Electronic Arts released Superbike World
Championship last year, motorcycle racing fans were
the beneficiaries of an instant classic. Created
for EA by Italy-based developer Milestone, World
Championship was a true labor of love that set a
new high-water mark for motorcycle racing games.
Despite the sim's remarkable quality and gameplay
depth, it was received with deafening silence in
North America, where it managed to sell only a
paltry 7,700 copies. Hoping to reverse the game's
disastrous start, EA Sports and Milestone have
reinvented the two-wheel racing sim with Superbike
2000, the second chapter in this extraordinary bike
racing series. Featuring some of the most
incredible graphics of any racing game, an amazing
variety of options, and impressive AI, Superbike
2000 could be one of the best games on the track.
Unfortunately, it's hampered by some questionable
control, which takes the punch out of this
first glance, SBK 2000 is an absolute stunner.
Supporting resolutions as high as 1,280 by 1,024,
the game's Direct3D-enhanced track, bike, and rider
visuals are easily the most exquisite that I've
ever seen in a PC racer. Thirteen licensed
international circuits from the 1999 Superbike
season are featured in the game, and each of them
has been re-created in exhausting detail,
redefining photorealism. Enhanced with real-time
lighting, shading, and weather effects, venues such
as Laguna Seca, Monza, and Hockenheim are so
perfectly rendered in SBK 2000 that I felt I was
watching a high-definition television broadcast at
times. A feature-rich, VCR-style replay screen is
also included to let you review each race from a
number of different camera angles.
individual bike treatments are equally impressive.
Four 750cc machines from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki,
and Suzuki, as well as a 996cc Ducati and a 997cc
Aprilia have been faithfully and painstakingly
drawn right down to its fully animated suspension
movements. The riders are also gorgeously rendered.
Twenty real-world Superbike personalities appear in
SBK 2000, including reigning champ Carl Fogarty and
Americans Eric and Ben Bostrom. Every conceivable
rider movement, from hand throttle operation to
spectacular tumbling routines following wipeouts,
is beautifully choreographed and thoroughly
convincing. Motion-capture technology simply
doesn't get any better than this.
these impressive rider wipeouts are sights that you
will witness far too often if you crank up the
game's realism options too high. Perhaps in an
effort to provide more challenge with SBK 2000 than
was offered in the original sim (which, admittedly,
wasn't terribly difficult to beat), Milestone has
created a monstrously difficult riding model that
is a little too challenging. I found that with all
of the rider aids disabled, the bikes were all but
uncontrollable because of curiously unfriendly
physics that constantly conspired to yank the bike
out from underneath me.