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Superbike World Championship

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:

GAME DEVELOPER:Milestone

GAME PUBLISHER:Electronic Arts

Copyright 1999, Milestone

Superbike World Championship is a superb motorcycle racing game from Milestone, the company behind racing classics Screamer and Screamer 2 (back when they were called Graffiti). Since I’m hardly knowledgeable about motorsports and since I find the game far too challenging, I’ll defer to Mr. Bob Mandel of Adrenaline Vault, who had a lot of good things to say about the game. Here are some excerpts from his review:

“Originally scheduled for release by Virgin Interactive, this offering, developed by Milestone, is EA Sports’ first serious entry into the motorbike simulation arena. Its other motorcycle racer, Moto Racer 2, tries to cover every kind of motorcycle racing and in the process is outstanding in no single area. Superbike World Championship, on the other hand, concentrates completely on one type of bike racing and proves to be quite successful.

The most notable advance in Superbike World Championship over Castrol Honda Superbike World Champions is that EA Sports has managed, in its usual groundbreaking way, to secure a full Superbike World Championship license. This means instead of its predecessor’s replication only of the Castrol Honda team bike and its use of imaginary tracks, the new EA Sports offering authentically reproduces the complete set of 1998 bikers, tracks, teams and motorcycles. While to those unfamiliar with motorcycle competition this distinction may not seem all that significant, for real bikers (and I have a friend who is one who testifies to this) this element of realism makes all the difference in the world. This emphasis on authenticity goes well beyond using real people, machines and settings for the racing. The game includes the most accurate bike dynamics I have ever seen in virtual motorcycle racing, with direct assistance from Carl Fogarty, the 1998 world champion. The telemetry systems used in the game are courtesy of Ducati, one of the best motorcycle brands around. The rules of the competition incorporate the official points system and the use of flags (checkered, black, yellow and blue), just as in real life. In simulation mode, you get to determine the level of realism, adjusting such elements as accelerating, braking and speed aids, as well as engine failure and manual “sit-ups” when you apply the brakes.

The range of choice about who and where to race is comprehensive and the replay value is extraordinarily high. There are 12 tracks represented, including locations in Australia, San Marino, England, Germany, Italy, Austria, Holland, Spain, Japan, Indonesia and the United States. For the motorcycles, you get to select among the Ducati 916, Honda RC 45, Kawasaki ZX7R, Yamaha YZF and Suzuki GSXR. Moreover, you get to pick among 18 expert riders. In your racing, you can specify the number of laps and other riders when competing alone against computer-controlled opposition or in multiplayer mode against up to eight bikers over a LAN or the Internet. You have full control of gears, suspension and tires, including monitoring temperature, wear and compound choice. If you want to see how to improve your performance, the tuning of your vehicle can be guided by the telemetry systems or by scrutinizing the TV-style replay that allows you to examine the action from multiple camera angles.

One really nice dimension of Superbike World Championship is that it contains both action and simulation modes of gameplay. Although this product is clearly aimed at the simulation crowd, I am pleased there is at least a nod toward those who are more arcade-oriented. The major differences between the two modes are the far greater ability to customize settings in simulation mode and the greater skill required in keeping your bike on the track and ultimately winning while going at reasonably high speeds around curves. While true arcade racing fans will not find the action mode fully satisfying, it is much better than nothing.

Superbike World Championship is a real winner, setting a standard of excellence for motorcycle simulations that will be hard to match in the future. It is amazing how EA Sports could release a gem like this around the same time it published the disappointing NASCAR Revolution. While my own personal preference in motorcycle racing is still of the arcade variety (so I cling tenaciously to Redline Racer as my favorite in this category), I am quite impressed with Superbike World Championship. For motorcycle racing simulation aficionados, this is quite simply a dream come true.”



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