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Multi-Racing Championship

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Reviewed by Scott McCall Multi-Racing Championship, or MRC, is the first racing game to appear on the N64 that can be likened to popular 32-bit racers such as Ridge Racer, Sega Rally, etc. Despite qualities and gameplay that actually measure up pretty well in comparison to the aforementioned games, MRC ends up only being an above average racing title because of its extremely lacking replay value. As the name implies, MRC is a conglomerate of basically all aspects of racing. There are different types of vehicles (4WD, RR, FR), different weather conditions (fog, rain, snow), different car settings (brake, steering, gear, etc.), different kinds of road terrain (gravel, dirt, pavement), and different menus of options. The graphics in MRC are solid but unimpressive. The game moves along at a nice, brisk pace, and there is little to no pop-up and clipping. But the weather effects in the game are nothing to write home about. Basically, the graphics in MRC are a little on the disappointing side because it appears as if the game could easily be done on a 32-bit system. The aural aspects of the game are even more disappointing. Although I'm not usually one to get annoyed by voice in video games, this announcer really got on my nerves. He's annoying in the worse way one can be in a car: he's a backseat driver. True, the voice can be turned off, but if it's going to be put into a game, it might as well be useful, right? In the one-player mode, the announcer says stuff like "We're coming to a fork soon" or "Sharp right turn." Furthermore, the music is just weird and poorly composed. Control in MRC is interesting. At times it can be terrible and other times it can be sweet. First of all, the control scheme is very simple. The variable Control Stick is used to steer the car, the A button is the gas, the B button is the brake, and the Z and R buttons are used for shifting. And, oh yeah, you can switch camera angles with the Left C button. The problem with the game is that only one of the available cars controls well enough to use. The nine other cars have control which is too lose and which makes it near impossible to take bends. Fortunately, the one car with good control, the "Kingroader" from "Toyohata," has very tight control and can be picked by both players in the two-player mode. By the way, the game makes great use of the Rumble Pak by having different kinds of rumbles for each type of terrain. Each of the three courses in MRC has multiple, branching paths with both on- and off-road terrain to navigate. In the one-player mode, there are four different options to choose from. There are the Championship, Time Trial, Free Run and Match Race modes. In the Championship mode, it's you against nine other computer cars. Oddly enough, the top computer cars get off to a huge lead in the beginning (15 seconds or so), but the artificial intelligence is fairy good -- but easy -- after that. A solid driver will slowly chip away at the stone and will catch up by the end of the race. Unfortunately, the computer always drives like this and there are no options to increase the difficulty level. MRC's Time Trial mode is similar to others that have been seen on the N64. The game will save your best times, of course, and you can even race against a "ghost" of your previous race. The Free Run mode is essentially practice, as there are no opponents and no constraints. Finally, there is the Match Race mode, which only opens up after completing the Championship mode. In the Match Race, you and a secret computer car battle it out one-on-one. The races take place at night in this mode, too. But, alas, all it takes is to tweak around with your machine's settings to breeze through this mode. In all honesty, the average gamer should be able to get through both the Championship and Match Race modes in two or three hours. There is also a two-player mode in MRC. First of all, the divided screens do not take up the whole screen, much like Stunt Race FX on the Super NES. Second, you can only race one-on-one in the two-player; you cannot race against the computer. The only plus of the two-player mode is that you can open and close sections of roads in any of the tracks. But that gets old after 15 minutes. It's such a shame. MRC had tremendous potential because of its unique branching, multi-terrain concept, but the game just lacks any real challenge or replay value. With its measly three tracks, lackluster two-player mode, average aesthetics and extremely short replay value, MRC ends up only being slightly better than Cruis'n USA. If you are a huge fan of time trial racing, you might get a lot of enjoyment out of the game. But for the rest of us, this game is strictly a rental and no more.

Graphics: 3.5 out of 5 Sound: 2.9 out of 5 Control: 3.8 out of 5 Gameplay: 3.5 out of 5 Lastability: 1.7 out of 5 Overall: 3.3 out of 5

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