Castrol Honda Superbike Racing
Get ready for some fast, precision motorcycle racing. From the minds at Electronic Arts comes Castrol Honda Superbike Racing. This racer brings to you a well-put-together, true-to-form simulation-style racing game that can try your patience and reward it equally should you manage to win the circuit.
This game appears to be designed with more of a simulation feel rather than an arcade-racing feel. In fact, if you are looking for an arcade racer, look elsewhere. The physics and handling of the bike feel fairly realistic which, of course, will make the game harder to get the hang of. Fortunately, there is a broad range of skill levels ranging from "I got training wheels" to "Wanna drag race the space shuttle?" and everything in between. There are many available settings including braking assist, steering assist, help arrows (for upcoming turns), tire wear, wheelies, and damage. Although the six pre-defined skill levels automatically set these for you, the lowest five allow you to tweak the settings to set how realistic (or unrealistic) you want the race, physics, and bike handling to be. The sixth (and hardest) setting makes you play a real no-rules bent race complete with penalties and potential disqualification with no adjustable options. The difficulty of your opponents is based on which skill level you choose. I found that the computer controlled riders tend to ride quite well at all difficulty levels so don’t get your heart set on lapping everyone on the easiest skill level. As well as the realism is handled in this game I found that all the riders, including my own, seem to be glued to their seats; even as I hit some walls (and bikes) hard enough to throw the rider, everyone managed to stay on their bikes. Mind you, it is quite possible to dismount, but it seems as if you have to hit something pretty hard before you will. Like many racing games these days, this one also allows you to set up gear ratios and tire settings for your bike. Unlike many racing games, you have the ability to save these settings for all tracks or each individual track, which is handy, assuming you like to do this type of thing.
There are fourteen tracks total to race around in either a training session, practice session, single race, or a complete championship. Again, the game’s "simulation" face comes into play, as this racing game does not show a map on-screen of the track while you’re racing (or anywhere else). It’s entirely up to you to determine the sharpness of the turn and how fast you should take it (assuming you don’t have braking or steering assist enabled). Fortunately, there are help arrows available that can point you in the right direction until you get used to a track. I found the learning curve for each track tended to be longer than other race games as I really had to find a good mix of throttle and braking to keep in the race. As you may have guessed by now, the controls are also not the easiest to get the hang of. This can be quite subjective based on what type of controller you have. For instance, I tried playing this with the original digital controllers and had an incredibly difficult time taking turns and juggling the throttle and brakes efficiently. I then used a dual analog shock controller and WOW, what a difference! With the analog controls, the bike responded exactly as I wanted it to (or as it should if I brake too hard or turn too fast). I particularly liked how the left stick turns the handlebars while the right stick acts as the throttle and brake. EA also did a real good job with the shock coming into play when riding off-road. I would very HIGHLY recommend using an analog controller with this game or you will likely be quite disappointed in the control. In addition to the standard controls, you can also change the viewpoint from several behind-the-bike points to a first-person view. The transmission can be either automatic or manual. An odd thing about this, even if the transmission is set to automatic, you still need to shift from neutral to first. What I found to be even odder is that these bikes have a reverse gear.
The general interface is pretty simple and self-explanatory. I did find it a bit odd, however, that in some places I needed to press X to continue and in other places I needed to press start. Still, following the screen instructions will get you where you want to be.
The graphics are quite nice. They are clean, crisp (or as crisp as a television will allow, anyway), and bright. There are lots of items on and around the track, such as trees, buildings, tire skids, and grandstands, which add to the racing excitement. I was particularly impressed by the photo-realistic backgrounds on each track. The lighting is also handled quite well. For instance, if you are riding behind a mountain or in a tunnel, it will be darker than if you’re out in broad daylight. Overall, the graphics are one of the high points in the game and truly add to the fun.
System Features Supported
This game supports both Dual Analog and Shock controllers. (I highly recommend using an analog controller with this game.)
There is nothing groundbreaking in this game, but what is here is done well and adds to the general gameplay. Overall this is a fun game that takes some time and patience to get the hang of and, when achieved, offers a true sense of accomplishment which is why I give Castrol Honda Superbike a score of 84.
Download Castrol Honda Superbike Racing
EA seems to be on a bit of a roll with motorcycle sports games these days, but it seems a bit odd that this one hasn't come under the EA Sports umbrella. Maybe if it had it could have turned out a little better, as it's something of a disappointment. Unusually for EA. this isn't one of those all-encompassing license products. When it says "Castrol-Honda" in the title--that really is all you're getting. The Honda team thrown into a simulation of the motorcycle championship circuit--only without any "real" tracks or any other "real" bikes or riders. Unusual for a PlayStation game, CHSR is very much tackling the "simulation" end of the racing market. It's a pretty tough game to control if you turn all the driver-aids off, and in many ways it reminds me a little of the original Geoff Crammond F1 GP game on the PC in its attitude toward the sport. Unfortunately, though, the game is let down by some bad presentation. The frame-rate is intrusively slow and choppy, and there are lots of nasty little glitches throughout. Much like Moncao Grand Prix, it also suffers from its lack of a license. If you're ana! enough about the sport to want a simulation rather than an arcade game like Moto Racer 2, the lack of real bikes is a letdown. The fact that you can't ride anything except the Hondas seems a bit too restricting.
Why would EA put this out when their own Moto Racer 2 blows it away? Perhaps $$$? I think so. CHSR isn't bad, but an average frame-rate and mediocre graphics and Al makes for an altogether mundane racing experience. One licensed bike does not make a sim. If you're into real bikes you should wait for Supercross 2000, cause it'll be packed with 'em. In the meantime stick with Road Rash 3D or Moto Racer 2 for cycle fun.
The racers this month had some real highs and lows. Castroi-Honda Superbike Racing is missing three crucial elements which usually make or break a good motorcycle racer: a sense of control, speed and bone-crushing wipeouts. The graphics are below-average and the frame-rate for split-screen play has noticeable slowdown. I wanted to scrape my knee while taking a corner and hang by the seat of my pants. Alas, it didn't happen here.
I don't mind Superbike Racing's controls all that much (some of the other guys were complaining about them). My problems with the game are that A) the frame-rate is choppy as all heck, B) in general, the graphics suck, and C) it's just not fun to play. Sim-oriented or not, nobody is going to play the game if it's not fun. And since I don't care about the sim stuff anyway, I'd much, much rather play Moto Racer or Road Rash 3D. I say pass.