Review: It's like Easy Rider with sticks!
This next-generation version of the Genesis classic really doesn't add a whole lot of depth to the original, but is that really a bad thing? This update still retains all of the mindless head bashing that made the original a great party game while making it possible to pummel up to THREE of your friends at a time! You know what that means? That's right! This game is a great rental, but there's not a lot of need to rush out and buy it.
The entire premise of the game is that you race motorcycles in races where anything goes. The problem with this is that it isn't incredibly deep. Pacific Coast Power & Light Co. did put a good effort into it though. They threw in enough bikes and riders to satisfy just about any look that you might want to achieve, a healthy assortment of weapons to keep things interesting from race to race, and you have to admit that keeping cops in the fray provides ample opportunity to commit major felonies. The thing that really seemed to be missing though, was the competition. Each time that you fall down (hit a building, drive off a cliff...) you get started again right near the pack, which keeps you in the race, but in return, keeps your opponent in the race. I couldn't tell you how many times I went into the final stretch of a race having crashed the other racers repeatedly, not crashed at all myself, and still lost. Alternately, there were several occasions where I hit every light post along the road but still wound up winning. The whole thing almost felt arbitrary.
The controls of the game are easy to learn, but never really provide much variety. In the early levels, each of the bikes available seem to react exactly the same even though they have different statistics. Differences between the bikes do start to appear in the later levels, but never really become anything to base bike purchases on. (Personally, I always went with the choppers over the crotch-rockets.) One thing that I do think was done really well was how the surface plays into how the bike handles. If you leave the road, you'll find that your tires get nowhere near the traction on dirt and grass that they did on the asphalt. As far as combat goes, it hasn't really changed from the original. One button kicks, one button changes weapons, one button whacks, zaps, sprays, and punches... Really, you just get close and mash buttons.
The sound effects for the game are pretty generic, but the soundtrack really takes flight. With a couple of tracks by Sugar Ray (not the sissy songs of theirs you heard on the radio, but their good, harder stuff) and one by the Mermen, the game really manages to encourage the party mood that it excels in.
This game isn't breaking any ground in the graphics department. The landscape is kind of plain, as are the buildings, the bikes, and the riders. The developers sacrificed in this area in order to increase the numbers of riders in each race. In all honesty, I think that keeping the number of riders up made the game much more fun than capturing lifelike visuals would have. One thing that I may never understand though, is how those crazy two-dimensional cows are so tough. I mean, they're paper thin for crying out loud. You'd think that a motorcycle doing 180mph would do something to it, but nooooooo, it just moos while you get tossed thirty feet into the air. At least the 2-D pedestrians buckle (I'm such a bad, bad, man).