As bike games go, Superbike World Championship was one of the best - ably recreating the experience of tearing around a track at breakneck speed with your knee grazing the tarmac.
No strangers to sequels (or games ending in 2000), the inevitable Superbike 2000 will be with us in the new millennium. Claiming to offer the most faithfully modelled bikes, physics, riders and tracks ever seen, Superbike 2000 will also take motorcycle racing online with a new Internet racing option.
Chuck in some two-player splitscreen racing and it looks like being thrills and spills for all the family, either at home or hundreds of miles away.
The game also brags new TV-style presentation, with race commentary from TV's Keith Hue wen (who?) and has been updated for the 1999 SBK Superbike World Championship Season. With motion captured riders and additional weather effects, expect it to rock big bells.
Download Superbike 2000
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
While many people extol the virtues of motorcycling, there are in fact just two things you need to know: first, there's no cigarette lighter, and second, you fall over when you stop. For the undeterred, there are also innumerable risks. Should the rider fall off at speed, he or she will slide along the road surface and vanish into the scenery at a fair rate of knots - this happens quite a bit, so if you hear muffled cries for an ambulance coming from a gooseberry bush, don't worry, it's only a motorcyclist.
Because of such dangers, riders have to wear a bulbous metal hat with a visor. If you open the visor, your mouth fills up with wasps and your eyes vibrate. If you close it, the wasps can't get out and you have to swallow them. On a hot day, your head feels like it's melting, and on a cold day, your nose dribbles like Niagra Falls and you can't get a hanky close enough to wipe it.
So hey, kids, be smart and play safe - do what your mum's been asking for these past few years. Hang up your helmets, tidy your bedroom and plonk yourself down in front of EA Sport's Superbike 2000, the eagerly awaited follow-up to Superbike World Championship. It's the sensible alternative to biking.
Four Strokes To Heaven
Italian developer Milestone has once again produced a slick looking bike game. All the top names are present, including Ducati, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha and Aprilia, as are all the sponsors, thanks to an exclusive SBK Superbike World Championship license. While some of you may balk at the sheer number of motifs and banners stuck everywhere from bikes to safety barriers, it actually makes everything look a whole lot more 'TV like'. Couple this with a commentary from Keith Huewen of Sky Sports and you'll begin to think you're really there.
The game features quick race, single race and championship modes, and introduces splitscreen and online multiplayer options. So if you fancy a quick scratch round Donington with another wannabe Fogarty, hook up to your ISP and ride with up to eight other Internet opponents or 24 computer opponents on any of the 13 accurately modelled tracks. As with the previous Instalment, the AI players can often be a little too resolute with their racing line, budging only when you poke a broom handle in their spokes. But that could be because they're concentrating on not falling off, or busy wondering how they're going to wipe their noses.
As before, there's a baffling array of bike setup options, ranging from the rebound damping on your front and rear shocks, to the rake and trail of your steering geometry. These seem to have little effect on the way the bike handles (we still fell off), and are probably only there to please the inveterate fiddlers among you. Some things are best left set to 'automatic' if you ask us - the transmission on a race bike is one of them.
It's A Vespa
Out on the track, the machines feel the same as in every other bike racing title we've ever tested - precarious. Unlike car games, the 'driver's eye' camera leans round the bends with you, making you feel unbearably queasy, and the 'chasecam' only serves to exacerbate the feeling of detachment.
There's also little sensation of speed - a disappointment, really, considering the average road bike has a power to weight ratio that makes a McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom feel like a London taxi. Sounds aren't up to scratch either. Most driving games proclaim that they feature 'real sampled audio', and they probably do - the real sampled audio of a Lambretta scooter. Come on. In real life, bikes have a gorgeous burble at idle, especially the Ducati. The sound changes as you accelerate, growing to encompass induction roar and a mad banshee like howl at 11,000 rpm.
One day, someone will produce a game that manages to accurately reproduce the racket of race day - the creamy bass of a TVR, the spine-tingling shriek of a Ferrari - but until that day comes, you'll have to put up with an irate bluebottle trapped inside your speakers.
Ah, Yes, The Score
Underneath the glossy paint and sponsor's logos, Superbike 2000 is still a motorcycle game. Which means that, despite the visual razzmatazz, you have to use accelerator help, brake help, extra brake power, automatic brake, auto rider movement, rider assist and automatic gears before your bucking motor-donkey even begins to feel vaguely obedient. And while the vast array of rider aids do make the game quite playable, they also anaesthetise the experience. All you need is a lone finger planted on the throttle and, together with the occasional dab at the left and right cursor keys, even your computer-phobic dad could wobble his way round the Nurburgring and stay out of the kitty litter.
Try the same circuit without rider aids and you spend the whole time alternating between massive wheelies, cannoning off other riders and tipping gravel out of your helmet. Like every other title in the genre, there seems to be no middle ground: you're either so unable to fall off it feels like you've got stabilisers, or you're pulling your head from between tyres on the tyre wall. Or possibly both. To its credit, Milestone does allow users to tweak the level of rider aids, for example allowing you to specify 50 per cent extra brake power instead of the full 200 per cent, but there's still a fine line between a playable setup and a farcical one.
And you know what? It's a darn shame. The graphics are some of the most realistic we've ever seen (rider animation is nothing short of staggering), the interface and presentation are up to EA's usual high standards, and there are more multiplayer options and Internet shenanigans than you can shake a phone bill at. But while we veered from verge to verge, fingers crossed we'd stay planted in the saddle, our one recurring thought was: 'wouldn't this make a great car game?' Wouldn't it be good if we were at the wheel of a Honda NSX and not hunched over a Honda RC45?
So we feel that a message needs to be sent to the developer community. Please, folks, please. Stop making motorcycle games. They just don't cut it.
A Biker Babbles
Wandy explains his love of bikes and his hatred of bike games
Had you been looking over my shoulder as I struggled round Monza, cursing every approaching bend and demanding a replacement Ferrari, chances are you'd think motorcycles were a pet hate. Not at all -1 have the appropriate license and my very own plastic suicide rocket in the garage. It's just that bike games don't work.
When I first sat down in front of Superkike 2000, my initial thought was that I was doing something wrong, or I was being a dufus. But then I remembered this was the way every bike game played, and looking back through past issues it's clear that other people feel the same way. Car games make an easy transition from circuit to screen; motorcycle games don't They never have and they never will. Why? Because you can easily reproduce a race car cockpit in your own front room - seat, steering wheel, pedals, gear shift, the whole shootin' match. A bike, on the other hand, is so much more than a set of controls. You don't push or pull anything to steer It, you shift your weight. You perform some actions subconsciously, such as counter steer and counter balance. You brake independently front and rear, and change gear using your foot and your left hand to engage the clutch.
Totally involving, and at the same time rather alarming. So there will never be a good bike sim, In the same way there will never be a decent eating sim. While the simple mechanics can easily be reproduced with dabs at the keyboard or tugs on the joystick, there's a lot more to it than simple movements. Stuff that you simply can't get across using a standard PC.
Do you ever have the desire to turn your whole entire body into a piece of road rash? Does crashing into a hay bail at 90 mph get you all excited? Do you crave going so fast your eyelids peel back from the force? If you answered yes to even one of those questions, strap on your motorcycle helmet -- it's time to review Superbike 2000. I had the opportunity to review last year's Superbike game from EA Sports, so I was chomping at the bit to play this one. For the first time street racer, let me give you a rundown on what the game is. SB2000 is racing simulation game that lets you steer some of the fastest street motorcycles in the world. You get to race on 13 real life tracks taken from the 1999 racing circuit. What makes SB2000 so fun is the ability to make the game a real as you desire. If you wish to see what an actual race weekend is like you can set it up so you start racing on Friday and end on Sunday. If you are more into quick races, you can set it up so you skip all the hoopla and just race without qualifying. For the mechanic in your family there is the option of tinkering with your bike. Be forewarned though, tinkering can become addictive! Last but not least is the Internet option of play, which lets you test your riding skills with other people. I never tried online play for the mere fact that I was barely able to make my way around the track against computer opponents with the difficulty set to easy.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
I've got two words for you: Extreme Simulation! SB2000 is the most realistic motorcycle racing game I have ever seen. You can spend hours just tinkering with your bike setup -- everything from gears to shocks can be adjusted. This isn’t the type of game where after a few times of playing you beat everyone. You will find it takes quite a bit of actual riding time to get very good at all. Which brings me to the one down side that really bugged me. Last year's version of Superbike had an option that allowed you to turn on hoops, which were then put in place around the track so you could learn the line of the track. Unfortunately, they did not include this option in SB2000, but there are tons of other options that will help out the first time rider so he or she doesn’t get turned into ground hamburger too fast. I found the overall gaming experience to be serious but fun at the same time. SB2000 might not go over very well with the arcade style of racing gamers but they should at least give it a try just for the awesome graphics alone.
I had a pretty set mission when it came time to reviewing the graphics for SB2000. I asked myself, "Are the graphics better or worse compared to last year's Superbike?" Well, I’m pleased to note that the graphics are even better this time around. Don’t get me wrong though, most of the changes are pretty small, so it still has the same feel as the last Superbike. They have added sun glare to the screen now, which can be downright maddening at times. The actual motorcycles themselves look much crisper and more defined. One thing I found neat this time around was the fact that when I drove off-track my tires picked up sand or grass depending on what surface I was driving on. As for the graphics of the racetracks, I found them to be pretty much the same in quality as last years Superbike. I found it very easy to immerse myself into SB2000 because of the degree of realism in the graphics. If you’re a street bike racing fan, you will love the graphics. Enough said!
I love it when audio comes together nicely with the entire game. The audio in SB2000 definitely fits the bill, working hand in hand with the rest of the game. You will really love the audio when it comes to race day because EA Sports picked a real life announcer for the game, which adds so much to its authenticity. Your heart will be pumping after you hear him announce your name at the starting line. Bike sounds are as realistic as ever and same goes with the crowd noises. All in all, a pretty kick-butt job.
Win 95/98, 233 MHz or faster processor, 32 MB RAM, 300MB free hard disk space, 4X CDROM, High Color capable 2MB PCI or AGP video card, DirectX 7 compatible sound card, and 56Kbps modem for Internet play.
At first glance I was a bit disappointed with SB2000. I was expecting eye-popping change to be evident and was let down when that wasn’t the case. But then after a week of steady playing I really began to notice the subtle changes made to the graphics, audio, and the options section regarding track setup. The more I played the more I liked it and can now stand before you and say that EA Sports did a great job with SB2000. I won’t lie to you though and tell you that this is an easy game to learn because it is not. You will find yourself spending a lot more time learning to ride and take corners in SB2000 than any other motorcycle racing sim out there. But you will also find it is darned gratifying once you have mastered the handling of the bike and you turn in the perfect lap. On that note I will give SB2000 a score of 90/100. The score would have been higher if the training hoops had been left in the game and if there were a few more tracks.