Mat Hoffman?s Pro BMX 2 Published by: Activision O2 Developed by: Gratuitous Games Ported to Gamecube by: Rainbow Studios ESRB Rating: T for Blood, Mild Lyrics, Violence
10 World Vert Titles. 1 Epic Road Trip. Over 90 Minutes of Outtakes and Live Action Video. 8 Enormous Levels populated with cars, pedestrians, helicopters and more.* Sounds pretty good, doesn?t it? The extreme sports genre took off after Tony Hawk debuted on the PS1 and the games that stemmed from this ended up multiplying more than a cell reproducing. The reason for the this was the accessability and playability of extreme sports titles, meaning that such games had an easy time in store for newbies and casual gamers, while the depth that fans and hardcore gamers wanted. The fact of the matter is that these games do not require a devotion to story or character development. They are literally pick up and play, like most racing games. While story is already beginning to factor into the extreme sports genre, one can only hope that the games stay true to their roots and don?t require a player to stay with the game for 80+ hours just to get to the good stuff. For the casual, extreme sports games only require a little play time to learn and appreciate the format. For the extreme sports enthusiast, each level is packed with secrets, hidden characters, new bikes or boards, basically anything a player could want in a game such as this. And completion of the game with all the characters unlocks even more for the dedicated?truly a task worth undertaking, yet not necessary for the enjoyment of a game such as this.
While there are some gameplay hindering graphical hitches, such a multi-colored freeze screen that occurred several times after a run the first day I got the game, there are very few major graphical flaws in this game. The only game I can really compare it to is THPS3, which uses the same graphics technology. The problem is really the camera, which stays too close, and thus causes the player to reset quite a ways away from where they crashed. This is especially hindering in some of the bigger environments in the game, which is accentuated by the fact that the game is timed, making it harder to get where you need to go and complete the goals in the allotted amount of time. Animation is spot on and superb. When you land a trick sloppy, your rider will wobble on his bike realistically, whereas if you land a trick perfectly then the bike will speed up and get more air. Flatland tricks are represented very well, as are all tricks, grinds, manuals, and stalls. In fact, when you land a stall successfully the rider will drop down very realistically and have no problem gaining more speed. Physics is a very realistic aspect of this game?to realistic one of my BMXing friends told me when he played the game. You see, some of the riders must be very precise with their riding and landing; if not, then the rider will slow down, and likely fall. However, without the overblown physics of the Tony Hawk series, the game?s replayability is seriously at stake. This is because the Tony games always lean toward a realistic/arcade approach to skateboarding, making skateboarding grounded firmly in reality, but still more extreme than it might otherwise be. While the physics do add to the challenge, BMXers looking for a more relaxing good time might best stick with Dave Mirra?s Freestyle BMX, a game where insane air and stunts spell B-M-X. Well, not really. But you get what I mean.
The good folks at Activision O2 went out of their way to make almost every aspect of this game grounded in reality, and this is no more evident when you look at how tricks are executed. While there are still some impossible tricks, like pulling a 360 Nothing (a trick where you spin three hundred and sixty degrees without holding onto the pedals or handlebars, or any part of the bike), there is nothing such as the No Handed Superman, which is quite possible to pull of in Dave Mirra?s game. This means, however, that when you do a Big Air Trick (generally preformed with the X button. There are a few notable exceptions.) you must have both feet on the pedals to land, otherwise, you will crash. Trust me. Each level has approximately 12 goals built into the gameplay, which seems kind of lackluster compared to Activision?s other extreme sports titles, as well as some competitor?s titles, like Aggressive Inline, which has 25 to 35 goals per level. It is especially disappointing to someone like me, who has molded their enjoyment in the genre with the amount of time one can spend with each level. Unfortunately, after two or three playthroughs of the first level, it might take you twenty minutes to complete the entire level, as compared to other games, where the first level will take much, much longer. One of the weaker types of goals in the game are the truly obnoxious fetch quests, which litter each level, and are worse than those in other sports titles. These vary from the weird (pick up 5 gas cans before time runs up) to the frusterating (get all 5 toll tokens before time runs up) to the dark (get all 5 voodoo dolls before time runs up). While the theme varies, the relativity of these goals are beyond some of the most hardened of players. Why, in a genre that has turned itself into a way of showing off the players and getting lazy kids interested in the sport, why does Activision throw this at us? This is what the gameplay boils down to, much to the dismay of myself, and other, lovers of this genre. It is a frusterating excursion through a road trip that, while cool to participate in, is just not showing off in front of crowds of people cheering your name. Rather, it is another franchise that has gone down the toilet, one of those games that you know has the potential for bigger things, but just can?t get the courage to do so on it?s own, and now must lean of Dave Mirra?s dedicated fans who know Hoffman was, and still may be, something in the video game world.
The soundtrack is crisp and clean sounding, but is littered with bands and artists that some may not even know about. These are songs that are from now back to 1977, which is when Iggy Pop?s song ?The Passenger? was released. You have eighties rap, seventies punk, pop, punk, some more rap?everything you could possibly think to be in a punk game is here.
Dang. It took me almost a day and a half to learn these hard controls. I still have some trouble with them. Solid, but difficult.
Here is the big draw of any extreme sports game. The lyrics in the games have always been questionable, and in the beginning comic mischief, which is like slapstick comedy, was a factor in most of the games. With the induction of THPS3, however, blood was introduced as an element, and sometimes even violence. Then came the suggestive themes descriptor, and finally strong language. None of the latter elements are acceptable, or necessary, in an extreme sports title. I think that the game should be fun without the so-called ?realism? of blood in games such as this, and the first two Tony Hawk and Dave Mirra games were great fun without the blood and gore that has polluted the genre. This isn?t as much of an element in Mat Hoffman, which is a defined blessing. The problem, however, still lies with the blood content descriptor. Even though you will really need to try and look for it in some of the game?s bad camera angles, it definitely is there. In a close-up camera angle, you can see blood splash, though it looks kinda brown, not red. In the normal view, you can see blood smear, though it is a light shade of maroon rather than red. It is an improvement over the last two Tony Hawk games and Aggressive Inline, but it still is noticeable; at the very least, developers should include an option to turn off the blood in the game. It is an objectionable element to an otherwise pretty clean game. Language is an element in some of the songs, but it is considered ?Mild Lyrics?. There are some mentions of common four-letter words, excluding the F-bomb that Dave Mirra?s game bleeped and slipped by with. In addition to this, there is some double entendre and sexual innuendo in some of the songs?luckily, there is a playlist so you can edit the songs you don?t like out, you just need to know what the songs are called. A descriptor that the game slipped by with was suggestive themes. In the New Orleans level, there are some scantily clad women that thank you for picking their necklaces up. Another objective in the New Orleans level is the one for picking up voodoo dolls. That?s like the only dark thing in this game. Overall, a pretty clean game with some flaws and dark spots, but it is worth playing. At least renting. Or buying, if you hate Blockbuster. *--From the back of the box.