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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Extreme Sports

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Rainbow Studios

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

September 2002

 

 

- Some wicked BMX action

- Covers all the standards of Activision’s O2 division

- Much challenge and fair-sized levels

- Some good multiplayer

- Great animation

 

 

- Objectives aren't all that original

- Progression too linear

- Pull-your-hair-out difficult at times to maintain control

 

 

Review: Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2 (Playstation 2)

Review: Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2 (XBox)

Review: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (Gamecube)

 

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Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

It would be quite easy to slap Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX 2 (MH2) with the usual high score that accompanies any of Activision’s O2 games.  And the obvious (and justified) comparisons with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series would make it even easier.  This is exactly the attitude I took with me as I began playing MH2 and it’s most likely the reason I got so frustrated – bailing constantly is a great way to show off crash animations but it does little for creating an enjoyable experience.

 

mat-hoffman-pro-bmx-2-gc-1.jpg (109668 bytes)          mat-hoffman-pro-bmx-2-gc-2.jpg (116391 bytes)

 

Part of the problem is the sheer number of possible tricks and combos, which comes from MH2’s aim to be a BMX simulator rather than pure arcade action.  I like having a wide assortment of trick options but with the many, many moves – aerial, grinding, flatland, manual – mastering all of them is a virtual impossibility.  Pile on top of that the ability to link tricks together and you get a game that definitely can’t be played while under the influence.  I always got into trouble when I thought about doing a move – mostly I had to get into the correct groove and just go on instinct and reflex.  A few times I had a sense of “lost time” – something often reported by victims of alien abduction.  Suddenly the run would be over and I’d just sit there blinking, trying to piece together what happened in the last 2 minutes.  To MH2’s credit, the roster of moves is not impenetrable; it just takes a lot of practice (and concentration) to get the hang of things. (And if you've played any of the other versions, unlearning the control schemes then learning it for GameCube is actually pretty quick.)

 

And a lot of practice you’ll get thanks to the method of progression during the single-player mode, Road Trip.

 

Each city has an objective list broken up into three categories: Rookie, Semi-Pro and Pro.  The main problem with this setup is that you have to complete, in full, the Amateur objectives before unlocking the Semi-Pro objectives.  This is in sharp contrast with a game like Aggressive Inline, which allows you free-roam for as long as you want and completing objectives at your leisure.  For MH2, this means a lot of forced run-throughs if you can’t fill the objectives – and fill the objectives you must, otherwise you’ll never acquire enough Road Trip points to access all the cities.  The other problem is that some objectives are downright vague with plenty of guesswork involved trying to figure out what the hell you’re supposed to do.

 

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As the “crusade” continues, Jimmy has to navigate many different environments such as a German U-boat, the war-torn countryside, and a bridge rigged with high explosives.  Thankfully, the story – involving Nazi development of jet aircraft – is such that progression makes logical sense and levels aren’t as disjointed as they could have been.  The environments suffer a little (in terms of replay factor) in their very linear approach, but it does help with creating some very tight and well-designed levels that keep the framerate humming while offering plenty of eye-candy.

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The design and layouts of the cities is good for the most part, with lots of rails, objects to jump off of, and areas to access.  The cities you visit on the Road Trip are Boston, Oklahoma City (where the trip starts), New Orleans, Las Vegas, Chicago, Hawaii, L.A. and Portland.  All the levels afford plenty of detail and extra goodies to find – another hallmark of Activision’s O2 games.

 

I’ve never understood the compunction of publishers and developers to hype the music tracks of a game.  I don’t know if it saves any money as it relates to the development cycle (probably not), but I’m sure it saves time, not having to develop their own tunes from scratch; however, I digress.  There are only two tracks in MH2 that didn’t make me want to turn the music completely off.  But music is one of those “eye of the beholder” aspects that people like to argue about until the cows come home.  Just turn the music off, the sound effects are extremely slick and I only have good things to say about them.

 

With MH2’s emphasis on tricks – duh! – the animation has received much care and attention.  Even subtly different tricks look great, especially the flatland wheeling and dealing.  Everything moves fluidly and the transitions between tricks are also smooth.  Also good are the aforementioned wipeouts and crashes – with the bike going one way and the rider going the other, crumpling into a ball and leaving bloody skid marks.  However, I would have liked some more extreme crashes.  I’ve been witness to poorly executed BMX tricks and most of them result in the bike and rider being tangled in very excruciating, yet interesting, ways.  I suppose my logic boils down to, “Extreme sports should have extreme injuries.”  I’m not talking, Soldier of Fortune injury levels, but still a broken leg or two might liven things up – or at least a character model that reflects all the punishment you’re putting him through.

 

mat-hoffman-pro-bmx-2-gc-3.jpg (113324 bytes)          mat-hoffman-pro-bmx-2-gc-4.jpg (90112 bytes)

 

Multiplayer showcases a new mode – PUSH.  Basically, you face off against a human opponent and attempt to complete higher-scoring tricks.  Each successful trick shrinks the opposing player’s screen size.  This works extremely well and is a decided highlight.  The standard Trick Attack, Tag, HORSE, and graffiti are also included.

 

One of the neat features of MH2 is the home video cutscenes during the Road Trip.  It gives a look into the BMX culture as opposed to just showcasing a particular rider or a bunch of agonizing wipeout clips.

 

All told, Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX 2 is a good game, with plenty to do and see, in the single-player and multiplayer modes, throughout its huge levels – all the criteria of an O2 game.  Although the controls are responsive, they’re far from easy to learn (even harder to master but less so if you've spent time with the other versions), especially if you’re just getting into the pool of extreme sports.  While I might not classify MH2 as a “must buy” you can’t go wrong with a rental to see if it turns your crank.

 

- Omni

(November 13, 2002)

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