Garage Settings: 1300 med tires/soft suspension
Lap time: 2:12
Rocketalces is a name that may be well known by the time this Expo is a wrap. His workmanship and ability since his inaugural track, LaPaLu, has improved threefold, and if those words mean little or nothing to you, we encourage you to judge for yourself. As for LaPaWop, its premise revolves around an elk & moose bar that appears to be the centerpiece of a racing track, one that caters to elk and moose (of all things lol). The race begins just outside the front doors of the bar and takes you through a short, but very scenic countryside tour before turning abruptly to the right, heading up to, and thru a residential area…presumably inhabited by moose or elk. After passing a sanitarium, the spa, and Replica Fan's garage, your next encounter is with an attention grabbing slalom known as the "elk test" (We'll comment more on this particular section later. For now we'll continue on thru the track). Shortly after weaving thru the elk test, you'll come upon another hard right turn, entering what looks like a granary, but is referred to as the "arena". In any case, it's arguably the most intense section of the track with a toboggan, excruciating, turn-on-a-dime corners, and obstacles in the form of bridge support poles. The toboggan is interesting in that Rocket saw fit to build in a fail-safe of sorts. A tight, hairpin succeeds the end of the toboggan, and if you accidentally swing wide to the left, there's a roadway underneath to allow for recovery in order to continue on through the "arena" and to the end of the race. By the way, if you happen to be taking some practice laps on this track, and trust me, practice is a good thing
when it comes to this beast (stated with warm affection, mind you lol)...but if you are running a few solo laps, when you need a break, after the jump-off near the end of the track, go straight-ahead past the Elk Bar and drive up on the ridge. When you get to the top of the ridge, there's a flat spot you can drive on; go left, and come to a stop
just before the hill starts downward. You may have to wait 15 - 20 seconds after stopping, but after two to three laps we're quite sure you'll need the rest lol. What you'll see are...well heck, check it out for yourselves, why don'tcha! What we will say is "well done, Rocket!!"
To borrow a term typically associated with music (jazz specifically), one could best sum up this track as "off-tempo". There's never a moment of consistent, all-out acceleration or an opportunity to establish a rhythm, and that sensation is predominant right off the starting line up to the very end of the race. The combination of LaPaWop's complexity and Rocket's choice of textures and models is what makes this such a fun track to run. It's difficult and demanding, yes, but the layout is so interesting and compelling that it keeps you going back for more, and as we mentioned, it's certainly easy on the eyes.
(or elk test) Rocket created using the road barriers did come under fire from a few of our judges. Most felt he could have done without it, yielding a slightly smoother flowing track. Moreover, the slalom seemed unnatural and without purpose, but if you read the "Mooseweek" article included with the track, it explains that the slalom's purpose is to force drivers to use evasive actions in the event a real moose happens onto the road. Stretching the limits of reality you say? Maybe, but the fact is some people will love it (the slalom)…and then there are those who'll wish they had a couple sticks of dynamite handy in order to clear out that passage entirely lol. There is a technique to getting past the barriers with pretty respectable speed, however. Three of the biggest keys are to make a smooth approach, stay in tight on the barriers, and turn early. Trying to burst through there like John Wayne or Steve McQueen will only net you trouble-trust us on that one lol.
Control and patience should be the watchwords of any driver taking on LaPaWop, and in no other section of the track do those words mean more than in the arena. It's without a doubt the showpiece of the track, but it's also the place that can have you in tears in 2 minutes flat lol. The tone is set right from the start as you enter because you have to slow to a snail's pace in order to clear the very low overhead. From here the progression is a heal & toe style of driving with lots of "give it a little gas here and a bit of brake there," adding to the excitement as one judge put it.
Technically, Rocket dotted the "I's" and crossed the "T's". As one judge noted, with the exception of a few minor tiling errors (such as here
), everything was very well done. The number of altitude changes in such a small area is noteworthy, collision boxes were set to perfection, and the AI lines are lines are topnotch-the best they can possibly be. Now let's talk trees for second. We noticed that the small trees
are set to collide just as the larger ones are. It's not an error or flaw, but rather a matter of preference; however, it's considered "the norm
" to set the smaller trees to no collide. Realisitically trees of that size shouldn't stop a monster truck, but again, it's a matter of personal preference.
Lastly, we absolutely must comment on Rocket’s pet peeve--the game's maximum viewing distance (which is about 20 grid squares, or 640 feet). He attempts to defeat it by forming the environment in such a way that the terrain and models are rendered before you see them, the result being that you would never know the game even has a view distance limitation, since nothing pops suddenly into view out of nowhere. His goal was flawlessly achieved in this track.
Rocket can justifiably be considered a newcomer to the track making scene, but make no mistake, he's definitely one to watch. He relishes the struggle of trying to achieve track-making perfection just as much as he loves authoring challenging courses for racers to enjoy…and sometimes hate lol. He's a unique guy with a fresh approach and style, and those qualities serve only to strengthen the MTM 2 community. Very well done, Rocketalces!