I’ve “threatened” to start trimming the fat off my reviews in an effort to 1.) Allow time for reviewing older tracks I feel are deserving of recognition, 2.) Enable me to quickly review recently released tracks, and 3.) Scout out new track makers I feel show promise and potential. Needless to say I haven’t held up to my end of the deal very well where shortening the length of my reviews is concerned…and I know that’s not news to anyone that reads these things lol. It’s just once I get started, one thing leads to another, and before I realize it, I’ve cranked out 1.5 pages in no time flat lol. Well, I’m now committed to my vow of brevity…within reason, I mean. I wouldn’t want to be as concise and to the point as say…Phineus; that would probably just annoy people, tick ‘em off lol. With that said, I’ll start my brief, succinct, and to the point reviews AFTER this one. Hehe I have a few things to say about this baby, so hey, let’s give Malibu’s latest the old once-over, shall we?
I honestly expected there would be a slight drop in Mal’s enthusiasm and desire for making conversions, resulting in a subtle decline in quality, which of course, would’ve been understandable and very human. I mean, the guy has cranked out 12 of these things now, and he’s not missed a trick or lost a step…at all! Heck for all I know maybe “Malibu350” is some souped-up computer “posing” as a human lol. Has anyone ever actually talked to Mal? If so, and you thought to yourself that his voice reminds you of an answering machine or intercom system…bingo!
Ok enough of that malarkey; let’s get back on track (no pun intended…but it’s kinda cool, huh? lol). According to Mal, “Skull Islands” has parts from EVO’s “Baja Beach” and “Skull Islands mission tracks” (what are those, add-ons?), however, the layout is completely original. In other words, there is no such track (stock) in EVO 1 or 2 called “Skull Islands”. For starters, if this track were a girl, I’d be asking her out for a date one microsecond after laying eyes on her…if I weren’t married, that is lol. It’s something to behold that’s for sure. The long shoreline drive on this tropical paradise is absolutely beautiful. You can’t help but enjoy the view, take it all in…until you slam into a huge boulder, that is. If you bring up the map, you’ll immediately take note of the long straights, which might prompt thoughts such as boring, mundane, and even uninspired. Ah, but some things are not necessarily what they appear to be! Mal’s thrown in boulders, several dips, a couple of downed planes, an old shipwrecked monstrosity, fishing huts, along with a few water traps. The bridges connect smaller, surrounding islands to the “main” island, which I thought was pretty innovative and distinctive. Suffice to say the experience of racing (or crashing) on “Skull Islands” is most enjoyable, but it’s certainly not as easy as the map makes it appear.
I like how he used the rocks/boulders (obviously the “Baja Beach” influence), forcing racers to think before getting airborne about where they’ll land, and which path to use in order to take advantage of “potentially” quicker routes through the boulders. I also love the bridges – especially the slightly submerged, side-by-side bridges. Heck I even like the busted one lol. He threw in a very nice change up, taking you thru a cave on one of the smaller islands via the mouth of a skull (no less), which takes the track’s path inland a bit where you’ll encounter beautiful plush green surroundings, a huge pyramid-like structure, and lots of tall palm trees (what do they feed those things?). After a short drive on “the green” you’ll hop on another bridge that takes you back to the beach on the main island heading for the finish line. Incidentally, you exit the cave thru the mouth of a skull as well. I thought that was a nice little touch on his part.
Just in case there are few doubters out there who thought Mal’s ability to create had eroded since undertaking the task of converting prefabricated tracks over to MTM 2 from EVO 1&2, I’m here to tell ya – he’s still got it! His sense of what constitutes a very good racetrack is as sharp as ever, and he’s arguably at his very best right now where track making is concerned. His tracks are challenging & well suited for competitive races, and he enhances the package with killer layouts and eye-massaging visual effects that are truly something to be seen and appreciated.
There’s not much to say with respect to objective criticism. I did notice a hut located at checkpoint 2 (on the right) is slightly, ever so slightly off the ground. Moles no doubt--couldn’t be Mal’s fault lol. What blows me away about this guy (or automaton lol) is how accurate and mistake-free his tracks are. To my knowledge he (it) doesn’t use beta testers…not as a rule, so given all the detailed work that go into making tracks of this caliber, I’m genuinely amazed at his level of quality, to include his excellent texture and model work as well.
This one’s off the chart (in a good way) on the old “Copey Rating” scale, but for our purposes it’s a slam-dunk “10” of a track. Great racing, lots to see, and after all that, if you want to do a little fishing, you can walk out on the pier or hop into one of the many huts which will afford you a comfortable place to hold up in while doing so. Geez, does this track have it all, or what? An absolutely superb job, Mal—great, great stuff, bud…even if you are a machine lol.
Edited (06-10-2002) by SLO_COPE