Take your pick: Microsoft's Motocross Madness 2 or Deibus Studios' Motocross Mania. The games are similar in almost every respect, which is evident before you even open the box - so why would you go with a copycat game from an unknown developer like Deibus? Games like these typically end up in the bargain bin after a week or two - if you can even find them there. Deibus and its publisher, On Deck Interactive (a division of Take Two Interactive), must be trying to fool unwary players into buying their product instead of Microsoft's. Or, they must have played Motocross Madness 2 - and they've decided that they can do better.
While it's apparent that Deibus and On Deck are trying to bank on the success of Motocross Madness 2, what's less obvious is that the game is actually on par with Motocross Madness 2 in terms of visual quality and is arguably even better in its controls and exciting track designs. However, Motocross Mania does have some bugs and performance problems, and this is what prevents it from completely measuring up to Motocross Madness 2.
Also, Motocross Mania requires a powerful computer to run well. You'll probably need twice as much as the required 64MB of RAM to get the game running smoothly. While it will run with only 64MB, you'll probably have to suffer through frame-rate slowdowns while the game uses up virtual memory on your hard drive. You can tweak the game's graphics settings to help smooth the frame rate at the cost of some visual detail, but even then, you might still encounter other performance problems during play.
Once you get it running well, Motocross Mania offers a lot of value in its exciting gameplay and fun track design. In Microsoft's Motocross Madness games, bikes are quite difficult to control competitively, especially on the tight Supercross tracks, in which jumps will often catapult you past a turn. In addition, the berms are too low to keep you on the track. On the other hand, in Motocross Mania, the jumps are set at strategic distances to make riders either have to get up to speed to clear the span or slow down enough to potentially overshoot the next turn. But because the bikes are more responsive than they are in Motocross Madness, it's easier to compensate for miscues. The game sacrifices some realism in the interest of making the game more enjoyable to play - for instance, you can stop the bike on a dime against a high berm if the weather isn't dry or snowy. But in general, the game seems realistic enough that it's challenging to stay competitive throughout a race.
Motocross Mania offers four different play modes, including motocross, supercross, baja and freestyle. The baja tracks are probably the most enjoyable of these. Besides having interesting settings, the tracks are designed to take you over some breathtaking elevation changes. You'll hold the throttle wide open as you climb up the side of a steep hill and then wind through a few turns and over a couple of short jumps - just before you dive down the other side and have to slam the brake near the bottom to slide through a hairpin turn. Then you throttle up again to climb up the next steep incline. It definitely takes some practice getting used to the bikes and learning the tracks in Motocross Mania - but the game is easy enough to get into, so getting used to the gameplay doesn't take any real time commitment.
You can perform more than two dozen tricks on your bike by holding down one of the trick buttons and pushing the controller in a combination of two directions for the easy ones, and three to four directions for the more advanced tricks. You get points for performing tricks during a competition but not during a practice session. If you accumulate enough points, you'll unlock the more advanced trick sets. Tricks are pretty forgiving in Motocross Mania - for instance, you can land successfully from a hundred feet in the air with your hands off the handlebars. But you still have to be cautious, because it's very easy to twist the bike around in midair, land awkwardly, and then crash. And if you lose positions during a race, it's hard to catch up. You'll find it's rewarding to try and master the various tricks in the game.
Overall, Motocross Mania is an enjoyable racing game. It has a variety of high-quality tracks, and it controls well and looks good. If you can afford only one motocross game, then Motocross Madness 2 is still the best first choice. But if you're a fan of motocross, then Motocross Mania would also make a great addition to your collection.