When I was in high school, a friend of mine came into possession of a brand-new speed bike. We were all shocked when he sold the thing five months after having bought it. "Too fast," he claimed, describing some near-miss situations he'd experienced on the San Diego freeway. After playing Moto Racer, my friend's reasoning has become a bit clearer.
Not that Electronic Arts' latest racing title is toofast. But the gut-turning velocities achieved during parts of the game - and the requirement that your reflexes one-up this pace - is definitely where the challenge lies in Moto Racer.
Essentially two racing games in one, Moto Racer features both dirt and street bikes, with tracks that suit each bike's respective racing style. Dirt bikes can race in a classic motocross arena, complete with a crowd that roars each time you successfully clear a mogul or dirt ramp. Later, you'll travel to more outrageous environments, skidding out among your competitors in a jungle setting, and finally, performing handstands and triumphant leg kicks midair while negotiating the curves over the Great Wall of China. Street bikes settle for simpler tracks with more straightaways, frequently nearing the 200mph mark on their peaceful, idyllic highways.
The running theme in Moto Racer is speed, and the graphics are no exception. The models are so efficiently drawn that even with several opponents tearing up the road at once almost no slowdown is experienced onscreen. Drivers and bikes are all realistically animated and always quick to respond to the motion of your controller. Creating the illusion of track friction - the illusion that what you're controlling actually appears to be riding on a surface - is key to creating a believable racing experience. The developers at Delphine have definitely taken this into consideration here.
In-game controls consist of your basic direction, accelerate, and brake buttons. A special turbo button is reserved to accelerate over jumps and pass other bikes. Subtle combinations of these buttons need to be mastered in order to race efficiently on each track. You will soon find out that the turbo button needs to be used sparingly, and that braking is essential at certain curves, lest your driver will be sent sliding down the pavement like a helpless rag doll.
Sure, any racing game has the tendency to grow old eventually. But Moto Racer gets extra replay points for including a multiplayer option and a thumbs-up for being a racing title worth checking out.