The category of extreme sport we have come to call motocross has exploded in popularity in the last several years. And now that it has a sturdy foothold in American society, what better time than now to marry hype with hype by developing a motocross title for the console that gamers have been salivating over for years? Championship Motocross 2002 Featuring Ricky Carmichael is on its way to the Playstation 2, and from what can be told so far, the game looks very impressive. The title is to be the premiere motocross game for the Playstation 2, and THQ, the developer of the title, hopes the game doesn't drop the ball as a representative of the genre. Indications from this very early stage in development would lead one to believe that CMX 2002 will be quite impressive. Being a Playstation 2 title, the visuals are incredibly detailed. Each bike features 3000 polygons, with the same ammount defining the riders. Graphic detail in the title is fantastic, as almost every item in the game is meticulously crafted and visually described. An eagle's flapping wings couldn't match the game's fluidity, as CMX 2002 runs at a solid sixty frames-per-second; and one can only hope that the mentioned statistic holds up once all the riders are placed in the races. At the moment, only two or three bikes are actually available on-track.
Apparently the game is incredibly realistic, with incessant toil going into the process of finding a realistic physics model that would create a life-like riding experience onscreen. To elaborate further on this subject, the game's Lead Programmer Ming Lee had this to say, "When you begin with an arcade-type model, a programmer has to add every particular piece of fun to the game. When you have a physics model, a lot of things come together naturally, because it's a dynamic system." In laymen's terms, this means that there's a constant system at work in the game which causes the environment to interact with your bike. For example, the game features a friction model which measures the force down to every action the rider takes. If a biker makes a turn, the weight of the bike and rider interact with the terrain in such a fashion that your bike is affected appropriately depending on several variables. The affects the models have upon your bike are corresponding to the actions your rider takes. Also very
impressive is the level of depth in which the designers went to in order to place several components of real motocross racing, which typically wouldn't be found in a videogame. The Playstation 2's processing power makes these additions, additions like whoop sections and banked turns very possible. The wheelie is a staple maneuver in motocross, and of course can be handled with ease by this title's physics model; but what's more impressive is that CMX 2002 can also handle stoppies (wheelies on the front tire). On the subject of aesthetics, CMX 2002 Featuring Ricky Carmichael is also slated to have an official soundtrack, which will feature collaboration from real bands.
As for the game's features, there are tons of them. The game is, of course, licensed by Ricky Carmichael, the posterboy of the motocross sport. The game's level of authenticity is extensive, as THQ has already announced that Mike Lorocco, Jeff Emig, Greg Albertyn, Carey Hart and Mike Jones are all to be featured in the game, and many more are sure to be added as development of the game progresses (eventually the title is said to boast twenty-eight riders from the 125cc, 250cc and freestyle arenas of competition from the actual sport). Another feature the game offers is that each of the riders can perform their own authentic signature moves. For example, Carey Hart will be able to perform his infamous 'Hart Attack' maneuver. The game is also set to feature a create-a-rider mode, so gamers can customize their own racers to wreak havoc in the authentic motocross environments. This title features twenty-five tracks that come straight from the world of motocross, supercross, amateur and freestyle racing. THQ is planning to incorporate Loretta Lynn's National Amateur Championships, the Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championships, the Free Ride Moto-X Championships, and last but not least, the THQ U.S. Open. The game apparently has a heavy multiplayer focus, as CMX 2002 is said to feature six different multiplayer modes to keep gamers interested. Such modes include a stunt competition and a challenge mode, as well as a target jumping mode (you can't have a motocross game without a good round of target jumping). The one player mode is moving along, but few details are available on that as of now. The career mode of the title sounds very worthwhile, as gamers start off as amateurs and try to work their way to the top of the motocross world. Players will have to impress corporations in order to receive sponsorship deals and cash incentives as your career progresses. CMX 2002 features some diverse motocross challenges, as we've seen in all the different modes of play THQ has shown us this early in development. Despite all the advances the 128-bit systems have brought with them, the primary ingredient of any videogame is still fun. This aspect is clearly still important to the CMX 2002 team, as the game's Lead Designer John Grigsby said, "The fundamental experience of driving your vehicle around has to be fun. Even if it's only one bike, that has to feel really cool. We've really been concentrating on making the bike fun to drive."
THQ's latest entry into the motocross genre looks to provide a smooth, realistic ride through the world of championship motocross. What little THQ has revealed thus far already appears very promising, and the first representative of the motocross genre for the Playstation 2 is not looking like it will disappoint. Fans of the sport and series no doubt already have their eye on this game, but even for gamers who have never been into motocross, this game very well be a good place to start.
Pacific Coast Power and Light is developing CMX 2002, and the title is set to drop sometime in mid 2001.
10/27/2000 Bryan Keers