AMA Superbike by Motorsims is the latest entry into the burgeoning racing games market and, although it is but one of many new titles in both bike and auto racing, it stands out for a couple of reasons. Whether these features are a positive or a negative will vary widely however based on your level of patience and your desire for detail in a game/simulation.
As the name of AMA Superbike's creator suggests, this is a sim through and through. Some considerations have been made as a nod to arcade gamers, but by and large AMA Superbike sets out to recreate the experience of riding one of the most finely tuned, highly charged racing vehicles on the planet.
Superbike largely succeeds in this aspect, although their success is at times very frustrating to a player such as myself who really wants more to experience a high speed, not-so-realistic romp around the track. If you are like me, you will spend a lot more time looking at the walls, trees, grandstands, etc. than zooming around the track. Racing a Superbike, it turns out, is pretty tough and AMA Superbike gets that point across again and again. Personally, I got very little enjoyment out of crashing every five seconds. Had this sim/game had a more forgiving novice/arcade mode, I think it would be a title I could recommend to a much broader segment of the gaming population; as it is, I would say that unless you are truly a hard-core sim fan and/or already a proficient motorcycle racer in real life, I would steer clear of this title -- it is weighted far too heavily on the realism side to be much fun for most players.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
I played AMA Superbike with a keyboard, gamepad, and joystick, and I would have to say that the joystick worked best in terms of being able to actually make it around the track, however the gamepad worked best for (attempting) fast corners, jumps, etc. The controls are relatively straightforward, much like any other racing title, with accelerator, brakes, and steering taking up the X and Y axis on your controller. The most difficult (and important) aspect of control in Superbike is the ability to stand up/sit back on your bike to speed or slow yourself as you try to navigate the surprisingly unforgiving tracks. This takes some practice and, while I got pretty good at it after a while, tends to detract from the otherwise very good sense of speed you get in this game.
While the game box and manual tout the amazing 3dfx features of AMA Superbike, I was wholly unimpressed with the level of graphical sophistication in this title. It is clear that the designers of this game made a decision to go for frame rate and the perceived speed that this creates over the finer details of the environment.
While this decision makes for better adrenaline as a racer, it gives the overall package a flatter, less interesting look than a game like the later Need for Speed titles. I am honestly not sure why the engine for this game couldn't have accommodated more detail, but if you are used to action titles like Half-Life or Unreal, AMA Superbike will certainly seem rather sparse and uninteresting to look at when compared to the lush video features that I think most gamers have come to expect these days.
One thing I will say for the gang at Motorsims, they did do a very nice job with spatial sound and ambient track/motor noise. That may seem like a small thing, but it's actually a strong point in any racing game to be able to perceive how close a competitor is by the sound of his engine. Unfortunately, if you're like me, you'll spend more time on your back alongside the wall thinking about how nice all those other bikes zooming by sound...
Pentium II 266 Mhz processor or better, 32 Mb RAM, 3D accelerator, joystick (most gamepads will work as well), sound card, 28.8 internet connection (for online racing), Windows 95/98, and DirectX 6.1.
AMA Superbike is a quality, accurate sim. It's not a game and if you buy it expecting a game you will be disappointed. I for one did not care for Superbike, as I felt it was a very one-dimensional offering that was clearly not geared for the mass gaming market, yet was being sold alongside Road Rash and Need for Speed. It is nonetheless a highly-competent simulation and one which niche fans will certainly enjoy for its unswerving realism and commitment to the realistic physics involved in bike racing. I rate it a 70 as a game -- it is simply aimed at far too narrow and audience and does not make the most of current graphical technology to really stand out.
Download AMA Superbike
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP