Championship Motocross Featuring Ricky Carmichael Review

This title does to its sport what Gran Turismo did to racing cars. In other words, it treats motocross in such a way that a better representation of the sport is difficult to imagine. It’s the type of game that you can play for just a few minutes at a time or for hours. But if you choose the latter, you might need to crank up the A/C! So intense is the action that you might actually have to wipe some sweat off of your brow after a while.

But it’s not just one thing that contributes to Championship Motocross’s intensity. Rather, several factors combine and gel into one of the greatest racing experiences yet to grace the PlayStation.

First, with a few minor exceptions, the game’s physics are incredibly realistic. Paying attention to your angle and speed as you approach a turn is absolutely essential in order to avoid wiping out (though, on the bright side, your stray bike does present a new obstacle to any racers who might trail you). You also must properly judge how to take your jumps. Though they might look impressive on the record board, sometimes a long jump could be your least ideal move. Further, rainy weather conditions can make things really messy as your bike is likely to make wider turns due to a lack of traction.

In the few instances that the physics fail in their realism, the end result almost always benefits you. For instance, at times you’ll find yourself jumping much farther than you intended or in an undesirable direction. While you might wipe out on occasion, the track most often seems to magically keep you in bounds and, despite a slight change in momentum, running along the right track. Also, any unfortunate racers who may have lost control and fallen off of their bikes contain no mass and cannot be run over.

Championship Motocross also features some fantastic graphics to illustrate a variety of track types. Whether you’re racing in an Australian desert on a forested track in Troy, Ohio, or in a Chicago indoor arena, it’s hard not to be impressed by the ecclectic visuals. A worthy example is the track in Arizona, where you must race on sandy terrain that kicks back up at the camera after a long jump as you pass under the natural arches of the desert. On most tracks, random time of day and weather can yield anything from rainy afternoon to a beautiful sunset.

The game also presents the perfect challenge — difficult, yet not impossible. As you acquire more powerful bikes after winning each season, they naturally become harder to control. In other words, it’s easy to go from the champ of one season to the chump of the next. Adding to the increased difficulty as you move along is the tenacity of your competitors. During the first two of the four seasons (125cc and 250cc), opponents aren’t too much trouble. Around the start of the 500cc season, however, you’ll notice that they become smarter, getting in your way whenever they can and even ramming you from behind at times. The points necessary to qualify for the next race require incredible skill by the time of the fourth season. Don’t be surprised if you’re still in first place as far in as the tenth or eleventh race, yet still fail to advance to the next season.

Topping off the list of impressive factors is the sound. While there’s something to be said for the purr of the bikes, Championship Motocross’s soundtrack is surprisingly appealing. The hard-rockin’ tunes supplement the high speed of the game absolutely perfectly. Most notable are Godsmack’s “Moon Baby,” the two songs by Guttermouth, and 2 Skinnee J’s “Riot Nrrrd,” an ’80s nostalgia song featuring lines like, “I used to roam the halls like Anthony Michael.” Even “Too Cold,”, Vanilla Ice’s contribution, seems fitting.

Complaints about Championship Motocross are minimal. If the game is missing anything, it’s a stunt show so that you can perform the many stunts available to you for an actual reason. While the you do have the ability to show off your impressive moves during a race, you’ll often land improperly, thus severely hampering any chance you have at winning. Also, your throttle has no choice but to be set on all or nothing at all; a way to apply some gas at difficult turns without crashing would have been nice.

Finally, the game’s ending isn’t all it’s hyped up to be. While you do get what you’re promised — a preview of the new motocross video “Wrath Child” — it turns out to be nothing more than a one-minute commercial. The word “video” suggests something you’d expect to see on MTV, when in fact it’s merely hyping a videocassette. Players who put in the hours to unlock the video may feel a little like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, being told to be sure to drink their Ovaltine. Kind of a bummer.

Yet despite these setbacks, Championship Motocross can do something many would deem improbable: it can turn gamers into true fans of the sport of motocross. Those who may once have flipped through televised motocross events may find themselves actually seeking out those late-night showings on ESPN2 after playing through this game. It turned this reviewer into a fan, and with its breakneck pace, feverish intensity, and all-out fun, it might just do the same for you.

Graphics

An ecclectic collection of different motocross, supercross and enduro environments.

Sound

If the purr of the bikes doesn’t get you going, the adrenaline-pumping tunes most certainly will!

Enjoyment

This is the type of game you just can’t wait to play after you get home from work.

Replay Value

It takes a long time to master each track, but once you do you will most often win every race. But that’s what a second player is for!

Documentation

The instructions tell you all you need to know … even if the last half of the booklet is nothing more than a catalog for motocross apparel.

Written by: Brent

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