Moto Racer 3 isn't quite as enjoyable or as polished as it could have been.
six years ago by Electronic Arts, the original Moto Racer capably
blended the two distinct disciplines of superbike and motocross into one
explosive package and proved to be one of the first truly satisfying PC
motorcycle racing games ever produced. 1999's Moto Racer 2 offered
numerous new perks and even more options, yet it failed to deliver an
appreciably better ride at a time when motorcycle racing was really
beginning to take off with the likes of Microsoft's Motocross Madness.
Now, with Moto Racer 3, returning developer Delphine Software and new
publisher Infogrames have upped the ante considerably by somehow
squeezing almost every conceivable form of two-wheeled competition on a
single disc. From speed-drenched blacktop racing to dirt-encrusted
supercross and motocross, trick-crazy freestyle, painstaking trials, and
even a certifiably suicidal "traffic" mode, the game seemingly covers
all the bases. Unfortunately, it also feels awkward and incomplete. In
attempting to be all things to all PC motorcycle enthusiasts, Moto Racer
3 isn't quite as enjoyable or as polished as it could have been.
game's presentation is just as inconsistent. Its racing environments
are clean and colorful with generous decaling, signage, track textures,
and offtrack periphery. Its bikes are believable and nicely rounded
where they should be, and the mounted riders move about in their seats
to mimic their real-life counterparts. Smoke and mud pour from tortured
tires, airplanes and blimps roam through the skies, and oddly
out-of-place cheerleaders flaunt their pom-poms. Yet especially when
compared with recent graphical showpieces like EA Sports' Superbike
2001, Moto Racer 3 seems all too average. Superbike's wonderfully
realistic source-sensitive lighting is sorely missed, as is its
intricate level of motorcycle detail. Riders in Moto Racer 3 do not gun
the throttle or offer gloved fists to offending competitors, and
machinery does not break apart or exhibit damage after a crash. Granted,
precious few motorcycle games have ever represented their machines in
less-than-showroom condition, yet the potential for carnage would
definitely have been appreciated. In-game audio is only fair, with the
highlight being the loud and whiny whirr of your own motor. Competitor
engines do not scream with the anger they would on a real track, and
mechanical and environmental effects are virtually nonexistent.
The first-person perspective comes complete with a reflective windscreen.
most damaging graphical problem is the game's frame rate, which often
chugged and sputtered on our Athlon XP 1600+/GeForce 2 test computer.
Reducing the resolution from the preferred 1024x768 to 800x600 and
removing antialiasing markedly improved the situation, although by doing
so, we lost much of the clarity and graphic detail we would have
otherwise enjoyed. And even then, the game slowed noticeably at the
slightest hint of tire smoke and exhibited clipping in the speed mode.
a Moto Racer 3 bike is, in a word, interesting. The only motorcycle
game to offer such a diversity of disciplines, it demands that you learn
how to control your mount through dirt and on pavement when entering
and exiting jumps and while perched perilously on tiny obstacles. And
clearly, some modes are superior to others. Speed mode, for example, is a
high-velocity blast speckled with seemingly talented AI competitors who
race smartly and go out of their way to avoid bumping incidents.
Learning your way around the game's surprisingly intricate and effective
garage facility is almost mandatory when you increase the difficulty
level and opponent speed, yet there's no denying that this mode is
generally geared toward arcade simplicity rather than simulation
complexity. There's also no denying that a trio of tracks is far too
Wandering through the
roadblocks and traffic of Paris is equally stimulating, although the
streets are frightfully thin and the hurried motorists frightfully
dim-witted. As a result, you may end up crashing so frequently that you
may want to forever curb your city racing. Freestyle's big bag of tricks
is intriguing not only for its serious aerial potential but also
because it demonstrates just how realistically your bike's suspension
system compresses and extends. Sadly, Delphine has positioned the
default trick-producing keyboard hotkeys in such a manner that the
really high-scoring stunts are inordinately difficult to perform without
first growing 10-inch fingers. Thankfully, tricks can also be initiated
through the joystick, although you wouldn't know it by checking the
Moto Racer's supercross/motocross mode is a stomach-churning good time.
trials segment, where you'll vainly attempt to balance and meticulously
inch your bike over various obstacles, will more than likely seem like a
curious sideshow to anyone who can't control their patience.
Conversely, high-flying supercoss/motocross is a howl. Its assortment of
venues is once again limited to three, but there's a lot of variety
here nonetheless and enough challenge to force several additional trips
to the game's exceedingly valuable garage. And certainly, you'd better
learn the particulars of front-to-rear weight shifting if you ever plan
to succeed over these wildly undulating circuits.
Racer 3 successfully combines five extremely unique motorcycle
disciplines into one convenient package and delivers a substantial
helping of thrills and spills. However, it is not nearly as deep as it
initially appears or as sophisticated as a third installment should be.
Nor does it offer an online matchmaking service or dedicated server for
multiplayer competition, relying instead on eight-player LAN and
old-school Internet TCP/IP connections, whereby you must know your
partner's locations beforehand. For these reasons, Moto Racer 3 may hold
more appeal for motorcycle newcomers and younger audiences than
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