For all intensive purposes SMP Creations is comprised of novice track makers, but I’ll tell you what, if you were working with them you’d never know it. The mental image that comes to mind when I think of Mike (SMP_Mouse) and Jeff (OLD_Coach98) are two guys walking around a very elaborate and technical oriented facility wearing lab coats, carrying clipboards with a dozen pens and mechanical pencils in their upper left coat pocket. Ok maybe that visual image is a bit much, possibly more indicative of my overactive imagination, but still, the fact is these guys are consummate professionals – period. I for one think their approach to track making sets a standard that should be adopted by every new track maker, and it wouldn’t hurt the skilled veterans, either. No one person knows it all or sees it all, thus, a few extra eyes will typically yield a better final product.
If you read the review on Paris To Dakar you’re familiar with how they work. If not, I’ll run it down for ya real quick, and it’s so simple it’s almost…ingenious! Instead of throwing a track together and hustling up a few people out of the main in the Scenic Route game room to try their track, and end up with feedback like “good stuff” or “yeah, it’s ok”, then list their names in the readme as “beta testers”…these guys went out and did a by-name request of the people they wanted, then asked those same people to name a few highly qualified track makers/racers to round out the group. In the end they recruited 7 beta testers in all, and they are as follows: Malibu350, Phineus, SLO_Jumper, SLO_BRO_USA, RIP_Maniac_, _AlG_ and myself. Definitely a lineup of heavy-hitters, and every one of the aforementioned members of this handpicked beta testing team are highly experienced racers and track makers - professionals in every sense of the word. Believe me, these guys (SMP Creations) would have it no other way.
Rodent Run #2 is the sequel to Rodent Run #1. Yeah, I know that’s not a profound statement by any means, but I’m trying to set up my lead-in, so cut me some slack! Much like its predecessor, and even more so, this track has one primary ingredient: pure, uncut speed. Ok sure, they threw a pinch of finesse here and there, but even with that it’s still 95% high velocity stuff. Their goal was to create a “racer’s track” that didn’t require a major learning curve. Any pro will be able to perfect this track in just a few runs, but rest assured, this baby will always give you highly competitive, super fast races, which translates into big, big fun.
The track itself consists of dirt/paved combinations, but it’s mostly comprised of dirt roads. It’s not heavily inundated with models for the sheer purpose of accentuating visual appeal, and that’s ok, because at the speed you’ll be traveling, there wouldn’t be much time to look at that stuff anyway. What I do like is how they positioned two 18-wheelers so that racers can have an alternate means of continuing on without conceding ground to another racer. Specifically, you have the option of going on either side of the trucks, but you incur a substantial risk going left as opposed to staying on the right because of the limited availability of road space. It’s an extremely tight fit, but very “do-able”, which adds to the overall excitement this one gives you. Again, the scenery is sparse, but I will say the air balloons were kind of a surprise, and a nice one at that. The last time I saw balloons of that sort in a track was on “Alps 2” – and old classic. They’re just not used that often, and I find that somewhat…well, strange. The flowers were put in especially for Phineus. I’m not entirely sure what the deal was with that. The guy must have a thing about flowers or something (who knows with him). Hehe I thought Tulips would’ve been a better choice, but hey…I’m just a racer - what do I know?
On one hand you could make the case that Rodent Run #2 pales in comparison to “Paris To Dakar”, and it does. But no one expects these guys to take on gargantuan projects every time out. The goals they set for this track were limited in scope, but they definitely got the most out of what they were after in my opinion. Let me put it this way; from rookies to pros alike, if you don’t enjoy the “hang on to your hat” pace after runnin’ this baby, someone better check your pulse. There just aren’t many short tracks around with this kind of sustained speed, and on top of that it flows very, very well. Oh, and for those of you who like big air, there’s something in it for you as well!
I have to admit, it’s tough being a beta tester for these guys, then coming in here and rating their tracks. It’s not like I can slam em, you know. I mean, if I had something to say objectively it should come up in the beta testing process. I may have to get with my lawyers to rethink my position here, but in the mean time, this one gets a “Copey Rating” of…. 9 out of 10 points! Nope, there’s not much to see, and it’s definitely not complex by any stretch of the imagination, but none of that matters. It provides for fast and furious racing with an emphasis on maximizing fun and excitement. I think they more than met their goals.
Great job, fellas – outstanding! And I’d be remiss in my social graces if I didn’t thank you for the billboard with the names of all the beta testers. Class act, and it’s very much appreciated. I will say the font size on Malibu’s name seems to be somewhat larger than the rest of ours. What gives with that? Guess I’ll add that to the list of things to discuss with my lawyer. Hehehe once again, excellent track, Mike and Jeff!!
[This message has been edited by SLO_COPE (edited 15-05-2002).]