Play a motorcycle racing game in a first-person view, turn off any foreground graphics and engine noise, and you have to wonder what makes it different than a car racing game. How do you know if you're straddling or sitting? If the motorcycle game is enough of a simulator, you should be able to tell. The first thing you'll notice is how long it takes to pitch the bike left and right as you lean into turns; a race car's steering wheel should have a noticeably faster response. There's also the rate of acceleration/deceleration, and that's about it.
Although you can't really categorize Moto Racer as a simulation, it does attempt to make the experience more like racing a motorcycle, whether it's a high-powered superbike or a motocross dirt bike. You have to race both in this game, and each one is considerably different than the other. And even though the game is not a simulator, the two different bikes and the tracks in the game offer enough of a variety to make it plenty challenging. In contrast, the Playstation version of Moto Racer is much more of an arcade game, and is therefore easier to control, handle and win.
Set the PC version of Moto Racer on the easiest difficulty level and it's still pretty challenging. It might take you dozens of laps on a certain track to get good enough to place in the top three, which is what you have to do to progress through the championship ranks - and access the last four tracks included in the game. You start every race in the back of a field of 12 riders and have to fight your way to the front, while avoiding the sides of the road. (Another thing that makes the Playstation version easier is that there are only eight bikes to contend with, and all ten tracks are immediately available.) Some of the tracks offer a little room on the shoulder, but if you go too far, you'll bounce off the sides and slow down considerably. The fact that you hardly ever go head over heels across the road is not very realistic, but then again, this isn't a sim.
There are eight tracks total in the game. At first you might feel ripped off knowing that there are four tracks that you can't access until you place at least third on the first four tracks in championship mode. But after that, the tracks are available everywhere else in the game (including practice and single race modes). Although this may at first seem frustrating, it adds to the challenge and acts as a sort of prize for success.
The only problem is, it can be damn hard to get that prize. You have to run some nearly perfect races to place, since it seems that the computer riders don't make many mistakes, especially those at the front of the pack. On the Playstation version, you can smoke through races with little problem, even at the highest difficulty setting.
An important part of the game is choosing the right bike for each track. Each bike has four variables: acceleration, maximum speed, grip, and braking. Braking seems to be the least important, since you don't use the brakes much, but the others are extremely important, and can make a world of difference.
As important as it is to find the right bike, it's almost as important to play on a high-end machine, preferably one with a 3D card and MMX, since the game supports both. Play on a lower-end machine, like a P133 - which, admittedly, is not that low-end - and you'll suffer through some pretty slow frame rates. Part of the problem is that there are only two resolutions to choose from: 640x400 and 640x480. Other than that, you can switch to a letterbox view, but that's about all the tweaking you can do.
Still, Moto Racer is playable on a P133, and there's no denying that it's quite challenging. Don't expect to win these races after only a half-dozen tries. Some races are easier than others of course; for the most part, though, you should expect to spend some frustrating time trying to place in the top three. But the prize is four more tracks to ride on!