EA Sports' Superbike 2000 is one of the most realistic and accurate motorcycle racing games out there. A wide variety of tracks and bikes and gorgeous animations and graphics offset the game's steep learning curve and will keep you coming back for more.
Superbike 2000 has gameplay options similar to those in many other PC racing sims. The game's career mode lets you select a factory bike and rider and enter a series of races that span 13 weekends. Each weekend is composed of a number of racing events that include two free practice sessions, two qualifying sessions, a superpole, and two final races. The practice sessions are designed to give you a better feel of the bike and let you make any necessary changes without any consequence to your overall standings. Your performance during the qualifying and superpole events then determines the starting grid of the final races, and you move on to the next track after you successfully complete them.
The game has four difficulty settings that you can change anytime during the game. The four levels toggle assists like automatic transmission, automatic rider movement, crash recovery, extra brake power, and automatic braking. Those who don't know a lot about the dynamics of riding a motorcycle would do well to select some of the assists. With the difficulty set to "real," which offers no assists at all, Superbike 2000 becomes a serious challenge. Unlike cars, motorcycles don't have the luxury of turning and stopping on a dime, so you'll need to keep your eyes as far down the track as possible in anticipation of upcoming turns and traffic. A steady hand is necessary when taking turns, as too much braking will cause the bike to slide out from underneath the rider, and too much throttle will result in a spectacular crash.
In addition to simply keeping the bike on all two wheels, you also have to contend with constantly adjusting the rider's center of gravity. Moving the rider to a higher position will allow for better cornering and stability through turns, while keeping him low and close to the bike will make for higher top speeds and stability through the straights. The manual rider adjustment and touchy bike controls might seem a burden at first, but die-hard motorcycle racing fans will undoubtedly welcome the game's sense of realism.
The bikes in Superbike 2000 include factory rides from Ducati, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Aprilia. Each of the six bikes not only looks and sounds different, but has unique handling characteristics as well. For instance, the Ducati 996 SPS and Suzuki Alstare GSX-R750 aren't necessarily the quickest bikes on the field, but their overall stability is attractive to novices, while the brute force of the Honda RC45 and Kawasaki ZX-7RR is better suited for more aggressive racers. Though the difference between one bike and another won't be instantly apparent, you'll gradually settle on a favorite after a few laps with each.
Superbike 2000 is built around an advanced version of the Superbike World Championship engine, and features bikes, riders, tracks, and scenery that look markedly improved over the original. The detail found in the bikes is quite impressive, as everything from the grooves in the front cross-drilled rotors to the aluminum-tipped exhaust pipes is clearly depicted and can be easily identified on all the bike models. Even details as minor as the glare coming off of the instrument cluster have been accounted for in Superbike 2000. The tracks and their surrounding environments are also accurately modeled after their real-world counterparts and are some of the best looking that you'll find in any racing game.
The rider animations don't look quite as good, but they do include an array of movements that capture the essence of motorcycle racing. For example, computer-controlled riders will constantly twist their heads sideways to take a look at the rest of the pack after each turn or shake their fists in anger after being cut off. In the first-person perspective, your rider's hand will twist progressively downward as you feed the throttle, and his left will work the clutch every time you shift gears. The realistic animations, coupled with the game's crisp graphics, result in replays that are the closest a racing game has ever come to rendering TV-quality visuals on the PC.
There's no soundtrack of any kind during races in Superbike 2000, and the sporadic commentary from the game's British announcer comes only during the start of each race and after a crash. However, the engine noises and exhaust notes have all been sampled from real-world bikes and don't ever become overly annoying as is common in some racing games.
Both visually and technically, Superbike 2000 is an accurate representation of SBK racing that will appeal to novice and expert racers alike. Once you get past the learning curve, you'll find Superbike 2000 to be one of the most realistic racing games to date.