As play options go, Motocross Mania is quite robust. After configuring rider and bike skins, you can participate in a slew of single and multiplayer events. For an instant fix, Quick Race and Time Attack modes are offered. Several entertaining contest types fill out this section, ranging from skillful Supercross runs to stunt-inducing Freestyle setups, Motocross jaunts, and waypoint-based Baja competitions. There’s also the Championship Season.
On the simulation side you can tweak bike brakes, tires, gas and more. Once on the track, even a minor adjustment can give you some edge. But the unpredictable physics model more than offsets this. While at times it accurately registers gravity, momentum, and collisions, on other occasions you can take a fall off a cliff with no adverse effects. Tire grip also seems non-existent – you can race up the sides of a steep, snowy incline and not have any adverse effects on your speed or balance. The racing overall is very arcade-like, although it is more fun because of this.
One of the more impressive features are the ragdoll physics, which will send your driver flying and cartwheeling in accurately-calculated trajectories. Drop at an awkward angle from a long jump, for instance, and your character will realistically drop off his bike and tumble around, delivering amusing ‘oomphs’ and ‘owwwws’ along the way. It’s essential that you learn to lean into turns, powerslide, and brace for impact. You couldn’t become unseated more frequently if you were riding a mechanical bull. A reset feature places your back back on track, though crashing is still something you’d desperately want to avoid.
There is plenty of room for mishaps regardless. Keeping pace with the pack is a challenge few can rise to. Slip up on one of the many bumps, hills, or broken down bridges, and you’ll be eating dust the rest of the way. Cash earned through top placement will finance the better engines, chassis, brakes, and suspensions that will tip the odds in the good guys’ favor. The upgrade system is quite primitive in nature, but that doesn’t prevent it from enhancing the experience. Like the finished product, it holds its own, but does nothing above and beyond the call of duty.
On a positive note, there’s a lot to like about the title. Tracks are immense and can be explored in their vast entirety. Tons of rocky outcrops or bumpy back roads help participants grab big air in preparation for firing off one of the many rider tricks. You’ll find that there is a science to the stop and start racing style as well. Perform well and new tracks and tricks will be unlocked. The game runs at a blisteringly high frame rate, impressively conveying the illusion of speed. The ups cancel out many of the downs.
System Requirements: Pentium II 233 Mhz, 32 MB RAM, Win98
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