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Featured Review

Introduction

One could make a case that Acclaim's Jeremy McGrath Supercross '98 helped bring dirt bike racing to the forefront of video games again when it was released for PlayStation in 1998. After its tremendous success, Acclaim decided to bring a 2000 version to the Nintendo 64. When comparing Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000 to its main competitor, EA Sports' Supercross 2000, it becomes apparent that each game has its own strengths and weaknessesŚone noticeably more so than the other. But it also proves that dirt bike racing games have a long way to go on the system.

Gameplay & Control

An advantage Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000 has over its main competitor is that it includes both official Supercross tracks and official Motocross tracks. The eight indoor Supercross tracks are Tempe, Houston, Seattle, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Dallas. The eight outdoor Motocross tracks are Glen Helen, Motocross 338, Steel City, Washougal, Spring Creek, Red Bud, Budds Creek, and Broome-Tioga. A selection of eight Supercross and Motocross riders is included, too: Jeremy McGrath, John Dowd, Travis Pastrana, Jimmy Button, Kevin Windham, Sebastien Tortelli, Nathan Ramsey, and Greg Albertyn.

The default control scheme lets you use the Control Stick or Control Pad. From there, the A button accelerates, the B button is rear brake, and the Bottom C button is front brake. Moreover, the Left C button looks back, the Right C button changes the camera view, and the L/Z buttons shift gears. Finally, by holding down the R button and using different directional movements or pressing other buttons while in the air, you'll pull off different stunt tricks.

Like other Acclaim games, you can toggle many options in Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000. You can change the controller configuration, including steering looseness and tightness. You can increase or decrease individual audio levels. You can turn on-screen indicators on or off individually for all four players. You can toggle laps to race, difficulty, and weather. Finally, you can tweak your bike (either 125cc or 250cc) before each race. Bike-tweaking options include the ability to adjust your engine's powerband to get the desired HP/RPM ratio, the ability to make your suspension firmer or softer, and the ability to switch your tires among hard pack, intermediate, and sand/mud. You also can pick manual or automatic transmission.

Several different gameplay modes reside within Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000. You can choose Race, Series, or Time Trials for standard racing. A Freestyle mode is available for freewheelin' fun. Two other intriguing modes are available, too: Custom Rider and Track Editor.

Race is a single race mode for one to four players. In the one- and two-player modes, you can race among a pack of eight total riders. For the two-player mode, the screen is split vertically, not horizontally. The three-player mode isn't too bad, but things start to slow noticeably with four players. As expected, there aren't any CPU riders in the three-/four-player modes.

In the Series mode, you can race an Indoor Supercross series, an Outdoor Nationals circuit, a combined series, or a custom circuit. You get points for the place you finish, so the goal is to get the most points overall. The challenge level isn't high enough, however.

Actual racing in Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000 isn't as realistic as in Supercross 2000 because of suspect rider physics and lacking computer intelligence. You still get fairly accurate tracks with whoops, hills, and jumps, but you basically just have to hold the accelerator and steer. Barriers, including invisible ones, keep you on the track and don't make you crash unless you really mess up. Sometimes, however, you'll get stuck on these edges. Strangely, the overall speed and feel of racing makes the game somewhat fun in this department if you don't mind a little more arcade than simulation in your racing stew.

The Freestyle mode in Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000 is a far cry from Supercross 2000, however. It isn't as intuitive to pull off stunts, coupled with the fact that there are far fewer tricks, making the mode a bore.

In keeping with an Acclaim tradition of late, you can create your own riders and your own tracks. When creating your own rider, you can specify a name, a bike number, an outfit, and a specific bike. When you create your own track, you can lay offsets, jumps, bumps, whoops, berms, and more. The Track Editor is nice to use, as it's simple yet comprehensive.

Graphics & Sound

Surprisingly, the area of graphics is one of the weakest aspects of Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000. Here's the good news: With the exception of the four-player mode, the game is fast and fluid. Here's the bad news: First, the overall look of the graphics is grainy, washed out, and simple. Second, the animation is so basic that some 16-bit games put this to shame. Third, impressive special effects are nowhere to be found.

The sound fared much better. Good bike sounds dominate the audio side. A stadium PA announcer, rather than a play-by-play announcer, details each race and sometimes comments during races. The digitized background music comes from alternative bands, but it's hard to hear. Voiceovers from Jeremy McGrath have been included, too.

ConclusionOverall, Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000 does have a few good things going for it. For instance, the game moves quickly, some good multi-player modes have been included, the Track Editor is nice, you'll find indoor and outdoor racing, and the Series mode was done nicely. On the other hand, the game has some major shortcomings in the areas of graphics, physics, and artificial intelligence that affect the game greatly. Yet, strangely, you may find the game fun to play as well. Nevertheless, Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000 isn't worth the full price of admission and doesn't come close to matching the realistic Supercross action found in EA Sports' Supercross 2000. Definitely try before you buy.


Rating: 6 of 10
Visuals: 5/10 | Sound: 7/10 | Controls: 6/10 | Gameplay: 6/10 | Lasting Appeal: 7/10


Author: Scott McCall
Reviewed on: 2000/04/13