Jeremy McGrath Supercross World is the most recent in a line of MX games developed by and for Acclaim. The franchise last reared its head on the PlayStation in the form of McGrath vs. Pastrana, which was different from its predecessors in that it was developed by Z-Axis, the team responsible for all things Dave Mirra. Supercross World, on the other hand, was developed by one of Acclaim's in-house teams, and the result can't be called anything but a miserable failure.
The heart of the game is its single-player mode, which is divided up into two main parts--the single event mode, which allows you to pick a rider and race immediately, and the career mode, which requires you to select a character and enter him in a series of races. There are a number of different characters and bikes to choose from in both modes. The different bikes are sorted according to four ratings: top speed, suspension, traction, and powerband, which measures the acceleration of the bike. In what appears to be a complete lack of effort on Acclaim's part, though each bike is of a different make and model, all of them look exactly the same, with the exception of different-colored gas tanks and fenders. The game also seems to be doomed from the time you first select your character. Much like their motorcycles, each character is defined by his individual stats, which are rated from one to five. They are all ranked according to their jumping, cornering, stability, and stunt abilities. McGrath is the safest character to start off with in the single event mode, due to his high numbers (four in all four categories), while other riders have higher numbers in some areas and lower in others. In the game's career mode, no matter what rider you choose, all these stats will begin at one, which puts your character at a rather extreme disadvantage from the get-go. All the competing riders already have their numbers beefed up to the single event levels. This becomes immediately apparent as soon as the first race begins and you're left in a cloud of bad particle effects, wondering if you've done something wrong.
Graphically, McGrath Supercross World is a sight to make sore eyes. If it weren't for the slightly higher polygon count in the character and motorcycle models and more rounded hills, you'd swear you were playing a PlayStation game. In keeping with what is becoming tradition for the series, there is a poor draw-in distance, and hills, mounds, trees, and whatever else lies ahead can come popping up at a moment's notice. Some hills even pop up partially naked of textures, looking like twitching gray masses as the texture panels load belatedly. The textures themselves are of the lowest denominator as well. In the distance, they appear to be of the quality you'd expect from an early N64 game, all washed out and muddled. As you drive closer, they sharpen--slightly--but not enough to make up for the overall poor presentation.
The control of the game adds even more to the frustration. Driving and steering while on level ground works fairly well, but once you start catching air, things fall apart rather quickly. Landing is the most difficult part to deal with. Some landings will happen almost supernaturally--you'll come down on the front tire and magically be racing away, having lost a negligible amount of speed, while at other times, you'll land on one or both of your tires and crash.
The sound is probably the strongest point in the game, mostly due to the soundtrack. While it's not on the same level as the soundtrack in the Tony Hawk or Mat Hoffman games, there are a few good songs by some alternative and punk bands. The contributions of Millencolin, Mudhoney, and the Supersuckers are quite good in particular. While the music is good, the sound effects don't fare as well. There is a standard set of engine noises that are reused liberally, and while there are sounds to accompany your landings and such, overall, sound effects are used sparingly.
On top of all this, the game's AI is sorely lacking. Calling to mind the AI of Midway's CART Fury Championship Racing, the computer-driven opponents are given scripted laps that they diligently drive, whether you're in their way or not. If in fact you are in their way, they won't hesitate to plow into you or even land on you after a jump. This isn't intentional on their part--they just aren't made to understand if something is in their way. Every once in a while, after being knocked off their bike, they'll get back on only to drive in circles like madmen until they are knocked off again or the race ends.
The bottom line is that the Jeremy McGrath games have been building up--or down--to this point for a long time. While they debuted firmly in the mediocre, they've steadily descended into what can only rightly be called terrible. One can hope that Jeremy McGrath Supercross World is that final blow, the nail in the proverbial coffin. Gamers are advised to avoid this game, period.