Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone




Acclaim's SX Superstar attempts to offer gamers something different by taking a typical motocross racing game and adding a unique career mode. This mode lets you live the lifestyle of a pro rider by moving up the ranks from the poorhouse to a penthouse apartment. There are several types of racing included in the game with Baja courses, Circuit races, and stunt tracks for some additional variety. Unfortunately, SX Superstar's sub par visuals suffer from a washed-out appearance with annoying clip and pop-up that can be quite distracting. Do these problems ruin the game? Join the Laser as we discover the answer.

Despite the fact that there are loads of extreme sports on the market, they just seem to keep coming up like weeds. Add Acclaim's newest release, SX superstar to the long list of contenders. SXS takes an arcade style approach to the genre, emphasizing stunts and speed over realism and depth. Players expecting realistic bike physics and a deep stunt set are likely to be disappointed by the game, since it offers a bare-bones feature list in this department. However, it does offer more than 20 different and surprisingly varied courses, upgradeable bikes, unlockable extras and several unique modes of play. There are three basic play modes included in SXS including a standard Arcade, deep Championship and split-scren Multiplayer modes of play. Initially, players select which of the riders they want to be. After this is complete, select the bike to ride and it's time for the racing action. There are several types of races that you'll have to challenge in order to win such as Baja, Circuit Races, Stunt Events, A to B races and Uphill challenges. Each race type offers its own challenges and rewards, so players will need to be quite versatile in order to conquer the game. While most of the race types are standard, the Baja Races are more interesting and challenging than the other modes. Here, you are set in a free-roaming environment and have to race through various checkpoints in the right order, which isn't as easy as it sounds, because the checkpoints aren't placed linearly. The other modes are fairly self-explanatory, though the Championship mode is a bit more elaborate than you'd expect it to be.

In the championship mode, you start at the bottom of the heap. You are stuck in a dingy apartment with a low-powered bike and an ugly, middle-aged girlfriend. In order to gain more status in this mode, you have to win races, which appear on your calendar. When you earn races, you earn cash and can gain endorsements if you rank high enough. However, losing races means you lose money, since you have the expense of keeping up your bike, so it's important to stay focused, because a few bad runs can make for serious setbacks. Between each race, you can check both phone and fax messages from your manager, sponsors and girlfriend. It's up to you to decide which sponsors to take on, and which to pass-up. You'll also need to upgrade your bike, since while its decent early on, you won't be able to compete with the other riders as you move up the ranks. As you win more races and make more money, you can also buy new bikes with the goal of one day buying your dream bike. While the Career mode is interesting, it's not as deep or challenging as it could have been and ends up as a slightly more elaborate arcade mode. It gets tedious checking out the messages and its a tad limited in the number of options it gives you control over, since all you really have to do is say 'yes' most of the time.

SX Superstar's trick system is easy to learn and allows players to perform some cool stunts, catch big air and tricks for extra points. Most players should be familiar with the game's standard moves with the usual Bike Grabs, Nac Nacs, Scissors and Lazy Boys making an appearance. Most of the moves require a good sense of timing, since you'll crash if you don't end your tricks at the right time. Luckily, most of the moves are quite simple to perform requiring only simple button combinations to achieve. For bigger points, players can perform multiple moves or more complicated ones, though these are much harder to land. Other techniques players can use include holding down the button to preload the bike before a jump. The amount of preload you have built up is displayed on a power bar, and successfully timing this can dramatically increase the amount of big air you get. Players can also powerslide to take turns more effectively and implement the nitro boost to gain a short burst of speed.

All of these options seem decent enough but where SX Superstar falls flat are in its graphics, which are far below the standards seen in other Xbox games. The washed out graphical appearance makes for a dull looking game, and the environments themselves seem bland and uninspired. Many of the track side objects lack detail and the riders themselves look average with indifferent animation, giving SX Superstar a look that is far from glamorous. The behind the racer camera angle is decent to a point, but limits your field of vision. This makes objects, walls and steep drops appear from out of nowhere, giving you no time to react. Making matters worse, the engine suffers from excessive pop-in and clipping which is quite distracting during the heat of the race. This means you'll crash into objects far too often, making for the gameplay far more frustrating than it should be. The game's sense of speed also seems a little off, with the frame-rates moving a bit too slowly to create a convincing illusion of speeding down the tracks. While there are several types of courses, they all seem to suffer from the same blandness of design, making for an unappealing title that looks decidedly behind the state-of-the-art. SX Superstar's music tracks are also substandard, offering little more than forgettable alternative rock that's better when it's muted. Unlike many other Xbox titles, players can't download their own tracks, so you're basically stuck with the default tracks, which repeat endlessly and gratingly. All told, the game's aesthetic appeal is surprisingly limited and makes playing the game an exercise in tedium.

Extreme sports racing titles are a dime a dozen, and while Acclaim's SX Superstar offers some unique gameplay modes, it doesn't offer nearly enough to stand out from the pack. The inclusion of interesting ideas such as the career mode gives it a bit more depth than most other arcade racers. SX Superstar's controls are decent, but the trick selection is limited. While most of the courses are uninspired, the non-linear levels are more challenging and interesting than you'd expect. However, these innovative features are wasted. The game's visuals don't live up to the standards set by the many other, more polished racers on the console. The visuals are plagued with a washed out color scheme and excessive pop-up and clipping. The average controls are easy to understand, but lack variety. This overall lack of inspiration means there isn't enough to keep you interested for very long. While there are some interesting ideas in SX Superstar, the poor execution leaves a lot to be desired. Overall, SX Superstar is a disappointing title that doesn't live up to its potential.

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