If you're a big fan of realistic racing sims, the kind with tons of real-world physics and statistics, Mindscape's MegaRace 2 is not the game you've been waiting for. A sequel to the sleeper hit MegaRace (I bet you figured that one out on your own), MegaRace 2 seems designed solely for the action fan, bypassing entirely the usual load of bells and whistles that decorate most sims in favor of sharp visuals and arcade gameplay. Combine this with some of the weirdest video clips to ever be included in a game, and you have well, it's hard to say exactly what you have, and therein lies one of MegaRace 2's biggest problems.
What MegaRace 2 sets out to do, it does very well. Each of the game's tracks is modeled at a level that approaches perfection. Even playing straight from the CD (loading the entire track on your hard drive offers better on-track performance at the expense of a longer wait before each race), the animation is fairly smooth and believable and stands out as a graphics achievement against even the latest processor heavy racing engines. MegaRace 2's sense of shticky humor is also a lot of fun, with plenty of twisted video clips that outline a futuristic society gone mad. Your show host Lance Boyle and his lovely (but remarkably vacant) assistant irritate, offend, and insult without ever losing any of their goofy charm. Backing all of this up is a solid techno soundtrack that builds up adrenaline without driving players crazy with repetitive licks.
Unfortunately, good looks and a bizarre cast aren't enough to make a great game. Despite MegaRace 2's brilliant production quality, at its heart this title is little more than RoadBlasters remade for the 90's. Between each race, players are given a chance to spend the money they've earned on missiles (to shoot people in front of you), mines or oil slicks (to shoot people behind you) or shields and car repairs (to protect you from other people's weapons). While the concept of a shooting car on a racing circuit is certainly appealing, if unoriginal, this smattering of weaponry ensures that the whole process gets repetitive rather quickly. Also reducing MegaRace 2's effectiveness as an action title is the lack of any sort of rear-view mirror, which ensures that the player who gets in the lead early will almost certainly be shot to death by trailing opponents without any way to intelligently avoid the barrage. Finally, Mindscape has completely snubbed the current trend towards multi-player gaming by excluding any sort of network or modem competitive mode. With such a small number of tracks included, this ensures that once you've beaten the game (which any true fanatic will do fairly quickly), there's no real reason to go back and play again.
For all its problems, there's no doubt that MegaRace 2 is a beautiful game that is definitely a step forward for graphics technology. If you've got some friends coming over who haven't shown enough appreciation for the raw power of your new desktop, this might be the application to wow them into submission. If, however, you're interested in playing an arcade racer that can deliver some serious entertainment over the long haul, you may want to hold off on your purchase until the release of Sega's Daytona.