Bigger and better than its predecessor, Moto Racer 2 from Electronic Arts and Delphine offers more tracks, more bikes, and a custom track-editing feature that seriously enhances the game's replay value. This is still not a true motorcycle simulation, but as arcade racers go, Moto Racer 2 is one of the best.
Like the original game, Moto Racer 2 allows you to race superbikes or motocross dirt bikes on a variety of tracks. There are eight different bikes in each category, each with its own ratings for brakes, grip, top speed, and acceleration. As in the previous version, the quality of your brakes is meaningless, because you rarely use the things. Top speed and acceleration are usually the most important items to consider, though a good grip rating becomes vital in bad weather conditions.
One of the game's strengths is the sheer number of tracks available to you right at the outset - a whopping 32. True, eight of these tracks are repetitive simple loops that are intended as templates for the track editor (more on that in a second), but the other 24 tracks still represent a refreshing change from the usual "win on every track and we'll unlock one more" formula. The tracks are split evenly between superbike and motocross courses, and the environments include city streets, a rain forest, the desert, and the countryside of Brittany.
If the basic tracks aren't quite enough to satisfy you, the game also allows you to create and edit your own tracks with a slick built-in editing tool. Beginning with a flat circle, you can add and move control points, which allow you to alter the shape of the track. You can then raise and lower control points to create hills and valleys. The editor warns you when you've created too sharp a curve or too steep a hill, so you're pretty much assured of building a decent track every time. Finally, you can select any one of the game's preset environments for your track, and the editor will apply it automatically. It would have been nice to have more freedom in the placing of certain scenic elements (such as tunnels and bridges), but overall the editor is impressive. Once you have a track built and saved, you can easily share it with other Moto Racer 2 fans - each custom track file only takes up about 1KB of disk space. The track editor helps to keep the game playable even after you've conquered all the default courses. Better yet, it brings back fond memories of EA's Racing Destruction Set (for those Commodore 64 veterans out there).
Gameplay is pretty much like the original Moto Racer. The game is not a motorcycle simulation, but it does feel sufficiently different from most car-racing games. Also, Moto Racer 2 does a great job of conveying the sheer speed of each race: When you top 150mph in Moto Racer 2, you really feel like you're going that fast. The difficulty levels are well stepped so that you can win pretty easily on the lowest setting but will be hard-pressed to place in the top three on the highest.
After playing Motocross Madness, some gamers may be disappointed by the limited - and relatively tame - tricks available in Moto Racer 2's motocross mode. Some other gameplay elements are disappointing as well, such as the fact that your speed drops almost to zero when you brush another bike - even though that bike continues to fly along at its previous pace. Also, the hard-to-spot curbs along the side of most tracks have the same deadening effect on your bike and will virtually eliminate you from contention after a single bump on the highest difficulty setting. Rarely will you ever crash in this game, unless you hit an obstacle during a wheelie (and then you might as well give up, as the game waits for an excruciatingly long time before setting you back on your bike). In fact, if you hit a jump poorly during a motocross race and start flying off the track, an invisible barrier will snap you right back in bounds, and you won't even lose control of your bike.
Obviously, the game was intended for fast-paced arcade action, and on that level it performs admirably. So long as you're not looking for a pure motorcycle sim with realistic physics and tons of motocross tricks to land, you simply can't go wrong with Moto Racer 2. With two racing modes, thrilling gameplay, a ton of tracks, and a track editor, Moto Racer 2 offers a whole lot of action for any arcade racing fan.