VMX Racing

a game by Playmates
Genre: Sports
Platforms: Playstation PSX
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 3 reviews
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See also: Car Racing Games

Sega's Manx TT aside, motorcycle racing games rarely get their 15 minutes of fame, usually because of a lack of interest or lack of substance.

Which makes all the more amazing the debut of VMX Racing, when an early demo of the polygon-based game resulted in offers from other companies-including one competitor-interested in securing the rights to this title.

After glimpsing a preview of this game, it's not hard to understand why. The game's programmers completely rewrote the PlayStation's libraries to forge a sleeker, beefier 3-D graphics engine that can draw up to eight complex polygon motorcyclists plus hilly terrain with no hint of slowdown.

Plus, the game has a zooming feature to place you close or far from the biker. The graphics details catch nuances as subtle as the shock absorber spring and recoil on bumpy roads. The developers even got the help of a bike racing team to ensure the animation looked accurate.

If that doesn't sound impressive, then consider the game's two-player mode: a splitscreen view (horizontal or vertical) that renders up to 16 cyclists and two half-screen terrains simultaneously.

The game has four bikers for players to choose from, each with his own story line and ending. In addition, the bikers have special moves-some secret, some too wild to imag-ine-that can be pulled off once they catch air such as a tabletop (when a biker shifts his bike to make it parallel to the ground). The bikes them-selves can be customized to suit a cyclist's needs.

The game starts off with eight tracks to pick from and several race circuits to choose from. Each race begins and ends with special prerendered cinemas depending on the track and how well a player finishes.

In addition, the developers hint at loads of secret areas, hidden tracks and other easter eggs rarely found in most racing games.

  • MANUFACTURER - Playmates
  • THEME - Sport
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2

Game Reviews

With dirt and mud flying everywhere, VMX Racing wipes out on the PlayStation as just another bland motocross game that takes you on a bumpy ride without the thrills. Because the game's six tracks and four bikes look and feel the same, VMX quickly grows repetitive. The graphics don't help either as the opponents look choppy and coarse, while the background scenery's an eyesore. Adding to the game's maladies, VMX is best played with the sound off because of the monotone engine noise and one-track music. Sadly, VMX's only real plus is the control; it's easy and basic without the fuss of power slides or braking techniques.

Don't get stuck in the mud playing this game. Training wheels or not, VMX Racing won't give you the ride of your life.

ProTips:

  • Pass your opponents more quickly by avoiding jumps that give big air.
  • On turns, use the blast instead of the brakes to get ahead of the pack.

Overview

It's about time someone made a motocross racing game for the Playstation. Looking at the box of VMX Racing, you will definitely get sucked in. The cover is cool and the back mentions features like "Ultra realistic gameplay that incorporates actual motocross dynamics" and "Eight different bikes fight it out in every race. Chose from six different tracks and try and qualify for three bonus tracks." That sounds like a game I want to play. Not only do I have a new motocross game, it is going to kick ass! Well...

With the popularity of every other type of racing, I am surprised it took somebody this long to bring a motocross racer to the market. It has finally arrived -- but you may end up wishing it hadn't.

Gameplay

Nearly nine months ago, I received an unfinished version of VMX Racing. Even though the game wasn't yet in its final version, it was playable. My main complaint was the fact that it was too easy to crash. That, and when you did crash, you got the same rolling-over-the-handlebars animation. I figured that this was because the game was through its development cycle and the problem would be corrected in the final release. I guess I was wrong.

When you pop the game in, you are treated to an awesome FMV sequence of some serious motor cross action. Alright! Things are looking good. Once you get into the game options and select your track, it's "moto time." Now, you are treated with another FMV sequence of the bikes pulling up to the gate. This looked equally as impressive as the intro. And, to top it all off, you have some kicking music to go with it. This is going to rock! Then the game starts.

The first thing you are introduced to in this game is the revving sound of your bike. I knew something was wrong when this didn't sound right. The gate drops and you are off, at least until the first corner. If you don't make the corner, you will be sent tumbling head over handlebars with the announcer annoyingly yelling "WipeOut!"

Now let's talk about that for a minute. You are on a motorcycle. Not just any motorcycle, but a motor cross motorcycle. The whole idea behind this type of bike is to take them off road and get dirty. If this is true, please answer me one question: should grass make you flip over the handlebars? If you even so much as clip a corner and hit the grass, you are into that roll, which, by the way, is the same roll as the preview copy and still the only crash animation in the game. The worst part about it was that the developers put corners, with grass, that were begging to be cut. I could not help myself. Even I, who am not a big follower of this sport, know that a majority of the passing takes place by someone cutting corners tight. It is impossible to use this type of strategy in this game.

There were also a couple of other things I didn't quite understand. First, one of your buttons was labeled oversteer/blast (burst of speed). I will say that it did help you around tight corners -- so the oversteer part is accurate. What I did not understand was the burst part. You could have your bike maxed out on a straight away and hit this button. What happens? The tone of you engine changes an octave and that is it -- your speedometer shows no change. If you were going 63 MPH when you hit the button, you will still be going 63 MPH after. I don't get it.

The other thing I did not understand was the classes of bikes. You could chose from a 125cc or a 250cc. According to the manual, the 125cc's are more agile, but lack power. The 250cc jumps higher but are more difficult to maneuver. To tell you the truth, I did not see a difference at all. A 250 should be twice the bike. Your top speed should be at least 10-15 MPH higher. Well, in the VMX Racing world, this is not the case. The 125's and 250's go the same speed. I don't get that either.

Okay, I will admit I have been a bit critical of this game. I also want to say that it is not all bad. Once you get the hang of it and understand the "ground" rules, like avoiding grass, it is pretty fun to rip around the tracks. The best tracks to keep you out of trouble are the tracks that are built in stadiums (New Orleans and Anaheim). These tracks have guards up that mark the track and also seem to help keep you from crashing. For some reason, if you're on an indoor track, you can go flying over a jump and land off the track without a crash. But if you touch that blade of grass on an outdoor track... Wipeout! Anyway, the tracks all have a fair amount of action and some huge jumps that are pretty cool.

Another neat little addition to the game was the points system. When you race the circuit (all tracks), you receive points not just for your finishing position but also for tricks. If you whip out some kick ass moves over the jumps, you will be awarded points. These points are tallied and added to your race points to give you a total score. This point system helped keep the races fun.

Graphics

The graphics were pretty average. There was nothing that really stood out, aside from the FMV sequences, and there was nothing that really hurt either. The other riders looked pretty cool especially when they were flying over your head off of a jump. I did have some difficulty locating turns and would end up flipping over my handlebars, since that is the only crash animation.

Bottom Line

VMX Racing is another game that will end up in the "potential pile:" the game had such potential, but just could not live up to its expectations. It is really too bad because this type of game is sorely needed for PSX, and Playmates Interactive Entertainment had a chance to dominate this type of racing game since they had no competition.

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Playstation Screenshots

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