Simply put, Ducati Extreme is one of the most enjoyable racers to grace the Series 60 platform.
- Pretty deep driving mechanics
- Cool upgrade system
- Funky sound
- addictive gameplay
- great sprite-based gfx.
- More bikes would have been nice
- No multiplayer
- Can't tell which bike is which, when in-game.
Ducati Extreme is an arcade-style motorcycle racer, defined by its fun racing mechanics, its use of fictional racers, and its addictive bike-shopping system. Ducati Extreme doesn't shoot for realism, nor does it include the over-the-top action of games like Road Rash. What it does offer is a more nuanced gameplay than virtually all competition in the genre. Ducati Extreme may be a conventional bike racing game, but it's a conventional game done right.
When you first boot up Ducati, you'll be given a choice between several clean-cut, bright-eyed racers--folks who might easily be models for the Italian bike company that has been recently thrust into prominence through its frequent product placement in films like Blade II. Every racer has a couple of lines describing his or her personality, and each one handles a bike the same way--like a champ.
Regardless of who you select, you'll be given a crappy bike at first, ironically called the "Monster." Gunning your engines at the starting line, you'll endure a serious anticlimax as your bike fails to exceed 80mph in sixth gear. Fortunately, through the strategic upgrade of bike parts (using tournament winnings), like your engine, muffler, or suspension, you'll be able to eke out more performance from the underpowered Monster. Upgrading a bike adds to its trade-in value toward superior models, so there's never a reason to save up money, except for making a few repairs on your bike after each race. This is great, since it means you'll continually be inching closer to the near-200mph speeds attainable in a tricked-out Ducati superbike.
Crashing and making wheel-damaging sharp turns will affect your bike's performance to varying degrees. As mentioned, the only way to correct this problem is by paying to fix each component on your bike. If you fail to do this, you'll soon be no competition to your rivals who diligently tweak and polish their cobalt-blue machines.
Ducati Extreme actually sports some deep gameplay mechanics compared to most mobile racers. You won't be braking in Ducati--instead, you'll be learning to strategically shift up and down and make sharp turns (achievable via a sort of double-tap on the controls). If you lean too long into a sharp turn, however, your wheels will start realistically wobbling as the bike threatens to fall out from under you. Experienced players will learn to use sharp turns intermittently, within the context of a wider turn, to entirely obviate shifting down. Additionally, gamers will eventually discover that slamming into an opponent, under the right circumstances, can send you hurtling ahead of him. This is perhaps the first time a mobile racer has been sufficiently complex to warrant an evolution in strategy as players become more proficient.
Graphically, Ducati Extreme is strong, boasting several distinct tracks and clean, attractive sprites. The frame rate never stutters on the Nokia 6600, even at the highest speeds. However, while the game's five bikes look very different in the store, they aren't differentiated at all on the track, save for the obvious speed improvements in superior models. You'll be able to tell what bike your opponents have by their top speed: "Hmm...that guy's going around 140mph. Looks like he's got a Paul Smart replica."
Ducati's sound is just great. While there's only one music track in the game, it's just unbelievably catchy, combining an old-school, hip-hop beat with funky MIDI instrumentation that's a clear throwback to racing and shooting games of the 8-bit era.
The reputation of "extreme" games notwithstanding, Ducati is decidedly a great game that does service to the fashionable motorcycle outfit that reportedly took a great interest in its development. While other mobile racers struggle to master things like acceleration and turning, Ducati Extreme has provided us with a game that remains interesting and appealing for many hours. The game could have included a few more bikes and upgrade options, as well as a multiplayer component (which seems like a no-brainer in a racing game). However, Ducati is miles ahead of the current glut of mediocre mobile racers.