Track: Route 66
Garage Settings: 1400 med tires/soft suspension
Lap time: 1:36
The look and feel of Route 66 is reminiscent of the old MTM 1 days when the track itself was center stage as opposed all the nifty little gizmos one could put in it to give it visual appeal. If you're new to the game with no prior history of MTM 1, this track may appear bland, uninspiring, and even dull. Such sentiment would certainly be understandable given what some track makers are doing nowadays with special visual effects, but it is our opinion that Route 66 is anything but bland, uninspiring, or dull.
As the race begins, you head out across a long causeway (or using the language of everyday normal people, a bridge) forming a huge U-turn to the left before it heads up into the high country, or in this case, the desert hills. There's plenty of room to work with here once you get over the rough ground-to-bridge transition, but watch the edge or you'll discover early on just how deep this waterway is - helicopter exit only. The last leg on the bridge allows you to build up respectable momentum before you're launched skyward up and off a nicely sized ramp that should satisfy fans of big air thrill seekers, but not demand that you switch out of cockpit view (if applicable). Here's where it gets exciting, because by now you've noticed the track's texture is a tad on the slippery side. What that means is if you want to be successful on this track, good timing & power sliding will become your new best friends lol. There are some who snub tracks of this type due to the difficulty in making the adjustment from tracks that provide for a sufficient amount of grip vs those that don't, as is the case here. Admittedly it takes a few laps to get used to, but when you do, it's a blast, and it provides for some really fun races as well.
The layout is certainly complex enough keep most racers' attention glued to the track, and running the course as is, you can expect to weave in and around some very nice terrain work ringing up laps of around 1:50 to 1:55. However, as with MTRA Farmland, it's riddled with cuts that collectively allow you cut the laps down to around 1:36, and in racing, 19-20 seconds is quite a bit of time. Our guess is Tarres had no idea his tracks were subject to being "taken apart" in such a way, but that's what pro racers do - they find the absolute quickest way from point A to point B - period. On some tracks, shortcuts actually negate the fun, cheapens the layout in a sense, but as with MTRA Farmland, Route 66 is quite enjoyable, possibly even more so with the shortcuts some might say. In lieu of detailing all the shortcuts taking you thru a verbal maze, a replay
of the track has been provided for your viewing enjoyment. It should give those who download the track a good idea of how the shortcuts are taken, but it should also serve as a learning tool for Tarres. He'll be able to see exactly where more checkpoints or perhaps effective use of landscaping could have closed off the shortcuts in this track. Well thought out model placement helps as well, but since he opted to forego inserting models, checkpoints and landscaping would have been his focus points. Since we've briefly touched on models, a few trees wouldn't have hurt the effect you "may" have been shooting for, which we can only assume is barren and desolate. Additionally, a few cacti or a little sagebrush would've been nice touches as well, or even a gas station given that this is, after all, Route 66. : ) Such additions would have significantly improved the track's appearance, and as previously noted, could have been instrumental in thwarting shortcuts.
Let's now turn our attention to the texture work. It's obvious that Tarres knows his way around a paint program and that he's acquainted himself with some of the finer technicalities of MTM 2 texture details. With that in mind, the question we asked ourselves is why he's allowed such glaring seams to show at many of the corner sections and at crossroads. Yes, these are just visuals but with a tad more attention to detail such blemishes could have been avoided resulting in a track that's perfect in terms of texture work. Another point we noticed is despite some fine terrain work, he's brought a few inclines too close to the road on a few corners. Not only is this a minor eye sore, but it slows (or at least impacts) the racer's ability to sometimes corner properly on what should be a much faster track overall.
Towards the end of the course, you eventually leave the hills and come back down to near sea level. The departure from the hills, just like the arrival, is by air. This time, however, the approach is a short series of ground box drops in the road until the last step (which is indeed a lulu), where you land on another causeway. This part is tricky enough when driving the track solo, but online… well, it might be best to cease & desist with any "scratch and bump" style of driving until after you're firmly back on terra firma or you just might find yourself swimming with the fishies rather than continuing a competitive race.
Wrapping it all up, there's no doubt that there's good racing to be had on Route 66; however, the biggest drawback here seems to be a lack of beta testing, which would most assuredly have picked up on the minor flaws that prevented this one from being a track that stands out among the crowd. Nevertheless, despite all the slicing and dicing due to shortcuts, it's a well-put together track with a good layout that's indicative of competent track making skills from a technical standpoint. As we've said before, we're looking forward to seeing how things progress with this newcomer.