Rainbow Six Vegas
Time was, people used to scoff that you couldn't do first-person shooters on a console. TimeSplitters and Halo disproved that notion, no matter what some musty old PC obsessives would have you believe, and so now we move to a new battlefield: you can't do first-person shooters on a handheld.
I'd love to say that the PSP version of Ubisoft's latest Tom Clancy terrorist slayathon is the one to help tip the balance of popular opinion but, sadly, it's more than a little poopy. Even though the game is set in Vegas, the paltry spread of levels all take place in anonymous villas and caves, so the opening animation of heavily armed mayhem reflected in a roulette wheel proves cheekily misleading. Good start.
Are you ready to dance? It's not a question, it's the message that booms from the TV when you turn on your PS2 and insert SBK 07. What follows is a bastard blend of Limp Bizkit and 2 Unlimited music accompanied by a pop-up montage of size zero girls who are all exclusively blond, fit and smiling like they've just earned enough to go on another Marc Jacobs shopping spree. It all comes as a bit of a shock, given that this is a bike game and not the Swedish Eurovision Song Contest entry.
Bike games are never, ever like this. Moto GP from Namco, for example, is distinctly nerdy in its treatment of vehicles which, if you're honest, you've never used, owned or intend to buy unless you hit that tricky mid-life crisis. The first hour of most super bike games are usually a dismal experience. You spend approximately 23 seconds trying to get out of the gravel pit you hit on the first corner, spend 6 minutes getting near the middle of the pack and then crash into someone's protruding knee. It's too late to qualify so you end up pretending that you're in Grand Theft Auto, doing wheelies, endos and crashing in the most hideous ways to spice up the replays. SBK 07 is different. So different that competing against the colossal 21 on-screen riders feels achievable in the first ten minutes and doesn't require hours of practice just to qualify.
Perhaps it's because the official licence is tied in to something different than the ever-so-anoraky Moto GP licence that SBK 07 plays like a fun arcade racer that hasn't ever been seen on PS2. The official licence, as far as we can tell, means lots of girls and lots of sponsored leather items. We couldn't give a chuff about that, though fans obviously will, but we do care that SBK 07 makes a conscious effort to appeal to every single man and child that might own a PS2. There are official tracks, riders and bikes to be tinkered with but the fact that SBK 07 has the forgiving handling and excitement of an arcade game is key here. SBK 07 is simple and addictive. Think SEGA's aged Super Hang-On rather than the super realism of Moto GP. Everything is exaggerated to make an event of the sport. Accelerate and the sound of a ragged anorak being dragged through a supersonic wind tunnel can be heard, all bass slap and flapping fart sounds. Bizarrely, there's some excited shouting from a distant (and possibly foreign) commentator when you complete each lap. It all adds to the atmosphere, along with the wobble-cam kicking in when the speedo hits a suicidal speed.
SBK-07: Superbike World Championship will be heading to PS2 and PSP on 18th May.
The World Superbikes series may not be as familiar to gamers as MotoGP, but at times the production-based series has arguably been more popular, particularly in Britain with home-grown champions Carl Fogarty (1994, 1995, 1998, 1999), Neil Hodgson (2003) and James Toseland (2004), riding bikes based on those in showrooms, but with around 200mph top speeds, around 210bhp, and up-rated suspension, brakes and engine parts.
Black Bean has said that PC and Xbox 360 versions of SBK: Superbike World Championship will be available in October, and also filled us in on the demo plans.