Suzuki Alstare Extreme Racing
|a game by||Criterion Software Group Ltd.|
|Platforms:||Dreamcast, PC, GameBoy Color|
|Editor Rating:||6.3/10, based on 2 reviews, 4 reviews are shown|
|User Rating:||6.8/10 - 10 votes|
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|See also:||Bike Games, Motocross Games|
There's a good chance cycle fans will buy Suzuki Alstare (pronounced ol-star-ay) out of simple curiosity, seeing as how it's the first game of its kind for the DC.
What are they in for? It's not a serious sim--Alstare is pure arcade right down to its sandy beach tracks and tron-like bikes. While it does contain a couple real bikes (Suzuki GSX R6oo, R750) they're not exactly the main draw. A silky-smooth frame-rate (60 fps) and high graphic detail take that honor.
Not since Moto-Racer have we seen such speed in a motorcycle racing game. The cool part is, the backgrounds keep up with minimal draw-in. It's exciting to see that kind of detail moving so fluidly.
Most of the 12 tracks are speed-friendly and fortified with lots of sweeping curves and rolling hills, not unlike those found in Moto-Racer 2. A few non-traditional courses feature dirt roads, beaches and even snow. The decision to include these rally-type offerings in a motorcycle game is a bit weird. But you must remember, Suzuki Alstare Extreme Racing is all about the arcade experience not to mention "extreme." (said sarcastically.)
The gameplay is very forgiving. Smackin' other bikes during a race won't cause a wreck. More than likely the rebound will shoot you halfway up an embankment...then you'll wreck. Hitting the pavement is quite an interesting spectacle (see sidebar). At the point of impact the camera stops moving but the rider doesn't. Depending on the severity of the crash, he'll do a quick roll or launch into the hemisphere. It's an entertaining way to show a wreck.
For the most part, the controls are simple--ease off the gas in the turns or tap the brake to slow down. That's about the extent of it. The tricky part is keeping the bike in a good racing line. Oversteering results in the typical side-to-side stuff that eventually results in a mishap. Just the same, it'd be nice if the bikes were more responsive, they feel a bit stiff, especially for the twisty stuff. Hopefully that can be fixed before final product.
Thankfully two-player is operational and moves along just as well as single-player. Unfortunately no plans for Internet play have been announced. That's too bad--this would be a great game to use it. As a simply arcade racer with loads of graphic appeal, Suzuki Alstare is right on track.
Download Suzuki Alstare Extreme Racing
Bike games and the PC have never really hit it off, and SuzukiAlstare Extreme Racing ms never going to reverse that trend. However, it is pretty intense as the brakes are made pretty much redundant by the fact that you can hurtle round each circuit at virtually full throttle.
As an arcade racer, it just about hits the mark, in that it's totally mindless and requires little skill other than basic hand/eye coordination. The controls are pretty easy to pick up, but it's highly likely you'll grow bored of Suzuki in less time than it takes to uninstall it from your hard drive.
From the same developer and publisher that brought us the long-forgotten Redline Racer, this is essentially that game with a bit of a facelift and a pointless licence tagged on. As such, it's a wholly arcade-oriented affair, with superbikes comfortably traversing sand and snow, as well as more standard asphalt-based surfaces. Such trivialities as braking for corners are largely bypassed, and the action is sometimes impossibly fast, with the generically realised scenery flashing past in the blink of an eye. Come off, and you're tossed around like the proverbial rag doll.
Apart from having a pretty stupid name, SuzukiAlstare Extreme Racing adds very little to the bike genre, or indeed to the human race, for that matter. That said, as a wholly unambitious racer, it achieves its goal comfortably. At best, it's a mildly bearable way of spending an afternoon when Wimbledon's on the telly and there's nothing better to do.
To me this feels more like a fantasy racer than an ordinary sim-like Moto Racer or Castrol Honda Superbike. The motorcycles look tron-like and don't handle like the real thing. On top of that, several of the courses are on dirt and sand? The game has an identity complex of sorts. On the other hand, if you accept it as an arcade offering - all is forgiven. On the road the bikes handle OK if not a little too rigid, especially on the twisty stuff. Luckily touching other bikes or walls doesn't knock you over. One bad thing, the cycles look foreign to the environment. In other words, they appear to float in the foreground just above the track. This effect is more evident on the dirt courses where it doesn't make sense for superbikes to race anyway. Graphically the game looks great in almost every regard--the shading, lighting effects, vivid colors, etc. It moves fast and smooth as well. It may not do the claimed 60 frames per second but it's more than adequate. Overall, I'm not super excited about Alstare. Two-player contests are decent, as are some of the single-player on-road courses. But, in light of the stiff handling and unrealistic bikes I can't recommend this to hardcore racing fans. For a simple arcade romp it's not bad. The forgiving gameplay and easy controls make it a natural for casual fans.
This doesn't really work. Even if you didn't know that this was a license that had been hastily grafted onto a completely inappropriate game, it wouldn't take you long to work it out. The mix of 'real' and fantasy stuff doesn't work, and the environments aren't suited to the kinds of bikes that you're supposed to be racing. Graphically it's OK, but nothing special, and the controls feel really awkward and badly implemented. Wait for a better racer on DC.
Like most Dreamcast games, Suzuki Alstare looks great, but the gameplay's a little lacking. The physics model doesn't seem quite up to par with previous motorcycling games. Especially in two-player, the game looks very plain, with scenery streaming in and popping up as if it's being built up in front of you by tiny construction crews. Tunnels you'll see the end of will get longer, etc. Straightforward cycle racing, but missing something.
Suzuki Alstare could have been a really excellent game. It's not bad...no, but it's just a little dry. The game's engine is fantastic and solid. Be prepared for breathtaking scenery force-fed to you at a relentless 60 fps. And you certainly can't fault the game for its controls either--they're hyper-responsive to the point of being somewhat sensitive. I just wish the game had more depth than just a point-your-bike-in-the-right direction-and-gas-it mentality. Rental!