[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/probmx2/cover.jpg[/floatleft]I have a deep love for what are often times referred to as aggressive sports. BMX, skateboarding, and rollerblading all make me anxious to be 17 again. The Tony Hawk games do a fantastic job of quenching my thirst for rolling very fast on a tiny board with 4 tiny wheels. Likewise I figured Mat Hoffman Pro BMX 2 might quench my thirst for another type of outdoor activity.
I have spent very little time playing BMX games in comparison with skateboarding games and it didn’t take very long to notice the fact that maybe there are certain sports that are just too complicated to be made into video games. Before I offend all the fans of the BMX games I want to set the record straight. I have no intimate knowledge of the world of BMXing, but I do of skateboarding. Maybe this in and of itself makes the latter easier for me to play.
There are a few different gametypes that aim to keep it fresh in this title. You have your basic story mode called Road Trip, Free Ride, and Session which comes in 2, 5 or 10 minute flavors. We also have the Multiplayer mode that packs its own list of modes that range from Trick Attack, Push, and Free Ride to Treasure Hunt. I find multiplayer in extreme sports games to be a great waste of time since they are by and large individual sports, but I digress.
There are a few major things that I felt were missing from Pro BMX 2 that have been included in other games from Activision that would have added to the experience. The main feature would have to be the lack of a “create a rider”. Tony Hawk had this and it really made the game more personal as you progressed with your character. Another annoyance would have to be the fact that unlocking the different cities in the Road Trip mode was individual. What I mean by this is that unlocking it with Mat Hoffman didn’t unlock it for any of the other riders. While I can see this being logical in a career mode where you follow your created rider, I think it is a little silly this time around.
The gameplay is actually quite solid in this title. I enjoyed cruising through the different courses and busting out wicked tricks, but I had a lot of trouble landing them. Landing goofy footed in skateboarding may be difficult in real life but none of the games seem to emphasize that fact. Landing backwards on a bicycle after pulling a 540 tabletop seems to result in a crash 99.9% of the time. You really have to plan out your tricks and execute them precisely as opposed to just making up runs as you go. This resulted in some initial frustration as I learned to handle the bike but seemed to get better over time.
The detail in the levels as well as the character detail was quite nice. It was very easy to tell the different riders apart and identify them if you know your riders. I got to play the PS2 version so you can expect a slight improvement in the visuals on the GC and Xbox versions. A nice break in between cities was a short clip of some of the riders really going to town in an actual cross country tour. Nice stuff and it seemed to be just the right amount of video playing in between levels.
One aspect that Activision’s extreme sports titles always seem to deliver on is the soundtrack and Pro BMX 2 is no exception. It rocks the house with hits from groups like N.E.R.D. and Fugazi as well as rap stars LL Cool J and Ice T.
I had a lot of fun playing Pro BMX 2 and I think it is a really solid game, but I feel like the BMX games still need a little more refinement. They don’t seem to be as polished as the Tony Hawk series which I know is on its 5th or 6th release, but I have a feeling the next Pro BMX game will be awesome. At $19.99 new or $10 used fans of BMX have no reason to not be tearing up the ramps at home.