Mega Race 2 is the sequel to (surprise) Mega Race and brings with it both the good and the bad. MR2 has some of the best graphics and lighting effects to grace the PC in a long time. While the cost of such good graphics usually takes a hit on fast screen updates and sluggish control, MR2 does not suffer from that affliction. The music is good techno that adds to the adrenaline rush while playing. Control of your vehicle is simple, but can be rather irritating at first. The most difficult part of Mega Race 2 is getting used to is the computer driving perfectly all the time. After a while it begins to wear on you and lowers the fun of the game--but if you're good enough that's not much of an issue.
Mega Race 2 is a combination of 2D and 3D technology meshed to create such spectacular graphics. The backgrounds and the tracks you'll race on are all Full Motion Videos being played back real-time. Some of the tracks you'll race on will twist and turn in ways that are physically impossible, but are really cool. The FMV allows for exceptional clarity and realism in the environments, but at a cost of speed. Sure you can slow your car down, but sooner or later when you accelerate you'll reach the maximum play-back rate of the video. On more powerful machines, this upper limit is high enough to provide a convincing feel of speed and motion--lesser machines will feel sluggish. The vehicles you'll control are real-time rendered and shaded 3D models that fit their environment perfectly. On my P120 there is no slowdown when there are obstacles, explosions, and 7 cars in front of you--if the game slows down on your machine, you can gain speed at the cost of graphics detail.
However no matter what speed your machine is you'll always have the "pleasure" of listening to the mindless ramblings of MR2's most infamous host, Lance Boyle. If you liked him before, you'll like him again as he comments on everything you do. The video sequences featuring Lance and his assistant have been cleaned up quite a bit (as have his teeth) and now sparkle. Running at full-screen 320x200 you'll get to listen to the most obnoxious game-show host to hit TV since Rip Taylor. Thankfully, you can turn off any and all cut-scene sequences featuring Mr. Boyle.
Music and sound effects in Mega Race 2 are used well, but nothing out of the ordinary. All voice acting is done very well and sounds quite clean. The music played while racing is a sequence of Wav files played in order and depending on your machines capabilities are in 16 or 8 bit stereo. The tunes played are mostly the hard beat of techno-rock and are done well, but can be turned off. The sound effects of racing, skidding, firing missiles, and crashing are all done well and help add to the game.
Controlling your vehicle is the key to winning any of the races in MR2. While the joystick would seem to be the best choice, it's too sensitive to be effective. If you want to use the mouse, you may as well not even try--control is impossible. The only one that works is the keyboard, and it's not really the best input for this type of game. You'll have to constantly hold down the accelerator, but tap the brakes at the same time to make it around corners without crashing.
The most annoying thing that happens in MR2 is having the computer perform perfectly, almost to the point of seeming to cheat. Several times I fought through to the final lap and somehow managed stay in first place only to be knocked into the wall and turned around at the last minute to finish in last place. Other times I'll work my way to the front of the pack. I'll see the other cars get stuck in a traffic jam, pass them and then have a couple cars pass me in a straight-away like I'm standing still. The computer controlled cars then hover right in front of me as if they can't go any faster. This kind of behavior is extremely frustrating, not challenging.
The game itself is setup for a lot of replayability. You'll have to race each track countless times before you can master it and your computer adversaries. You must race each track 3 times. Each time with fewer opponents and the requirement to finish in the top 7 first, the top four the second time and first the last time. Then you'll move onto the next, more difficult course. Oh, by the way, you can only save your progress between different types of tracks. So if you win the first two races and lose the third, you'll have to start over and race all three races again.
Overall, I'd say that if you liked Mega Race 1, then you'll like Mega Race 2. There's more of everything, and the graphics and sounds are all great. The computer's ability to drive perfectly while you slam against walls and obstacles gets to be rather annoying at first and extremely frustrating later. For those of you who are good at arcade style racing games, you'll enjoy MR2 but may be disappointed at the apparent speed of your vehicle. The rest of us can keep walking down the software aisle looking for something less arcade-like.
-- Louis Stice
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