If there is one thing that has never been given its props on the Playstation it is off road biking. Motocross to be exact. For a sport that looks like so much fun, the Playstation has made hardly any games pertaining to it, and the ones that have been made are not fun at all and do not do the sport justice. Finally, there is something to change all of that. The new Championship Motocross delivers full customization of the bikes as well as a very realistic fun feel with good control and animations.
The first thing that I want to talk about is the great way that the bikes handle the road and the jumps. You have full control of the bikes meaning that you have to angle them to hit the jumps and landings perfectly so that you don't get a face full of mud or sand. If you have a dual shock than you will be able to use the left stick to control the entire front end of the bike. This is really nice if you want to pop a quick wheelie is order to hit a jump with a little extra burst of speed. While in the air there are a number of different tricks that you can perform to show off. Be sure to have enough control to hit the ground correctly or you will be watching you rider bite it big time.
Control is a big factor in this game. It is difficult enough that you will really have to learn how to tune up and race your bike perfectly in order to win. You can race an entire race and never spill once and still come in 4th or 5th place. This is due to the fact that you did not have the right bike set-up for the course. Also, racing the actual course takes a certain amount of perfecting. Hitting turns, jumps, and landings are all skills that must be developed just like in real motocross. Once you master all of the controls, the game will feel very nice to you since it really feels like you are controlling the bike instead of just moving the track underneath it.
The options in the game are pretty standard. You can race a single race, in a championship, against the clock, or just for practice. There are 9 bikes and about 13 tracks after everything is unlocked, which seems like plenty although the courses are very short (another attribute of motocross). Be sure to get a lot of practice in knowing the courses because you will need to know them really well once you enter the championship. These guys don't mess around and one spill will cost you 4 places. This is even more reason to really know what you are doing with your bikes. However, wiping out is not that common especially if you don't try to do anything fancy (but I know you can never pass up an opportunity to show off).
It is not all fun and games on the motocross tracks however. The Playstation has really begun to show its age, as there is a lot of pop up not only in the backgrounds, but also in the textures of the mud and terrain. Smoothness is not a quality I would attribute to Championship Motocross, but I blame that more on the system than the game. Still the rough edges give it that muddy feel that motocross is made of. Another problem is the collision engine. Every time your bike hits something like another biker or the edge it just bounces off. You don't get tied up or wreck really, just Boing!
If you are a fan of racing games then I think you should definitely give this a shot. Though it does not have the glamour of a Gran Turismo or even Moto Racer, the play is solid and the physics are almost dead on. You will feel just like you are racing for real as you and 10 other bikers fly of a jump into the hanging air. Some will wipe out and some will make it. Will you be one of the lucky?
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