SX Superstar Preview

We check out the newest Xbox and PlayStation 2 builds of Acclaim's realistic supercross game.

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live the life of a popular supercross rider? Do you dream about the fast bikes, dangerous stunts, major sponsorships, and big cash prizes? Well, thanks to Acclaim, gamers will now have the opportunity to experience it firsthand via SX Superstar, a supercross game that focuses heavily on the lifestyle and career-building aspect of the extreme sport. We recently got to look at updated builds of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of the game and check out everything they had to offer.

SX Superstar lets you manage the behind-the-scenes life of a supercross rider.
SX Superstar lets you manage the behind-the-scenes life of a supercross rider.

SX Superstar's primary focus is its championship mode. In it, you begin by selecting one of several amateur-level riders. Once you've done so, you'll find yourself in a disheveled apartment. This becomes your base of operations, housing your winnings, your personal garage, and your records and trophies. You also have a phone and a fax machine, which you will find yourself frequently using. Your agent will call and fax you fairly regularly, either to tell you about sponsorship offers from various companies or just to wish you luck. Other people, such as your girlfriends and parents, will periodically call as well, either to wish you luck or to chew you out for one reason or another.

From here, you can also access your race schedule. The schedule is broken up into seasons that consist of about 8-10 races, including some optional trick contests. If you manage to place well enough, you'll advance to a more-difficult circuit. The circuits are broken up into amateur, semipro, and pro levels. Success will also increase your bankroll through better sponsorships, which in turn will allow you to purchase new and improved bikes. The bikes are not customizable, but there are around 12 different ones to choose from. Cash will also go toward your personal expenses, such as housing and the maintenance costs for your bikes. Additionally, as you progress to more-difficult circuits, other aspects of your life will gradually improve, including better apartments and more-attractive lady friends. All this makes for a fairly immersive experience all around. The micromanagement aspects are set up in an enjoyable and accessible way, and there's enough overall depth to keep you interested as the seasons progress.

SX Superstar plays very similarly to Acclaim's previous supercross series, Jeremy McGrath Supercross. You primarily control your bike with acceleration and brake buttons and the left analog stick. There are two trick buttons, each of which performs a different type of trick. The buttons can also be used together to pull off flashier and more-impressive tricks. Being able to perform tricks largely relies on the game's "charge" mechanic, though. Hitting the charge button as you near a ramp or another jumpable object begins building your charge meter. Releasing it at the right time will allow your rider to get significantly more air, which in turn will give him more time to perform stunts. Timing is definitely of the essence, as even the slightest miscue will usually cause a crash. It isn't a perfect system, but experienced players should find it challenging.

Graphically, SX Superstar makes a passable effort. Though some elements of the visual presentation are a little rough, the game seems to be coming together, with a pretty clean look throughout. At this stage of development, there's a minimal amount of difference between the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions. Given the amount of comparative polish Xbox versions of multiplatform games tend to have, this was a bit surprising.

Graphically, SX Superstar makes a decent effort.
Graphically, SX Superstar makes a decent effort.

SX Superstar also boats an angst-ridden soundtrack that features such popular acts as the Deftones, N.E.R.D., Box Car Racer, Apollo 440, No Use for a Name, and Jimmie's Chicken Shack. The soundtrack is a mixed bag that clearly tries to appeal to fans of as many different musical genres as possible. The soundtrack's functionality is somewhat limited, allowing you to listen to only one song per race, without a jukebox feature or anything to let you switch between tracks or turn specific tracks off. Hopefully, such a feature will make it into the final game.

SX Superstar is shaping up to be a fairly entertaining game. Its lifestyle management facet is clearly going to be a draw for many supercross fans, and anyone familiar with the Jeremy McGrath style of gameplay should be able to pick up SX Superstar with ease. The game will have to stay ahead of the pack if it wants to make a serious run in the currently crowded market for cycle-racing games. SX Superstar is due out in June, and you can expect more coverage of it from E3 2003 and a full review upon release.

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