August 26, 2002
Freekstyle - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
2/8/2002EA Sports BIGPage 44 Studios1-2GHard
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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The game offers multiple paths.
Freekstyle is the latest game to be released under the EA Sports BIG brand, and rightfully so. Developed by Page 44 Studios this game takes the extreme sport of motorbike racing even further by adding wacky riders, music, stunts and tracks together in the one package. Freekstle has a very similar gameplay and interface style to the EA Sports BIG's wildly successful SSX and SSX Tricky on Playstation 2. Given the success of the snowboarding titles it isn't much of a surprise to see other sports using the same formula. But are the similarities a good or bad thing? Read the review to find out.

So what's in the game? To begin with you can choose from any of eight different riders with their own unique attitude and style including freestyle sensations Mike Metzger, leader of the Metal Mulissha, Brian Deegan, Stefy Bau, Clifford "The Flyin' Hawaiian" Adpptante, Jessica Patterson and Greg 'Albee' Albertyn. Each of these riders has their own unique personality, bikes and outfits as well as over 80 tricks to pull off or combine for bonus points and boost. These tricks include the McMetz, Saran wrap, superman seat grab, the roll, the helicopter and the 360 to name a few. While many of the races see you trying to cross the line first many others require you to pull off these tricks to score some massive points. In fact it's learning exactly when to end the trick, or risk crashing, that becomes the hardest part of this game.

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Performing the show stopper!
Freekstyle takes place across nine different venues which will challenge riders to take on some of the most outrageous freestyle terrain on tracks such as Rocket Garden, Crash Pad II, Monumental Motoplex and the ultimate big air course, Big Sky. One of the best things about this game is the track design. While rarely as exciting as those in SSX they are very long, perhaps too long, but have many hidden paths and shortcuts to be found which can offer vital seconds off the lap times. Freekstyle includes fairly standard game modes including Circuit, Race, Freestyle and Freeride each of which is pretty standard fare. Those of you up for a challenge should note that this game is pretty tough the first time through, especially when trying to rack up the points with tricks, but subsequent playings become less rewarding. Finally, Freekstyle is topped off with a 2-player split screen mode which, as always, often provides the most thrills, and longevity.

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The replays are tremendous.
Perhaps the greatest thing about this game is the tremendous sense of speed while racing. At times you really feel like you are on the edge of losing control of the bike. The tracks are littered with jumps, obstacles and slower mud patches which also ensures you pick your lines through the tracks. The bikes are very responsive and interact with the track and other riders quite well.

While the game looks enticing the biggest problems is that it doesn't feel original. If you've played SSX Tricky or it's prequel you'll know exactly what to expect. It's a race to the finish line, with the ability to perform tricks over jumps. There is a big feeling of been there, done that all before. Another annoyance is that when you turn the bike too sharply it tends to shudder before crashing. It's not very realistic at all and becomes quite annoying, if only for the poor bike movement.

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Racing near the launch pad.
Graphics are yet another area in Freekstyle where the results are a somewhat of a mixed bag. Generally the game moves fast, the animations are solid enough and the levels quite large. However, it's the sense of speed that really impresses in Freekstyle as the game will have you on the edge of your seat as you try to keep control of the bikes. By far one of the coolest parts of this game is the great speed blur effect when you hit the turbo on the bike. On the down side the brown dirt of the tracks, and dull colours in the backgrounds, tend to look tiresome after a short while. Strangely the entire game doesn't look anywhere near as clean or crisp as EA BIG's snowboarding titles.

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Trackside detail is stunning.
Sound-wise, as you could almost predict from the sport being covered, the developers have opted for a more grungy type sound. The problem is that none of the music is very inspirational, nor is it very exciting. I very much preferred the great remixes done on SSX Tricky with Run-DMC's "It's Tricky". On a brighter note the sound effects in Freekstyle are impressive, not only in the engine noises, but also the cries and groans from the riders as they are racing, or come off the bike.

While this game could have been great the simple fact is that it just doesn't quite cut it. The EA Sports BIG brand seems to be running out of steam although the upcoming SHOX does look very impressive, in both graphics and features. Still if you are a big motorbike fan, or have played SSX and SSX Tricky to death then this game will keep you going for a while longer. Good, but not brilliant.

GRAPHICSVery little slowdown, but the graphics aren't as nice as SSX Tricky.
SOUNDThe bikes sound cool and the music is adequate, but never brilliant.
GAMEPLAYPlenty of fun, especially in multi-player, but too similar to SSX?
VALUEIt's tough to beat the first time, but unlikely to keep you coming back.
OVERALLFreekstyle is a fun game which is heavily modelled on the SSX games. Why shouldn't it be following their success. Well the answer is that this game feels like SSX on wheels. The graphics and sound are also a little worse as well. Freekstyle should still impress motorbike fans.

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