuals are flawed, and the gameplay provides no intensity at all. Most of the
time, you're racing a small group of other riders that do nothing to make the
race exciting. Stop this bike, I wanna get off.
To its credit, DWRC does have a bunch of unlockable stuff. Do well
and you'll be able to get new bikes and tracks. What this game needs, though
is the ability to unlock another game.
It's pretty hard to mess up a racer, but it looks like Ducati World Racing
Challenge has found the formula. Too many technical problems and not enough
fun drive this bike straight into the ground. You'll have more fun playing Hang
On again with Shenmue.