December 22, 2000

Suzuki Alstare Extreme Racing - Review

Release Date Publisher Developer Players Rating RRP
19/12/1999UbiSoftCriterion Studios1-2G$89.95
VMU Game Difficulty Save Size Vibration 60Hz PAL Border
NoHard16 BlocksNoNoNone

Suzuki Alstare Extreme Racing was released as Redline Racer in Japan in early 1999. The game received mixed reviews and had several problems including very average graphics. Fortunately Criterion Studios decided to fix these problems and even improve several features in the game for release outside Japan. The most noticeable change is the official Suzuki branding which the game has received as well as a graphical overhaul.

Due to a deal between UbiSoft and the Suzuki racing team it is now possible to ride on real Suzuki motorbikes with true to life paint jobs and riders from the racing team. While these changes add little for those who don't follow the sport, for fans this is a major bonus. The other big improvement over the Japanese version is the improved textures and track-side detail. Gone are the barren looking tracks from Redline Racer and in come richly textured roads and sceners as well as several new tracks.

As a one player game Suzuki Alstare is a lot of fun. The game includes fairly standard modes such as single race and championship. During the championship mode you will be competing against 7 other bikes with points awarded according to where you finish the race. At the end of the season, if you do well enough in the rankings, you will move on to the next season. As with most racing games as you move through the seasons new bikes and tracks are unlocked.

Suzuki Alstare has a fairly wide variety of tracks. Some of them are fairly standard mountain racing tracks but other tracks see you racing through cities, on beaches and much more. Each track has several checkpoints which must be reached before your timer reaches zero or else you will be disqualified. This seems particularly unfair because as you are forced out of the race in championship mode as even bikes behind you continue in the rave and earn points even though you are disqualified.

There are some other problems in the game. Firstly, some of the tracks are very narrow and avoiding the walls is virtually impossible. It would have been nice to see some of the tracks a little more open without cliffs or walls on both sides. Another problem is that no matter how many times you crash your bike, you never get injured and worse still, your bike never sustains any damage. No doubt, a part of UbiSoft's deal with Suzuki.

The biggest problem with Suzuki Alstare is the graphics in 2 player mode. I don't think that I have seen worse draw-in since the days of the Super Nintendo. The tracks are literally being drawn only a split second before you reach that point on the track. On some tracks this makes preparing for corners almost impossible as you can't see where the track is headed. Surely, this could have been fixed for release outside Japan.

The music in Suzuki Alstare is quite good, and definitely has the biggest bass line ever in a game. Similar in style to Prodigy during their "Experience" days, the music has a harsh dance edge which suits the pace of the game perfectly. Of course, if you are more into a grunge/rock style this probably won't be to your liking.

Overall Suzuki Alstare is a fairly decent racing game in single player mode. Playing with 2 people can also be fun, but is let down by terrible draw-in. It's a shame that the developers of the wonderful Trick Style couldn't have fixed this graphics problem as it soon becomes obtrusive and annoying. Think hard before purchasing this game, unless your a huge motorbike fan.

Graphics Sound Gameplay Value Overall