When I started doing track reviews here at MTMG I never really thought about getting an opportunity to review a new track by a guy who is arguably THE greatest track maker of all time. Needless to say here I am, and after running ZEP2 Stuart, I couldn’t wait to get to a point in my schedule where I had time to sit down and drop a few lines about the one and only ZooN! Unfortunately my schedule never really allowed me such an opportunity…so I simply put off the 14 errands my wife wanted me to run today (on my day off, no less!) so that I could do what “Copey” wanted to do! : ) Hey, living dangerously has always come easy to me. Hehehe
According to ZooN, this track originally started out as a sequel to ZooN
Euro Park with the same look and feel, but with different road textures. He had a change of heart, however, and opted to take this track in a different direction. When it comes right down to it though, I don’t think it really makes a difference; if it says ZooN on the cover, you know it’s gotta be a winner, and this one will most assuredly please every ZooN fan out there. For those rare households where his name isn’t held in reverence, my guess is after sampling this one that’ll likely change.
From the onset one does get the feel of a Euro Park kind of ambiance with the snowy mountains, coloring, and various other landscaping qualities. But that’s where it ends, for ZEP2 is 90% paved (blacktop), as opposed to the different road textures you saw in Euro Park. Furthermore, there are no death defying leaps and jumps, but what it does have is what I call a pro racer’s layout. It’s a fast-paced track that provides ample room for up to four racers (2X2), but ideal for one-on-one racing with plenty of bumping and banging room. In addition to the superb layout he’s put together with winding roads, some rather precarious turns with varying elevation changes, this, like many of Malibu350’s Evo 4X4 – MTM 2 conversions (but not nearly as extreme), is the kind of track you have to “think” your way through. It doesn’t afford you wide-open lanes for passing an opponent, and there are times when you’ll have to position yourself directly behind the opposing racer in order to execute a turn or traverse a winding part of the course. The key is knowing when and where to employ such strategies and positioning techniques, which is what separates the real pros from those who just go real fast…til they ultimately crash. Make no mistake - this track will definitely bring out a pro racer’s best or worst, but in the end everyone will enjoy the experience.
One other quality worth noting about the road texture, and that is it’s not set to cement, in which case you would use shallow tires. This stuff is kinda slippery, slightly more so than one would expect. In a sense it serves only to make ZEP2 Stuart that much more distinctive, distancing it from the hordes of other blacktop tracks out there. That shouldn’t come as a real surprise, however, because as most of you know, ZooN is anything but mundane and ordinary.
I’m not much into what’s technically correct and what isn’t, although I have learned quite a bit from beta testing with Phin and Mal, but here’s a real simple way to make some comparisons on your own. Crank your graphics card up full-blast then take a leisurely stroll around this track. Go through the mountains, where you’ll most likely come across an unmarked track, and simply take it all in, the visual details I mean. Now hop on any other track...preferably something with mountains and snow, and I guarantee you’ll see a radical difference. With MUCH respect to all the other track makers, I for one share the opinion that ZooN tracks are the standard by which all others are measured by, and that’s just the way it is!
The “Copey Rating” is pretty much moot here. This guy has proven time and again that he personifies brilliance where track making is concerned. ZEP2 Stuart is definitely a “10” – that was pretty much a given with ZooN’s name on it. What I’m hoping for is to see him sign onto the Zone sometime soon, maybe sign some autographs, do some promo photographs with the fans, and just kind of hangout with some of the fellas. If not, hey – we’ve still got ALL of his tracks to enjoy, right?
ZooN, I salute you, bud. The impact your work has had on MTM 2 is nothing short of phenomenal, and even though most of your tracks were made years ago, they’re still extremely popular to old and new racers alike. Great, great stuff, and I hope you continue to “wow” us with your talent for making superb add-on tracks for this game.
[This message has been edited by SLO_COPE (edited 05-06-2002).]