Reviewed: August 23, 2001
Released: July 10, 2001
Even at the bargain basement price of $9.99, you have to wonder if Motocross Mania is worth the cash. Weak is a word that sums up the experience pretty well; everything from the frame rate to the physics to the actual game play mechanics.
The game is a port of a good PC title by the same name. While the PC version of the game was enjoyable, this rendition is far, far below par for the course. That Take Two published this title sort of boggles the mind, as they have put out several highly entertaining products. Sadly this isnít one of them.
As I said above, weak is the only word I can find to fully capture the essence of the Motocross Mania experience. At times the game can be somewhat entertaining, if you can get past the boring tracks, the sloppy feel of the controls and the total lack of any hint of realistic physics. In order to get to the actual game however, you have to endure no less than two, excruciatingly long (grab a book and start reading long) loading sequences.
The only reason two player versus mode is the least bit entertaining is because youíre playing against another human being, it sort of levels the playing field. When you are racing solo however, good luck developing any kind of technique at all, as the tactics you need to incorperate to win are all but impossible to pull off with physics that seem to fluctuate by the second. For instance, most of the time, landing on your motorcycleís front wheel is an instant crash. In the instance that you donít wipeout however, your bike will come to a complete halt until your rear wheel is back on the ground. The horror.
Also your rider seems to have an invisible force-field surrounding them, any time you get close to another rider, you can see there is like a no-manís-land between the vehicles. This gets especially irritating when you are pushed into one of the advertising laden walls and get hung up due to the bad collision detection and lack of a reverse throttle command.
Most of the jumps feel extremely floaty while there are a few that give you just no "air" at all. Also, the Newtonís Laws of Motion are apparently flexible as 80% of the time it is possible to pull off 90 plus degree turns while in midair only to take off in the new direction as soon as your rear wheel is on the ground.
I found the controls in Motocross Mania to be lacking in a few areas. The total lack of a clutch control really threw me in the beginning. As a motorcycle rider Iím acutely aware that knowing how and when to use the clutch is critical to the skillful handling of the bike, not that the word skillful applies well to this game. The lack of clutch issue has been sort of compensated for by the inauthentic looking power slide, executed by braking while turning. Also sorely missed is any kind reverse command.
Featured instead are several "stunt cam" views that I found, for the most part, worthless. High-Flyiní stunts are preformed by pressing the R2 button in combination with the D-pad and while I guess theyíre a nice addition, they arenít really incorporated anywhere in the game except for unlocking extras (most of which are pointless) and for the freestyle event where you perform them to try and attain the high score.
As far as race courses go, most of the tracks feel very similar and donít show too much variety as far as construction goes. Iíve never been a big fan of palate switching, and coloration is the only noticeable difference between most of the tracks. Ice and snow ride the same as grass and mud, so things tend to get repetitive fast.
The visual aspects of Motocross Mania are highly reminiscent of some of the first generation PSX titles; low poly, pixilated affairs, featuring a choppy frame rate and a slightly less than OK quality live action video opening sequence. The rider and bike animations are extremely limited. The suspension of the bikes has two positions; compressed, or not. Crash animations look even worse. About 80% of the time your riderís arms and legs remain in the riding position as you bounce down the track while your cycle heads off in another direction. Gran Turismo it ainít.
The tracks and backgrounds are simple and fairly bland. Actually, the best visual work in the game is in the plume of dirt kicked up by your rear wheel.
Most of Motocross Maniaís audio sounds muted when compared to other titles. The music consists of generic rock tracks that really donít add to or take anything away from the game. The muffled grunts and groans of your falling rider get more than old in a real hurry, as will the constant monotone droning of the bikes on the track. Ick.
Your personal tolerance for sub-par games may be greater or lesser than mine, but my active interest in this title died in about 30 minutes. All of my play-time after that was pretty much devoted to analysis of the game and documentation of problems.
Multiplayer in Motocross Mania consists of a Versus mode, which is simply a two-player head to head race. While it is nice to be on sort of an even playing field with your opponents, it canít really save the game. Versus is played on a Y-axis split screen that actually does a good job of letting you see enough of the track to race, if only the whole game could have been as good as the split screen presentation.
The fact that Motocross Mania is only a $10 game would normally be a selling point, but I have to say this game just isnít worth ten bucks. Perhaps things could have been helped by beefing up the multiplayer mode some, as it is really the only bright spot in the game. So please for your own safety and the safety of your families, stay far, far away from Motocross Mania.