December 23, 2000
Tony Hawks Pro Skater brought a new style of sports games to the public, extreme sports. Sure there have been attempts extreme games in the past (snowboarding has ben the most successful) but nothing came close to Tony Hawk's for freedom, gameplay and excitement. However Z-Axis decided that they could go one better with 10-Time World Champion Dave Mirra lending his name (and motion captured body) to Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX on Dreamcast. Fortunately Z-Axis' game isn't just a rush job to cash in on the latest craze. This is an awesome title, which has been in development for well over a year now. If you love BMX riding stop reading and go buy it. If you're not too sure about this game, read on. This is gaming near its best.
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX isn't about racing opponents like so many racing game. Nor is it about best times. This is a game where pulling big air tricks and performing stunts will help you achieve the best results. In essence that is the entire point of the game, to perform tricks and rack up as many points as possible before the timer runs out. The game contains 12 different levels in total, of which only three are available from the beginning. As you complete the tasks set for each level you can unlock new bikes, new clothes, new levels and other secrets. These tasks range from performing basic jumps over obstacles to the almost impossible grinding (sliding) along an electricity wire for 60 meters.
Actually performing the tricks can be a challenge. While the easier tricks are performed with just the press of a button and the movement of the direction control more complex tricks require several button presses and the use of multiple directions on the controller. Fortunately, with practice all the tricks are possible and the game becomes a total joy to play. Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX includes an awesome range of tricks with over 1300 moves in total, many of which can be modified to your own tastes. Managing to land that first 360° flip, leap onto your first building or perform three back flips over consecutive jumps is so rewarding.
Graphically Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX is accomplished, but not totally polished. There is far too much draw-in for my liking and the frame rate can occasionally drop a little bit. The Dreamcast version, as you would expect, is much better then the dated Playstation version. The levels are generally well layed out and, unlike so many other games, there is a lot of variety in the stages. Some are set around warehouses, in indoor stadiums or in Dave's own backyard. The animation of the 10 riders is fairly good (Dave Mirra and 1999 Dirt Circuit Champion, Ryan Nyquist were motion captured for the game), although they could have done with a few more frames of animation in some tricks.
Special mention must be made of the soundtrack in this game. The music is supplied by bands including Sublime, Cypress Hill, Rancid, Social Distortion, Deftones, Pennywise, Dropkick Murphys, 59 Times the Pain, Primer 55 and Swingin' Utters. What a collection. While it's not my personal taste in music (I've only heard of 3 of those bands) the music definitely suits the grungy extremeness of the sport. Unfortunately, the sound effects are somewhat lacking with almost no SFX during the game except the occasion groan as you crash.
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX is a great game. Sure, the graphics aren't going to win any awards but the gameplay is top notch, and that's where a game earns it's stripes. Is it better then Tony Hawks Pro Skater? I wouldn't say that it is better, but it is definitely on the same level in terms of gameplay. It really then comes down to your preference for skateboards or BMX's. Better still, if you buy both games and you can't go wrong. Well done to both Z-Axis and Acclaim.