VCL: Motor Mayhem Review
Whoever over at Infograme's marketing department thought that Motor Mayhem should be released within a week of Twisted Metal: Black's release needs to be demoted to a customer service agent. Motor Mayhem is one of those "wannabe" games, much like Vigilante 8 was. It's not only half-assed on Infogrames' part to release a car-combat title on a console that's got the greatest car combat series on it, but pretty much every developer who's thinking of developing a car combat title, needs to stop in its tracks, while they still have their dignity left. Activision tried, and miserably failed. But some may say that if a game like Mario Kart 64 was dethroned by Crash Team Racing, why can't Twisted Metal be? For starters Mario Kart 64 wasn't exactly an "excellent" game, it was fun but lacked any real challenge in the single-player mode and any depth. This is where Crash took the gold, and stole the crown away from Nintendo as kart-racing king. To put it in simple terms, Mario Kart needed a lot to be improved, where in areas Twisted Metal is almost perfect in every respect. So why try to capitalize on a genre that's dominated by one name? It's like trying to take behead the Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy series, it'll never happen. Case in point, Motor Mayhem trying to claim it's the best car-combat title out there, it'll never happen.
Falsely claiming that this game "unleashes" the power of the PS2, Motor Mayhem does not. Instead Motor Mayhem is the perfect piece of software that will replicate ideal 'early' first generation PS2 titles, and it shows. Beyond Games has done an aweful job in trying to create a well done atmosphere. At first the -dissapointing- intro shows a large space-craft hovering gently through space, as dozens of TV screens show gameplay footage of Motor Mayhem. So my initial impression was that most of the action would take place in space or on another planet. But I was dead-wrong, instead the enevrionments I was handed were plain, most of which were very earth-like and didn't even spark the slighest interest in me. Every environment was shallow, beyond comparison. Compared to Twisted Metal's dark and grim atmosphere, Motor Mayhem looks like Barney's Adventure to Barbie Land. Where is the ingenuity? Where is the sense of radioactive sci-fi electronics surrounding you as you battle? And more importantly, where is the level design? The arenas you are given in the game are not only piss-poor small, but where is the innovation?
I've used the phrase "where is" 4 times in the last two lines, which really acknowledges you of the fact that this is one empty game. The tracks offer absolutely no secret areas to be found, or any wow factor for that matter. And it almost makes me wonder, what went wrong with track design. Car detail now is a bit on the brighter side as the vehicles feature some moderate detail and decent designs. But that's about the only thing this game's got going for it visually, average vehicular detail. And aside from environmental issues, this game suffers from some atrociously bad frame rates, as in many cases the FPS can drop to the mid teens. Overall, depressing visuals that are filled with uncontrollable frame droppings, and piss poor environments.
It's rare that a game's visuals could greatly effect the gameplay but in this case it does. Because of the lacking environments and the fractious frame rate, the enjoyment of the game is quickly bogged down within a matter of seconds. In terms of variation this game pretty much offers none. There may be 12 tracks but seeing as how cramped and claustrophobic they are, it only makes matters worse, as I'd rather have 6 large battle-grounds. The 10 competitors (two of which are secret) are split up into two groups, The Defenders and The Underworld. Each character has of course his/her own distinct special. But the vehicles on the other hand aren't very hot. While there are two or three designs that look appealing, the sci-fi modeling is incredibly cliché, and simply put "boring." The career mode is like-wise, un-appealing and nowhere near as captivating as Twisted Metal: Black's. The characters have absolutely no story or dialogue of any kind, unlike Twisted Metal, where its characters almost feel life-like. The career mode gets the gamer involved in three kinds of competitions, Deathmach, Eliminator (last man standing) and Endurance. Nothing about the gameplay intrigues my taste, the game isn't even four player compatible, which pretty much makes this the worst car-combat game to date. On top of that this is also the worst PS2 game out, along with Surfing H30.
If Infogrames thinks one song from Crystal Method and Methods of Mayhem makes a "raging soundtrack" they've got another thing coming to them. Sure the two selected songs are good, but who's idea was it to only include the tracks as the opening and closing themes of the game? The general sound during the game is just as bad as the game itself, muffled sound effects, almost non-existent in-game music, and no voice acting. Overall the sound has a lot in common with the game, it sucks!
I've been harsh on Motor Mayhem there's no question about it, and I'll be even harsher on the control. Who ever was in charge of the game's controls needs a serious lesson in a thing called motion-sickness. When I booted up the game and began playing, within two minutes I became feeling nauseated and very light headed. I had to instantly turn off the game knowing that further playing could cause a seizure. I've never had an experience like this before, not with Twisted Metal: Black, not with any adventure game, or any other title. The camera movement is far too fast, and because of the bright colors excessive dilation of the pupil can lead to a light-head feeling, as well as nausea. The game also features absolutely no speed, unlike the king, Twisted Metal.
This is by far the worst PS2 game available, and it saddens me to see it from a reliable 3rd party such as Infogrames. Those who are even thinking of renting the game should seriously reconsider, this is easily one game I'll never play again, not if my library of games depended on it. The visuals are aweful, the gameplay is tedious, the sound is nearly non-existent and worst of all the control get one seriously ill. I suggest that everybody looks away from this game, as it could not only hurt somebody literally, but it could scar them for life as a horrible videogaming experiance. Twisted Metal: Black all the way.
7/10/2001 Arnold Katayev