Mal releasing a track is always a special event to me. I remember when back in 2002 I started browsing mtmg.com
for add-ons. Not knowing where to start I randomly picked half a dozen files from the track list, which was in alphabetic order by default. The download took considerable time in that pre-DSL era and after that I was soon convinced that it was not worthwhile to ever
come back to this site. Apparently it was the meeting place for would-be track builders incapable of making decent circuits: everywhere misaligned textures, landscapes looking like chessboards, triangular mountains, horrible colors, invisible walls, trees set to collide-facing, etc, etc, etc. The last of my downloads was Arctic Wasteland, a title even less promising than the moderately fascinating tracks I had tested so far. What could I seriously expect from a guy calling himself Malibu350?? Five minutes later I granted Malibu the status of "track-making genius", a status he has never lost since. It was sheer luck that he released a track with a name beginning with „A“ that year, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this, lol.
At this point I can see some shaking their heads and asking: Is this guy writing his memoires or what? Why in this forum? Why in this thread? And who cares anyway?
Well, these persons may not know professor Pescolo, dean of Track Reviewer's School. He keeps saying:
Always start a track review with a lengthy introduction. The less related to the topic, the better.
According to his standards my introduction is rather on the short side but I'll nevertheless move right now to the heart of the subject.
The track gets its name from the astronomical observatory you drive around. The building is extremely well designed (I love buildings) with texture work up to par. Actually the Big Whiskey Observatory is so beautiful you almost feel ashamed to vandalize the lawn around it with your monster truck. Well, almost.
And of course if you haven’t done it yet, make sure you see the Rubik cube.
Being easy on the eyes is one thing, but being fun to race another. How does Big Whiskey do in that respect?
It is a wide, relatively smooth and over 4 minutes long high-speed track. All of this gives you a pleasant feeling of space. The track looks easy and in some respect it is. Finding your way around the track is painless, you don’t have to worry about finding short cuts, and there are indeed no places where you have to wonder how to get through without crashing. But it is not that easy to be fast. Breaking the 4:10 barrier will require some practice laps. And to get down to UltraMax's range (4:07.85) some more.
Let us look at some of the driving challenges Mal has spiced up his track with:
The tight turn at CP3
It is not obvious to figure out what the best line could be, and then it’s still not obvious to drive it. Because of the entry speed of well over 100 MPH the timing of steering and throttle control must be right on the spot. Any correction here will result in a significant loss of speed and time.
On the way to CP4 there is an interesting jump where the truck invariably tends to get sideways after landing. You better hurry to point the nose of your truck into the right direction for the most slippery corner of the whole track to follow.
An innocuous looking banked 270° turn around a pond. It is tricky because of the high entry speed and the following uphill section which penalizes low exit speed.
A series of strategically placed bumps you better know, like the one before the right-hand bend between CP13 and 14.
It is true that between the challenging parts you are given some rest while cruising on smooth straights.
Pushing like a maniac and taking every risk will gain you no more than 5 seconds per lap compared to a reasonably safe & sane drive. This means the first priority in a race is to avoid crashes and other incidents, the second to be steady. Because once the guy in front has a 10 sec time cushion to manage, he will drive the baby home (unless the remaining race distance is really long compared to MTM2 standards).
On the other hand the range of possible gear sets should provide additional thrill during online races. Completely different settings allow similar total lap times, but with very different section times. While 2000ms will not be very pleasant to drive on the medium-speed and uphill sections (e.g. CP6 to CP7) the speed difference with a plain vanilla 1600ms is quite spectacular on the fast straights. Speaking for myself, I can drive low 4:08 with ms1700 to ms2000. In the end, the chosen setting is merely a matter of individual preferences and driving styles. I thus expect races to happen between people being faster on different sections of the track.
[Hint for newbies
: try 2000ms and a truck like Overkill. The long gear and the long wheel base of the truck both make it easier to control the slides without losing much momentum.]
Looking forward to do some serious racing on this track
Golden Antler Award