• Replay: Castle Nugget
• Garage Settings: 1400 med tires/soft suspension
• Fast Lap to date: 1:53.27
I don’t know what it is about Rocketalces’ tracks that render me incapable of doing a timely review, but it’s quite a mystery that’s for sure lol. This one’s looooong overdue, and actually, it should have been the first one I cranked out upon my return to doing reviews, but some hack named HotShoe (SLO type) kept nagging at me, so I folded lol.
I love talking about tracks – good, bad, or middle of the road. Mind you, with respect to classifying tracks (good, bad, middle of the road) take what you read here with a grain of salt. I’m simply rendering an opinion. In the end you’ll have to assess each track for yourself, draw your own conclusions. Still . . . since this is my review and what I say goes lol. Ok back to business here – technical issues aside, there’s really no wrong way to make a track. Couple that with a guy or girl who’s willing to explore the outer limits of their imagination, and more often times that not you’ll come away with something special, just as we have here. Now, getting back to that opinion thing for a moment, as hard as it is for me to imagine, there are those who probably dislike tracks by Rocketalces. Ok so he thinks he’s a moose - big deal. In the end all I care about is their creativity and where it leads them with respect to this game. Yes, his tracks are demanding, and no, you’re not going to hop on one and start running hot laps after 2 or 3 minutes. You have to spend time with his tracks, in some cases learning a section at a time if you hope to come close to mastering them. I’m fairly certain that characteristic alone makes people want to hunt him down and make moose stew out of the guy lol. As far as I’m concerned his work is like money in the bank in terms of quality, style, workmanship, and creativeness. Having said that, my man Rocket went above and beyond with his newest release, which he dubbed, “Castle Nugget”
It’s . . . well, it’s different than anything he’s done to date, and in several ways it’s just plain different, but in a good way. He says in his readme.txt that he always wanted to make a city track. He’s got one under his belt now, and it’s one of the best ones around in my humble opinion. But before you draw any hard-fast conclusions based on tracks you’ve run with a city theme, this is Rocket we’re talking about, which means this is no ordinary, run-of-the-mill track. Need I remind you that the guy dresses up like a moose? I’ve run hundreds of tracks, thousands even (no really, I have lol), and this one’s definitely unlike anything I’ve seen in the past. For starters, it’s a 3-track deal; you get the “Race of Champs (ROC) Castle Nugget”, “Counterclockwise (CC) Castle Nugget”, & “Parking Practice (PP) Castle Nugget”. ROC CN is the primary track (if you will), with CC CN being the same track, but run counterclockwise, of course. PP CN is pretty cool, innovative, and definitely serves a purpose, which I’ll point out later.
At the start of ROC CN you’ll notice that your truck sits on a slant facing a big ‘ole TV monitor with what looks to be tons 'o gobbledygoop scrolling across it at warp speed. Believe it or not, that monitor represents a visual display of graphics being preloaded for the track as a means of minimizing lag and stutter. To learn more about that nifty little trick check out the pdf file he included in the zip. It explains it all in detail, and includes quite a bit of other info to boot! Getting back to race stuff, Rocket placed a gate at the bottom of the hill which starts to open approximately six to seven seconds after the game starts. Actually I timed it, and just as the game starts, if you count to 10 (one, one-thousand, two, one-thousand, etc.), starting your downward descent immediately after 10, one-thousand
, you’ll cross the gate line just as it drops below road surface. The key is to be consistent with your count. If you count too fast, you’ll get a face full of gate lol. He created such a unique start because he believes there’s little or no skill involved at the start of a race in MTM 2. As far as reflexes are concerned and getting “a jump” on your opponent, that’s true, however, all too often people try to win races from the start line. On a 2-lap rally where the laps are sometimes 5+ minutes long or a circuit where you’ll most likely run 4 laps or more, there’s no reason to push and shove your way out in front of everyone at the start. Granted, at times you’ll end up leading the pack by virtue of your position at the beginning of the race, but if that’s not the case, it’s usually more beneficial to steer clear of wrecks at the start, then work your way to the front. As for Castle Nugget, those who can time the opening of the gate the best AND
manage to avoid catastrophic collisions will fair better than your average reckless maniac trying to beat everyone to the punch. Since it's pretty much a given that everyone will be shooting out of that underground section almost simultaneously
, successfully avoiding a pile-up on this
track could be classified as “skill” lol.
One undeniable characteristic about Rocket’s tracks is that he makes you drive. I’m not talking about “cruising for 1.5 minutes, then sharp turn, semi-dangerous jump, then coast for another 45 seconds, and oh . . . watch that rock” kind of thing. I’m talking about d-r-i-v-i-n-g, and if you’re not prepared to be completely engaged for the duration of the ride, you might as well ride with someone who’s not such a wimp lol.
Ok now for the meat and potatoes part of Castle Nugget. He warms you up with a right-left-right sequence that unfolds into a semi circle thru a Shell
gas station. Why Shell? Heck if I know, and I’m not going to ask either lol. Once you’ve successfully navigated thru the narrow passages of the filling station and the ¼ turn out to the long straight just after checkpoint 2, enjoy the brief respite while you can. Embrace it, cherish it even, because after the right turn at the top of the hill at checkpoint 3, it’s time to get busy, real busy. As you make the right turn, stay close to the wall, then let off the gas shortly thereafter. Doing so will allow for a virtually straight shot
into the parking garage, negating the very tight left-right turn combination. If you’re the macho type and choose to ignore that advice, you’ll slam the front of your truck into the wall when the road pops you up in the air – guaranteed. Next up is a split, whereby you have the option to go left or right. Castle Nugget’s very unique start is ingenious as well as entertaining. I’d go so far to say that it pegs the meter on the “cool factor” scale. But I’m here to tell ya, the parking garage is definitely the feature attraction in my opinion. It’s a 3-level, dual road that allows you to actually see where your opponents are as you move through it. It consists of several hairpin turns, a mini slalom, and two somewhat challenging turns coming off of ramps. If you’re not proficient at powerslides, executing tight hairpin turns, maneuvering thru confined spaces, and throttle control, this section of the track is likely to inflict pain, anguish, and humiliation beyond the endurance of man lol. There’s no two-ways about it--it’s a very difficult section to navigate through, but with enough practice (hence the reason for PP Castle Nugget) you’ll soon look forward to entering the parking garage. Ok not really lol, but at least you’ll have acquired a little confidence when you get to it.
Immediately after exiting the parking garage you’ll come to the entrance of . . . well I’m not sure what to call it, but there’s a little trick to getting through the entrance way (of sorts) smoothly and quickly. At the point where the road changes from asphalt to cobblestone
, slightly pitch your truck to the left. The operative word is “slightly
”, for too much pitch will result in . . . bad things lol. It feels strange, awkward even to pitch your truck at that particular point because you would think such a move would send you head-long into the wall on the left. Well, actually it can, but again, if done correctly it positions you so that you're able to maintain your momentum as you move through that portion of the track. Next up are the stairs, which I also think are pretty darn cool, whether going up or down. As for ascending the stairs, be careful not to start the turn late. Notice in the replay that I started the turn early, and then allowed the stairs to do the rest of the work naturally, which placed me in perfect position to continue on to checkpoint 9. It’s actually harder than it looks to pull off correctly, so be sure and take your time until you feel comfy-cozy with it. Moving on, there are three
entry points/paths that ultimately lead to the aforementioned checkpoint . . . and not a one of them is easy lol. However, in my opinion the one at the very end
is the quickest and least hazardous. Enter it wide from the right, but stay tight against the left corner. Once again, like every other turn on this track, start early. Once you’re in, be prepared to execute several short, intense, rapid-fire half-turns. If you hesitate or start thinking too much, you’ll be eating brick . . . and it ain’t real tasty.
Finally there’s the hairpin
at checkpoint 10. This one’s pretty tricky, partly because it sweeps slightly down and away as you’re making the turn. Watch the replay and notice how I execute this particular section. It looks like I’m going to hit the wall given how early I initiate the turn, but my forward momentum carries me slightly past the wall. Once I’m half-way thru the turn, I drop it down to 1st gear to stabilize the truck and control its speed. From there it’s a relatively routine jaunt to the finish line . . . sort of lol.
Truth be told there's nothing routine
about this track, and for me that’s a big part of the allure. For the record, Rocket’s track making mastery extends far beyond making racers cry and spew out all sorts of socially unacceptable language. He’s extremely creative, and technically you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone that does it better. I highly encourage you to read the .pdf file he included with this track. Believe me, there’s a ton of information I purposely omitted, and it’s because Phin goes through every review and does what he calls a "text count". Is that nuts or what??? Anyway, I’m not going to divulge what my limit is, but I’m getting pretty dang close to it lol. So, to avoid yet another one of his little nastygrams in my inbox (Private Messages), I’ve cut this one short . . . believe it or not. But by all means have a look at that file; it’s full of information – how’s and why’s with respect to what I firmly believe is his best work to date. As for the Copey Rating, tracks with this guy’s name on it, much like tracks by a few other well-known track makers, are pretty much an automatic “10
Rocket, I know it’s long overdue man, but seriously - I tip my hat to you on this one, bud. It’s nothing short of stunning visually, and the ride is . . . well it’s hard lol, but I love it! It’s the kind of track that if no one ever runs it with me I’d still have a blast racing it solo. I love the layout and to be quite honest, by itself this baby is more than enough of a challenge, so you don’t really need anyone breathing down your neck to feel pressure.
For those who've never heard of this track, by all means give this one a go, then come tell us what you think. Sure, it might not be your cup of tea – that’s always a possibility, but then again, there's also the chance it'll become one of your all-time favorites!