Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
Ducati World Racing Challenge
Score: 78%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Acclaim
Developer: Attention To Detail
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Racing

Graphics & Sound:
Although the limited graphical abilities of the PlayStation hardware have forced many new games to appear dated and unimpressive when compared with the Dreamcast, PS2 and forthcoming X-Box, several titles still stand the test of time with trend-setting visual innovations and creative management on a rapidly aging system. Ducati World Racing Challenge, however, sadly does not fall into the latter category. While there certainly have been far uglier racers out there, Ducati World just doesn't seem to work things out for the best; blocky-looking track surroundings, lifeless model animation and absolutely ghastly sky renderings are all part of the package.

The sound and music aren't nearly as bad, though. Many of the motor noises and tire squeals could use some tweaking, but they serve the game's purpose well enough; indeed, the modern electronic soundtrack from Martin Summerville showcases as one of the game's least annoying features. Much like the Wipeout and Rollcage series games, Ducati World provides the player with an energetic accompaniment of pulsing, beat-driven tunes as the races rush on.

Aiming to gratify the hardcore motorcycle enthusiast lurking within all of us, Ducati World offers a wide variety of choices from the get-go (including quick races, Memory Card challenges, shopping sprees for tougher leathers and helmets, detailed bike upgrades, etc.), yet leaves much of the experience off-limits to the amateur biker. In the main Ducati Life mode, players must start from the bottom with a handful of cash and a need for speed; only after beating out the competition and building an impressive collection of street machines can you access the more advanced challenges.

Also available are the helpful License modes, which give players higher track access after completing a series of difficult tutorial runs, and the ever-entertaining Time Attack mode in which you race against a ghost of yourself from your fastest lap on the course - and it's just perfect for crashing into sharp corners (on purpose) going 120 mph, then completing the lap and watching yourself fly through the air again in real time. By the way, crashing may very well be the most fun you'll have in this game; there's just something about seeing a little man roll 50 times on concrete that inevitably brings a smile to most faces.

It takes a lot of practice to make it into the higher stages of the game, and that's a very good thing in the racing genre. If you don't let frustration and tedium interfere, replay value runs pretty high for the most part - however, learning the subtle differences in handling each type of bike can be a serious pain if you aren't prepared to give it your all. The Full and Advanced license stages will seem like some of the most impossible tests imaginable for many players new to the game, but once you've mastered their trials, there's no looking back.

Game Mechanics:
Bike controls aren't very complex here, but they really needn't be. Ducati World's interesting physics design helps to add a layer of realism to the racing experience, but sometimes it's far too easy to spin horribly out of control from grazing the analog pad in the wrong direction or barely nudging a corner too tightly. Then again, it's possible to drive your bike along the vertical base of a wall for 10 seconds at a time and ramp off of grassy hills at top speeds without crashing (but keep in mind you're racing to win, not to perform Tony Hawk-style tricks), so ultimately the realism department wavers a bit on this one. Nevertheless, this game's certainly not cut out for everyone, but if you're a real-life fan of the machines or a die-hard nut for the genre, Ducati World Racing Challenge could possibly be your new digital crack.

-Ben Monkey, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ben Lewis

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.