Gamestyle Archive Intro: well I never, here’s another review from the Marquis De Sade himself. Dating from around August 2002, here he relives his childhood bike fantasty.
Pity me. In my youth, I spent many an hour learning to ride a bike the hard way. Not that I was performing handstands whilst steering the bike, I hasten to add – that’s for Wave Race afficionados. Instead, my parents sadistically bought me a Raleigh Chopper. The bike that when you fell off, you required two firemen and a blanket to catch your fall. The bike that had all of the turning cicle prowess of a juggernaut, and the bike that, most worryingly, was mocked at by many a schoolkid, as they’d upgraded to BMX’s, whilst I had painfully remained in the 70’s. But thanks to the wonders of videogame entertainment, I can now forget about the past, and make up for that lost time, courtesy of Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX 2.
From the stable of Activisions’ O2 series, Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX 2 (MHPB2) is insantly recognisable to those who have played other ‘extreme’ games such as the eponymous Dave Mirra or Tony Hawks. Sadly, the game offers nothing new, as if content to offer more of the same. After a lengthy FMV opening (you know the drill; ‘dudes’ performing ‘zany’ stunts) accompanied by the dulcet tones of Iggy Pop, the main menu is presented with the usual options: Road Trip (the story mode), Session (an imposed time limit to rack up as much points as possible), Free Ride and Multiplayer. A park editor is included too, and it won’t take long for any budding creators out there to conjure up a decent park. Road Trip is the core of the game, and from here, you choose from one of the ten ‘real’ BMX’ers (though more can be unlocked), as you make you way across the ‘States, demonstrating your prowess.
Predictably, only one area is unlocked at the beginning, and in order to move to other locations, you have to amass ‘trip points’, which are gained via completing objectives on each level, as well as fancy combos. One each level is cleared, its onto the Hoffman’s tour bus, and a brief, documentary-style FMV clip is shown, highlighting the man himself, along with his friends commenting on the scene etc, and these are actually quite interesting. And it’s here that the lack of imagination is severley evident. Chanllenges range from attaining so many points, to collecting gas cans, or hitting switches etc. Many of the challenges are therefore simply a memory test, and lack any zest. As is usual with many of the ‘extreme’ games, a time limit of two minutes is imposed for each run, so there’s not much time to get used to the levels intricacies (though this is alleviated by the Free Ride option).
MHPB2 is playable enough, although biking feels more inflexible compared to skateboarding, and it does take a while before any decent combos can be racked up. Graphically, it’s a mixed bag. The bikers themselves are detailed, and instantly recognisable for the enthusiasts out there, and the bikes move with convincing grace, and for a game that requires a lot of precision, the frame rate is thankfully very fluid. But the levels are drab, and lacking in real detail. Colours are washed out, and textures are simplistic. There’s no doubting that Microsoft’s console could handle far more than what is thrown at it here. If the game had been designed with the Xbox solely in mind, one would’ve expect prettier visuals.
As for the music, well you can expect the usual smattering of nu-metal, angst-ridden tunes, but if it’s not to your taste, tracks from your hard disk can be used instead.(which oddly, cannot be selected from the main menu, but from pasuing in-game). The sound effect are convincing, though hardly outstanding. And therein lies the problem with MHPB2. It reeks of mediocrity. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, nor is there anything that’s going to grab your attention. Whilst there is always a curiosity as the next levels design, you know that you’ll be still trying to complete the same challenges, and it’s all a bit tedious. Designing your own park offers a little more longevity, but the game remains rather sterile.
It goes without saying that if you enjoy your ‘extreme’ games, then enjoyment will be gained for those who like to rack up high-scoring combos and manuals, but for anyone about take their first plunge in the genre, the best bet looks likely to be Tony Hawks Pro Skateboarding 4.
Gamestyle Score: 6/10