Jeremy Mcgrath Supercross 98

a game by Probe Software

Platforms: PlaystationPSX

Genre: Racing

Overview

As information leaks out in this industry, there are certain games that grab my attention more than others. Well, when the tidbits starting hitting the streets about Jeremy McGrath Supercross 98, I was totally psyched. The PlayStation has really been lacking a true off-road, down and dirty motorcycle racing game. Sure, [[Moto Racer ]]is great, but it is not dedicated to off-road racing. The only other option is VMX Racing, and we all know what a disaster that was. Finally -- could it possibly be the off-road racing that I have been waiting for?

Jeremy McGrath Supercross 98 looks to fulfill every dirtmonger's fantasy with seven tracks that range from indoor to outdoor, mud, ice, rain, snow, daytime and nighttime racing. But wait, if you act now they will even throw in two classes of bikes (125cc and 250cc), huge jumps, variable terrain, two player split screen action and some serious wipeouts. But that's not all! Acclaim Sports will even throw in a track editor to let you create and save your own tracks so you can fashion your own racing excitement. I know it all sounds too good to be true, and in the end it just may be a little too good to be true.

Gameplay

I am in one of my 'get right to the point' moods, so let me tell you exactly how I feel about this game right up front. I think that Jeremy McGrath Supercross 98 had all the potential in the world to be the next (first) great motocross racing game for the PSX. The options, levels and track designs are all there, but there are just a few things about it that keep it from greatness. I will say that there are some pretty cool innovations to be seen, but in the end you will find yourself feeling a bit disappointed. At least I did. So there you have it.

Without a doubt, the best thing about this game was the track editor. For those of you who do not know what a track editor is, let me explain. The track editor allows you to edit tracks (track editor...edit tracks...get it?). This means that if you do not like the seven tracks that are provided for you, go ahead and make your own courses. I think that you are going to start seeing this as a standard inclusion in racing games from here on out. Anyway, if you have any amount of creativity, you will really enjoy using this feature. This alone will keep you playing longer than you otherwise would have.

Speaking of tracks, that is one of the other bright spots of the game. I think the seven default tracks had a pretty decent design to them. There was a good combination of jumps, turns, hills, indoor racing and weather effects to keep things interesting. I think that it could have been really easy to overuse the weather or overdo the jumps, but I think there was just the right amount of everything on each track. Also, the tracks were filled with shortcuts that could help you gain that little bit of an advantage on the pack. The reason I say "could" is because a lot of the shortcuts were quite hazardous if you did not quite make the turn or if you overshot the path. A perfect example is a shortcut that cuts off a fairly significant portion of a corner that has you doing an almost 90 degree turn to get back on the path. If you don't make the turn, you will crash head first into the side of the barn, thus negating any sort of advantage you may have gained from taking the shortcut to begin with. I really thought this made things more challenging because I had to weigh the risks of trying the shortcuts versus the benefit. Sometimes it was better to just stay on the beaten path but if I had some ground to make up it was worth riding a bit more risky.

The game itself is has your standard single race mode and a championship mode but also includes a ghost rider mode that will let you compete against your best times. I found that like most racing games, I spent most of my racing time in the championship mode. Beating the championship mode with the 250 cc class bikes will enable a mirror track mode and I am currently 3/4 of the way through a championship with the 125cc bikes but I assume it will also open up some new mode or cheat. The championship mode is based on a point system and you will receive points for your finishing position in the race. It spans over eleven races and your points are cumulative. The best part about it was that the computer controlled racers were all competitive. Usually in racing games, you will have one computer controlled racer that kicks the crap out of the others and it winds up being a competition between you and that other racer. I found that there was a good mix when it came to the other racers and there was not one dominant computer controlled racer. This really made it much more enjoyable because I did not have to finish first every race and I actually cared who finished ahead of me and in what position.

The last thing that I really thought was cool about the game was that I had the ability to customize my bike before every race. There are three categories that can be changed: engine, tire grip and handling. This means that you really only have two bikes in the game but you can make the bike handle to your liking before every race. As with everything though, there are trade-offs. When I first played the game, I thought "crank everything up" and let's rip. I thought that it was stupid for the game to let me crank everything up because I were going to beat everybody, right? Well, you will quickly learn that this is not the case. The more you increase your speed the more you take away from your acceleration. Sure you may have good top end speed but it takes your bike forever to get to the speed. This forces you to adjust your bike to the conditions of the track you are racing on in that one particular race. Let's say that you are racing on a short track with lots of turns. It is much more important to have good acceleration because you will never have the opportunity to hit the top speed. Like I said, this kept me adjusting my bike between every race which I thought was quite cool.

You are probably sitting there, scratching your head, wondering why the game that has all of these options and sounds this great received a score of 74. It all comes down to one word: gameplay. It is not that this game was terrible in the gameplay department but it just was not up to par with what I was expecting. There were a couple of glaring weaknesses. The first of these was the whole physics/control issue of the bikes. They just did not really feel, for a lack of a better word, natural. It is not that the control was off or anything but my bike just felt like it was sliding around instead of driving. Also, when you would hit a corner, real motorcycles would have the back end slide around but in this game, it was like your entire bike had to turn. There were also a lot of times that I felt like I was bordering on out of control and not in a good way. I know that people are going to say that that is what motocross racing is all about but the feeling you get is not a reckless out of control because you want to be but more of a out of control because of the physics of your bike. It is really hard to explain but after playing a few games, it will be quite apparent what I am talking about.

The other thing that really bothered me about the game was that it was at times difficult to tell which direction the track was turning. I can't count the number of times that it looked like I was supposed to turn one direction and ended up in the wall instead. After learning the tracks you will remember which way to turn but I still thought this was weak. I mean, if I am going to lose the race, fine, but if I lose because I could not determine which direction I needed to turn, that just sucks. How many times in real life racing have you ever seen somebody racing along and turn the wrong way and later in the post race interview say that they thought that the track went that direction? It just does not happen (and if it did, that racer has problems). Anyway, the point is that this game tries to act as realistic as possible, but problems like this just cause it to shoot itself in the foot.

Graphics

Hmmm, I am not really sure what to say. On one hand, this game has some really cool details like the rain, snow and especially the exhaust that plumes out of the exhaust pipe when you hit the nitro button. Also while the bikes look like bikes, they don't quite match the detail as those in Moto Racer. On the other hand, you have the not so good looking crashes with the racer laying flat as a pancake and bent up. It actually reminded me of the outline sketch from a crime scene (don't ask me why). Also, the tracks were pretty fuzzy looking and the game just lacked the overall polish that it really needed. Even the dirt did not look that good and there were polygon seams popping up quite often. Also, I can only assume that my little problem with not being able to follow the direction of the turns was related to the graphics and the lack of detail.

Bottom Line

If the idea of making your own tracks appeals to you more than the idea of racing on them, then Jeremy McGrath Supercross 98 should satisfy your creative juices. If true physics, good handling and realistic racing are more your cup of tea, you may want to give this a rental first. This game has all the ingredients to be a great game, but just falls short. I hope that Acclaim Sports keeps with the series and improves the gameplay and graphics, because the rest of the package works. A valiant effort that just misses the mark.

Other games by
Probe Software

Jeremy Mcgrath Supercross 98 Downloads

Jeremy Mcgrath Supercross 98 download

Overview

As information leaks out in this industry, there are certain games that grab my attention more than others. Well, when the tidbits starting hitting the streets about Jeremy McGrath Supercross 98, I was totally psyched. The PlayStation has really been lacking a true off-road, down and dirty motorcycle racing game. Sure, Moto Racer is great, but it is not dedicated to off-road racing. The only other option is [VMX Racing, and we all know what a disaster that was. Finally -- could it possibly be the off-road racing that I have been waiting for?

Jeremy McGrath Supercross 98 looks to fulfill every dirtmonger's fantasy with seven tracks that range from indoor to outdoor, mud, ice, rain, snow, daytime and nighttime racing. But wait, if you act now they will even throw in two classes of bikes (125cc and 250cc), huge jumps, variable terrain, two player split screen action and some serious wipeouts. But that's not all! Acclaim Sports will even throw in a track editor to let you create and save your own tracks so you can fashion your own racing excitement. I know it all sounds too good to be true, and in the end it just may be a little too good to be true.

Gameplay

I am in one of my 'get right to the point' moods, so let me tell you exactly how I feel about this game right up front. I think that Jeremy McGrath Supercross 98 had all the potential in the world to be the next (first) great motocross racing game for the PSX. The options, levels and track designs are all there, but there are just a few things about it that keep it from greatness. I will say that there are some pretty cool innovations to be seen, but in the end you will find yourself feeling a bit disappointed. At least I did. So there you have it.

Without a doubt, the best thing about this game was the track editor. For those of you who do not know what a track editor is, let me explain. The track editor allows you to edit tracks (track editor...edit tracks...get it?). This means that if you do not like the seven tracks that are provided for you, go ahead and make your own courses. I think that you are going to start seeing this as a standard inclusion in racing games from here on out. Anyway, if you have any amount of creativity, you will really enjoy using this feature. This alone will keep you playing longer than you otherwise would have.

Speaking of tracks, that is one of the other bright spots of the game. I think the seven default tracks had a pretty decent design to them. There was a good combination of jumps, turns, hills, indoor racing and weather effects to keep things interesting. I think that it could have been really easy to overuse the weather or overdo the jumps, but I think there was just the right amount of everything on each track. Also, the tracks were filled with shortcuts that could help you gain that little bit of an advantage on the pack. The reason I say "could" is because a lot of the shortcuts were quite hazardous if you did not quite make the turn or if you overshot the path. A perfect example is a shortcut that cuts off a fairly significant portion of a corner that has you doing an almost 90 degree turn to get back on the path. If you don't make the turn, you will crash head first into the side of the barn, thus negating any sort of advantage you may have gained from taking the shortcut to begin with. I really thought this made things more challenging because I had to weigh the risks of trying the shortcuts versus the benefit. Sometimes it was better to just stay on the beaten path but if I had some ground to make up it was worth riding a bit more risky.

The game itself is has your standard single race mode and a championship mode but also includes a ghost rider mode that will let you compete against your best times. I found that like most racing games, I spent most of my racing time in the championship mode. Beating the championship mode with the 250 cc class bikes will enable a mirror track mode and I am currently 3/4 of the way through a championship with the 125cc bikes but I assume it will also open up some new mode or cheat. The championship mode is based on a point system and you will receive points for your finishing position in the race. It spans over eleven races and your points are cumulative. The best part about it was that the computer controlled racers were all competitive. Usually in racing games, you will have one computer controlled racer that kicks the crap out of the others and it winds up being a competition between you and that other racer. I found that there was a good mix when it came to the other racers and there was not one dominant computer controlled racer. This really made it much more enjoyable because I did not have to finish first every race and I actually cared who finished ahead of me and in what position.

The last thing that I really thought was cool about the game was that I had the ability to customize my bike before every race. There are three categories that can be changed: engine, tire grip and handling. This means that you really only have two bikes in the game but you can make the bike handle to your liking before every race. As with everything though, there are trade-offs. When I first played the game, I thought "crank everything up" and let's rip. I thought that it was stupid for the game to let me crank everything up because I were going to beat everybody, right? Well, you will quickly learn that this is not the case. The more you increase your speed the more you take away from your acceleration. Sure you may have good top end speed but it takes your bike forever to get to the speed. This forces you to adjust your bike to the conditions of the track you are racing on in that one particular race. Let's say that you are racing on a short track with lots of turns. It is much more important to have good acceleration because you will never have the opportunity to hit the top speed. Like I said, this kept me adjusting my bike between every race which I thought was quite cool.

You are probably sitting there, scratching your head, wondering why the game that has all of these options and sounds this great received a score of 74. It all comes down to one word: gameplay. It is not that this game was terrible in the gameplay department but it just was not up to par with what I was expecting. There were a couple of glaring weaknesses. The first of these was the whole physics/control issue of the bikes. They just did not really feel, for a lack of a better word, natural. It is not that the control was off or anything but my bike just felt like it was sliding around instead of driving. Also, when you would hit a corner, real motorcycles would have the back end slide around but in this game, it was like your entire bike had to turn. There were also a lot of times that I felt like I was bordering on out of control and not in a good way. I know that people are going to say that that is what motocross racing is all about but the feeling you get is not a reckless out of control because you want to be but more of a out of control because of the physics of your bike. It is really hard to explain but after playing a few games, it will be quite apparent what I am talking about.

The other thing that really bothered me about the game was that it was at times difficult to tell which direction the track was turning. I can't count the number of times that it looked like I was supposed to turn one direction and ended up in the wall instead. After learning the tracks you will remember which way to turn but I still thought this was weak. I mean, if I am going to lose the race, fine, but if I lose because I could not determine which direction I needed to turn, that just sucks. How many times in real life racing have you ever seen somebody racing along and turn the wrong way and later in the post race interview say that they thought that the track went that direction? It just does not happen (and if it did, that racer has problems). Anyway, the point is that this game tries to act as realistic as possible, but problems like this just cause it to shoot itself in the foot.

Graphics

Hmmm, I am not really sure what to say. On one hand, this game has some really cool details like the rain, snow and especially the exhaust that plumes out of the exhaust pipe when you hit the nitro button. Also while the bikes look like bikes, they don't quite match the detail as those in Moto Racer. On the other hand, you have the not so good looking crashes with the racer laying flat as a pancake and bent up. It actually reminded me of the outline sketch from a crime scene (don't ask me why). Also, the tracks were pretty fuzzy looking and the game just lacked the overall polish that it really needed. Even the dirt did not look that good and there were polygon seams popping up quite often. Also, I can only assume that my little problem with not being able to follow the direction of the turns was related to the graphics and the lack of detail.

Bottom Line

If the idea of making your own tracks appeals to you more than the idea of racing on them, then Jeremy McGrath Supercross 98 should satisfy your creative juices. If true physics, good handling and realistic racing are more your cup of tea, you may want to give this a rental first. This game has all the ingredients to be a great game, but just falls short. I hope that Acclaim Sports keeps with the series and improves the gameplay and graphics, because the rest of the package works. A valiant effort that just misses the mark.

reggie posted a review
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