Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000
The race is on for the best Supercross game and this month Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000 goes head to head with Excitebike 64. Jeremy McGrath is one of those games which harks back to the good old days of SNES racers. Now if you listen to Roy he'll tell you this is a good thing, but ask yourself this: could you cope with playing a game where the track turns more than the rider at the touch of the stick? At times it can make you feel like you're playing one of those really old racing games where the car just sat in one place all the time!
To begin with this does actually make the bikes handle really well. Jeremy McGrath is a lot more arcadey than EA's Supercross 2000, but for once this is a good thing. Where the EA biking game handled like it was stuck in the mud, this one could almost be walking on water (excuse me? - Roy). The problem comes when you realise that you can't make minor changes in your direction. This makes the handling of the game very jerky, unfortunately over-emphasising the fact that it's the track turning more than the rider! This becomes even more of a tragedy if you try to play the game with the camera fixed behind the rider. With the camera this low and your vision impaired it's easy to get disoriented and as a result you often find yourself riding into the walls!
However, fortunately there is a high camera angle which truly does save the game from becoming unplayable! In this old-style top-down view you can see far enough ahead to judge the corners and it's a big plus being able to figure out where your bike is on the track! The only slight drawback to this is that it makes the game a little too easy and speeding around the corners soon becomes second nature. After an hour of play in this view you'll be switching over to the Pro difficulty setting just for the challenge!
Another drawback to this above-and-behind view is that you don't get to appreciate the impressive draw distance and just how crisp the graphics are in this game. The lack of fogging and popup is impressive to say the least - you still get the odd bit of dodgy clipping here and there, but what game doesn't these days? What really lets the graphics down like a punctured tyre is just how bland and uninteresting the tracks are. It's all very well having crisp graphics but when there's nothing to look at then what's the point?
Like Excitebike (reviewed this issue) this game features both outdoor and indoor tracks for variety. But unlike the Nintendo teacher, this pupil doesn't bother to take advantage of it. All of the outdoor tracks quite literally look the same! At least in Excitebike you get to race through quarries, woods and along roads. In this game all you get is the same tree-lined backdrop on each track and the odd parked car to liven up the race! On a plus point though, the outdoor tracks do give the opportunity for some massive hills and jumps which you don't find on the indoor tracks.
If you're a fan of the sport of supercross, then you'll be pleased to hear that all eight of the indoor tracks are based on genuine circuits. Like the outdoor tracks, they still all look the same but at least you can pretend that you're racing around a real course! You also get all the officially licensed riders and their clothing. In addition to Jeremy McGrath, this includes the likes of Kevin Windham and Jimmy Button. If you're a devoted follower of the sport then no doubt these names strike awe and joy into your hearts... but we've never heard of them! And of course, just because the game's 'officially licensed' doesn't mean that it's any good! As well as all the tracks on offer in this game you can also create your own devious mud- spattered courses using the game's track editor. This is a nice touch but is a fairly short-lived thrill, as you can only create indoor tracks. What this means is that there's no opportunity for manufacturing over-the-top jumps and drops on a hilly outside track.
Instead you're stuck with set pieces and can only position them at 90 degree angles! You can only be so inventive with this many restrictions and as a result track design can get a little repetitive.
One thing this game does have to offer is top tunes - at least if you're into your Offspring anyway! Even if you're not, the audio suits the gameplay extremely well and gets the adrenaline pumping for the race at hand. You also get a note or two from the lesser known band Counterpoint, who won a competition to have their music featured in the game. At least there's something to distract you from the monotonous engine noise and limited commentary.
Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000 is more playable than Supercross 2000 but not up to the standard of Excitebike 64. This could've been a contender but if you're only going to buy one supercross game, then stick with Nintendo's.