With such a disappointment caused by last year's offering into the superbike-racing category, EA Sports had a lot to prove this time around. Unfortunately, Superbike 2000 misses the mark, as it's a boring, ugly racer short on both innovation and presentation.
It's obvious that Superbike 2000 was targeted exclusively at the hard-core superbike-racing fanatic. The game features six different superbike manufacturers and more than 20 real-life sponsored riders, who race on 12 different tracks, all of which are modeled after their real-world counterparts. Each bike can be individually customized, with various settings from fork height to gear ratios. However, these options usually consist of only one or two actual choices, making each customization more of a toggle than a complete option package. The game features three different race modes - a single race, a championship, and a practice mode. The single race lets you race a full grid in either one race or two spread out over a weekend. The championship mode has you create a character, choose a bike and rider, and then play out his career in a series of races. The practice mode lets you race any course you wish, without having to worry about opponents, time limits, or any other hassle. But while there are more than enough modes to keep the superbike junkie busy, the pathetic gameplay makes the number of options totally irrelevant.
Playing this game doesn't convey the excitement inherent to superbike racing. In fact, it's somewhat difficult to believe that you're actually racing a rocket on wheels, as there's really no sense of speed found anywhere in the game. The racing consists of going really fast, then slowing down to make a tight turn, then going really fast again. Unfortunately, the bikes in this game have a horrible turning radius, making turns a little too tedious. It appears that EA tried to make up for this by making your bike much faster than the AI-controlled bikes, so you don't actually have to corner well to win. While the back of the packaging touts that the game has "realistic rider animations," the animations in this game are anything but. In fact, you never actually crash your bike. If you run into a wall at 100mph, you'll simply turn a different direction and pop a wheelie. Take a turn too fast, and you'll simply go off the track and eventually pop a wheelie. Run into another bike, and you'll shake your fist at the other rider, and then somewhere down the line, you guessed it, you'll pop a wheelie.The graphics immediately stand out as one of the biggest problems this game faces. The animations of the bikes and riders are jerky and unrealistic, the backgrounds are horribly bland, and the track passes by in an extremely choppy manner. Simple things like the movement of the bike's back tire or tire marks aren't there, and you seem to almost float over the asphalt. One nice thing is that you can see your rider realistically moving the body of the bike as he shifts his weight on the frame, but the effect is short-lived when you watch the shadow of a tree cut through your racer.
In keeping with the general theme of the game, the sound is poor as well. Racing in the game consists of listening to fairly generic-sounding techno and the muffled whine of your engine. There are no screeching noises when you make tight corners, and running into an opponent always makes the same dull crashing noise. Before actually starting a race you'll get to hear an overexcited Brit talk about how well he thinks the race is going to go, followed by him commenting when the lights on the tree drop. Unfortunately, the commentary is really dry and takes away from the game.
Another huge problem of the game is the loading time. This game takes forever to load everything. If you let the menu sit too long, you'll be treated to a huge loading time while it gets the demo ready. Then when you're ready to select from the menu again you get to sit through that same loading time while it gets the menu ready, and so on and so forth. Getting into a race takes time to load, and exiting a race takes time to load - you'll spend more time looking at the loading screen in this game than you will on the actual racetrack.
While this game does have better options than last year's game, it really isn't significantly better than than Castrol Honda Superbike. With horrible gameplay and subpar graphics and sound, Superbike 2000, like last year's offering, is a game only fanatical superbike-racing junkies could like - and only extremely forgiving superbike-racing junkies at that.