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Multi Racing Championship Review

Publisher - Ocean
Developer - Imagineer
Platform - N64
Type - Racing
Score - 5/10

The N64 console has great racing games, but so far, there have been no really good "straight" automobile racing games. The only offering we've had is Cruis'n USA, and that hardly constitutes a good racer. Multi Racing Championship is the N64's next attempt. Is MRC the racing game we've been waiting for?

MRC has a look and feel that surpasses Cruis'n USA, but it isn't as pleasing as the other racers (Waverace and Mario Kart). MRC does not suffer from flatness or a 32 bit feel, it just looks ugly at times. The textures used in the game have a gritty and unappealing appearance and the colors used in the tracks tend to clash. MRC does a better job with their car and menu selection animations. A major bonus over Cruis'n is that MRC animates fast enough to feel like a racing game.

MRC gives you a choice of two views: on view is with the camera sitting behind the automobile and the other is a first person mode. There is a greater sensation of speed in first person mode, but it is significantly harder to control the car. Speaking of sensation, MRC is rumble pak compatible. The use of the rumble pak is more subtle an sophisticated than other games; there is a significant jolt upon collisions, but the really neat stuff happens when the car goes off the track. Different types of off-road terrain make the pak shake in distinct patterns. The programming is so good that you can tell what type of turf you're on without looking at the screen.

MRC is a decent racer, but it has several flaws that keep it from being a truly good game. The most glaring oversight lies in the control of the cars. The game gives you several racers including hidden cars, but almost all of them are impossible to control. Even after a significant amount of practice, it's still impossible to make your car turn when you want to. All of the cars have different stats and they can even be customized to an extent, but the only car with decent handling is one of the secret, super-cars. Another problem is in the one player mode. All of the cars are spread out along the track; there is no pack to race against, only the occasional, sparse racer. Reaching the car in first place is a tedious and difficult task. Should you actually pass the lead car, it quickly and usually unrealistically catches you. MRC's two player head-to-head racing also has problems. The game uses a split screen scenario, but only allots a portion of the screen to each player. About 20% of your half of the TV set is dedicated to speed an rank information. This would seem to suggest that the N64 cannot handle two players at once, but N64's multi-player games prove that this is simply not the case (Mario Kart, Starfox, GoldenEye...). Perhaps if the MRC design team had more N64 experience or more time, they could have delivered a bit more pizzazz.

Even with the mentioned problems, MRC still has some potential, but was really makes this game a rental rather than a purchase is the track design. The biggest problem is that there are only three tracks. They contain multiple paths, but they are not very large. Frankly, they get old real quick. Even with options such as altering the weather conditions and closing off streets to make off-road courses, the ugly truth is that this game needs more races. MRC tracks have a couple hidden shortcuts to liven them up, but they are hardly "hidden". I was able to locate all the short cuts after playing the game for an hour and a half.

The verdict on MRC is don't rush out and get it. The game is fun and visually decent, but there just isn't enough here to justify paying big bucks for it. It will however provide an evening's worth of enjoyment if you pick it off the shelf from your local video store.