Psygnosis have built up a real head of steam of late - their last half dozen releases have all been excellent, and I must admit that Gamer feared that record was coming to an end when we learned they were dabbling in the motorbike business again.
Thankfully though, it is noth another sim but a traditional racer - and make no bones about it, it is out to be number one.
Prime Mover was developed by Danish boffins Interactivision, and if the pre-release hype fuelled by themselves and Psygnosis is to be believed, we are faced with the fastest bike game ever. If this is the case then why the title? Surely an exciting barnstorming speed king of a game should be rewarded with a decidedly more catchy name. I mean, I personally cannot think of anything syitable, but then that is not my job is it? But not to worry - Prime Mover it is and Prime Mover it is going to stay, and besides, it is how the game plays which matters most. So without further ado, let us investigate.
Armed with your best leathers and sporting your favourite tattoos, you are very courteously provided with 12 tracks on which to race, and only one of these can be chosen at random when in another generally added feature - the practice mode. First though, a choice must be made as to which of the 12 riders you want to represent.
Now I do not know what it is with games of this sort, but whenever this kind of choice is offered, the motley array or riders always seem to comprise of an assortment of genetically mutated, inebriated extra terrestrials on acid. I am sure there must be some bikers who lead quite normal lives. But we digress... Choice of rider made - personally I prefer the woman with the muscles and the purple hair! - and it is off to the bike shop to select your machine from a choice of six.
All the bikes are quoted as having different weights, top speeds and handling abilities, although there is little advantage or disadvantage to detect when out on the track. Full race mode entails taking part in 12 races in various locations around the globe, with points for the winners and an overall accolade for the ultimate champion.
And indeed it is fast! Not sufficiently so to be hailed outright as the all-conquering, fastest ever bike racer, but plenty fast enough to coax the odd "ooh" or "aah" from onlookers.
The race locations range from the deserts of Australia and the rainy streets of England and Sweden to the cities of Mexico and the USA, and the programmers have done an excellent job in maintaining the game's speed while managing to pack a fair amount of detail into the screens.
One of the best features of top games such as RVF Honda, No Second Prize and even Road Rash to some extent, was that the number of competitors on the track made the whole affair a real challenge, with genuine satisfaction when a manoeuvre went right, and it is on this point where Prime Mover loses marks. Only seven competitors take part in each race, and although races are reasonably short - around four laps usually - relatively long periods of time can pass without encountering a soul.
Admittedly, the speed of the passing landscape and looseness of control ensure that complete concentration is a necessity for the most part, but it is the one-on-one competition in any race that raises excitement levels, and Prime Mover could and should have contained more, although the challenge is instantly doubled by selecting manual gears.
For example, it would be nice to have genuine selection of tracks, including hill climbs, motorways and others, and a two-player split screen option, if done properly, would really set a game apart.
Prime Mover is undoubtedly a quality product, sure to provide race fans with another few months of entertainment, but it will take another release of this kind, including some of the features mentioned above, before I sit up and begin to drool.